Elvis 75: Good Rockin' Tonight (Box Set)

Elvis Presley

RCA Legacy, 2009


REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Elvis Presley would have turned seventy-five on January 8th, 2010. In celebration of that event, the RCA label, through their Legacy Series, has issued a four-disc, hundred track box set.

Elvis 75: Good Rockin’ Tonight may not contain any huge surprises, nor has it unearthed any new material that had been hidden away, but what it does do, it does well. It gathers all of his number one hits, some other well-known material, live performances, and a few cuts that do not surface very often, and assembles them in chronological order to present a nice history of Presley’s music.

Everything has been digitally remastered, which has given it a crystal-clear sound. In addition, there is an 80-page booklet, which includes a 7000 word essay by Billy Altman, rare photos, and copious information about every track.

In the mid-‘50s, Elvis combined country rockabilly with black Southern rhythm & blues, which eventually coalesced into a distinctive rock ‘n’ roll sound. When you add in his personal charisma, you have an artist who emerged as a cultural phenomenon and changed the course of American music. From 1955-1977, he recorded over 700 tracks, solidifying his reputation as The King of Rock ‘N’ Roll. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Disc one covers his rise to fame in 1953-1957. The set begins with his 1953 recording of “My Happiness,” which was a present for his mother and well worth the $4.00 investment. His mid-‘60s Sun material quickly follows, with songs such as “That’s All Right,” “Baby Let’s Play House,” “Blue Moon Of Kentucky,” and “Mystery Train” that jumpstarted his career in the South and paved his way to being signed by the RCA label. By 1957, “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “All Shook Up,” “Hound Dog,” “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear,” “Too Much,” “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You,” and “Don’t” had all topped the singles charts in the United States and made him a star.

Disc two is the strongest from beginning to end, culling the best of his 1958-1962 material. Tracks such as “Stuck On You,” “It’s Now Or Never,” “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” and “Return To Sender” are interspersed with some lesser-known material including “Thrill Of Your Love,” “Doin’ The Best I Can,” “I Feel So Bad,” and “Pocketful Of Rainbows.”

Disc three (1963-1969) wisely avoids most of his soundtrack material and concentrates on the series of strong singles that he issued during this period of his career. “Guitar Man,” “U.S. Male,” “Don’t Cry Daddy,” and “Kentucky Rain” may not have reached the top of the charts, but they remain some of the best in his catalogue. “Viva Las Vegas,” “How Great Thou Art” and the perennial favorites “In The Ghetto” and “Suspicious Minds” serve to enhance this disc.

The fourth disc, 1970-1977, is the weakest as it presents material from the last part of his career, which is hit or miss. The live material just does not measure up, and while “Way Down,” “Burning Love,” and “Promised Land” may be listenable, overall this is the disc I will return to least often.

Elvis 75: Good Rockin’ Tonight may not be for everyone, but it is a fine addition to the Elvis Presley legacy. If you have avoided his box sets in the past or are a fan who must have everything, then this is a must purchase.

Rating: A-

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© 2009 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 Legacy, and is used for informational purposes only.