on 11 November 2008
This is fabulous. Does exactly what it says on the cover. When you hear this it comes back to you what all the fuss was about.
I've got all the main albums in the BMG CD catalogue, remasters included, and I've wondered if it's only me who finds the sound of the 50's material lacking something. But this is a revelation. The sound might not be perfect in technical terms, but it just sounds real in a way you can't quite put your finger on. (The cover blurb talks about minimal sound processing and says hiss and distortion has been cleaned up only where it's intrusive, but frankly I didn't notice that much hiss or distortion, and the sound is mostly very clear.)
Plus the choice of tracks is good. It's the original studio recordings and you get the best of the Sun era and then good choices from Elvis' first year at RCA, including the beautiful `When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again' which always seems to get omitted from compilations just because it always has. For anyone who's new to Elvis and is thrown by the sheer size of the catalogue, you're better off starting here than with `Don't Cry Daddy'.
Negatives: one, you don't get a lot of information, only the recording and release dates of each track plus the blurb about sound quality; two, it's not clear whether there's going to be more than just the current volumes 1 and 2, which only take us up to the end of 1957. 1958/59 were brilliant years, but there's no mention anywhere about a Volume 3. Lastly, the artwork, even for my tastes, is retro to the point of staid. Still, you don't listen to the artwork, and this is the first time in a good few years that a CD's had me bopping around in front of the stereo.
Re Volume 2: leaving aside the artwork (with Elvis' picture on the front looking as though he's been knitted), it's just as good. As well as the singles from 1957 you get pretty much the complete soundtracks of Loving You and Jailhouse Rock plus digestible amounts of the gospel and Christmas stuff from that year. I could have done without That's When Your Heartaches Begin, but it's so good to hear Jailhouse Rock in all its ragged glory again.
on 13 March 2010
The three volumes in this series arrived today, and I've just finished listening to the first one through very fine electronics and Stax electrostatic "earspeakers." Man, these were great songs, and I'm old enough to remember when they shook the earth.
As with the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, the early CD versions of Elvis's catalogue were weak: sometimes just perfunctorily slopped onto disc, sometimes hyper-processed until the original sound was barely recognizable. But what's the ideal? Producing Elvis/Beatles/Stones is not like recording an orchestra, where the sound we hear in the concert hall is the goal to be recreated. Do we want to hear the music equalized for "record players" the way it was way back when, with attenuated bass and other limitations? Do we want the music engineered and mastered with modern high-fidelity systems in mind? If so, it won't sound the way it did then.
This is probably more of a question with the Stones and the Beatles, whose "early" work post-dates Elvis's by eight or so years and benefits from multi-track recording and better studio electronics all around.
Elvis's early material was rather primitive by comparison. Many of the cuts on this disc, especially the earlier ones, display obvious overload. (Hiss never bothered me, and getting rid of it invariably robs the music of "air.") Further, there is simply no way to "remaster" anything to bring about a different balance of voice or instruments. The sound is what it is, and it will always sound noticeably flawed next to most rock/pop music recorded only a few years later. Unfortunately, an audio recording can't be "restored" like, say, a movie from the 1930s, where restoration can actually make a large positive difference. (Restoration does change the original, but our ears are far more sensitive than our eyes. We don't notice that the colors in the restored "Wizard of Oz" are not exactly what they were in the theater, but we do notice slight differences in sound.)
Elvis's catalog was certainly improved with some costly 24-bit/96k discs from Japan, and improved further with DSD processing. The latest incarnations of the early albums are very good. (I doubt that SACD is in Elvis's future, at least not for his early stuff.)
So is volume 1 (1954-1956) indispensable? Should you purchase it and discard your DSD recordings? No, but it's good to have these alongside the others, and they're not expensive. I'm very glad to have these discs. Now to volumes 2 and 3. Let's try the B&W 801s for these!
on 16 April 2015
Dubious at first, but after listening to 'Mystery Train', Milk Cow Blues Boogie', 'Love Me' and the other tracks, I would advise; don't hesitate in buying this CD. I can see my 50' s Legacy albums quickly becoming redundant. As many Elvis fans have stated, the cover photo is poor but is more than made up for by the vibrant sound quality.
on 20 July 2010
This CD packs most songs from the first two years of Elvis Presley's career. There are no effects, except those produced by the performers. It definitely sounds "1950s" and will agreably startle those who, like me, had only heard the official re-tweaks of the RCA reissues. This CD ought to be in every rock record collection.
on 20 January 2011
Why do these recordings take me back to the 1950`s when i played singles on an auto change record player?To call this player rubbish would be to malign the contents of the average dustbin but,but...........
Playing these Inverse remastered CD`s took me back to when music not only meant something,it meant everything.It is not just that the remastering is brilliant but the tracks have had the magic reinstated.Wow!