Elvis: The King Of Rock 'N' Roll - The Complete 50's Masters

Elvis Presley

RCA, 1992


REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Elvis Presley may not have invented rock ‘n’ roll, but he solidified it as a musical style.

Elvis brought his pop/rock vocals to country music and moved the resulting sound over to rock ‘n’ roll. This sound combined with his charisma sold millions of records, made Elvis a household name and established rock as a commercial and cultural presence. Today, we tend to forget that Elvis was the dominant figure in steering rock ‘n’ roll from its country and rhythm & blues origins to the coming of the Beatles in 1963. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The RCA label has issued the Elvis catalogue in just about every way possible, but with Elvis The King Of Rock ‘N’ Roll: The Complete 50’s Masters they finally get it right. The music still matters, as this set proves in five CDs and 140 songs representing Elvis’ complete 1950 studio recordings. The included color booklet traces each recording session.

The Elvis generation of teenagers are now grandparents and the music is a half century old, but RCA has cleaned up the sound on the CD’s so that the music sounds fresh. This is not the plodding; bloated Elvis of the 70s represented by thousands of impersonators, or the Elvis of the 60s that tried to stay relevant with "Suspicious Minds," for example. This is the lean rock ‘n’ roll Elvis that the world fell in love with.

Disc 1 is the weakest of the five, as it concentrates on his Sun Label material. While historically important, of course, it shows Elvis’ musical style in a developmental mode. Songs such as “Mystery Train,” “Baby Let’s Play House,” “That’s All Right” and “I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone” come right out of the rockabilly strand of country music and show Elvis’ musical starting place.

Discs 2-4 are the meat of the set and really the meat of early rock ‘n’ roll itself. They contain Elvis’ RCA label studio recordings: “Hound Dog,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “All Shook Up,” “Jailhouse Rock,” his complete Elvis’ Christmas Album and on it goes, songs you know by heart or should. Disc 5 contains 14 unreleased performances that are just different versions of the original hits.

Five hours of music and a high price may be more than many people want to invest. If you want to explore the Elvis catalog in a more modest way, both of his first two albums have been released on CD. However, if you want to celebrate the historical roots of rock ‘n’ roll with the King, this is the place to be.

Rating: A

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© 2007 David Bowling and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of RCA, and is used for informational purposes only.