Picks and Pans Review: Elvis 56
Nearly 19 years after his death, what is left to say about the King? 11 Plenty, baby. And this latest reissue—of tunes originally recorded in 1956, when "the devil's music" (aka rock and roll) was making teens twirl and parents hurl—will hardly be the last word. Elvis 56 finds Presley tearin' down the house on raucous classics like "Heartbreak Hotel" and "Hound Dog." The 22 tracks represent Elvis's first sides for RCA—including previously unreleased and alternate takes—and catch him at a prime time: not long after his debut for Sam Phillips's Sun Records and just as Hollywood was calling. Hits aside, there are also seldom heard curios here like the slinky bump-and-grinder "So Glad You're Mine" and the boogie-woogie-laden "One-Sided Love Affair."
Backed on many of the tunes by the extraordinarily smooth harmonies of the Jordanaires, the Presley of '56 was at his creative apex. With a slicker, more commercial sound already creeping in, he would never again sound this pure and unaffected. Otherworldly Presley sightings be damned! Elvis 56 gives us a living, palpitating, flesh-and-blood King splendidly holding court. (RCA)