Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars That don't move me, let's get real gone for a change, 3 Jun 2011
This review is from: Sunrise (Audio CD)
Is there anyone out there who would dare to give this anything other than 5 stars? As another reviewer states, words like Holy Grail come to mind when considering this music.

It would be tempting to say that Presley produced his best work whilst at Sun and that he achieved very little of real note afterwards. Tempting but incorrect. Unlike Jerry Lee who generated a massive volume of (remarkably high quality) material during his Sun phase, Elvis was at Sun for a relatively short time and left only a tiny heritage in terms of recordings -all the significant performances are on the first of this pair of discs -although one has to add that, during this period he, and Scotty and Bill, made records that were both massively important in the history of popular music and were also extremely exciting. His move from Sun to RCA was relatively seamless initially; early RCA records did not differ drastically from those from Sun. To the listener the move was somewhat blurred anyway by the presence of five unreleased Sun tracks on the first Presley RCA album. Over time the nature of the records changed but it's entirely possible that would have happened if he'd stayed at Sun. It's also true that, even after years of rubbishy output later in his career, Elvis was still capable of producing good, and sometimes great, records, an example of which was the famous '68 "Comeback".

Within the first ten tracks on this album, we have six which virtually defined rockabilly, "That's all right", "Blue Moon of Kentucky", "Good Rockin' tonight", "Milkcow Blues", "Baby let's play house" and "Mystery Train". All the key elements are in place on "That's all right", that stunning first release. Listening to it again, one marvels at how relatively sedate it seems now. Not as fast as one remembers it, but with Elvis' high-pitched voice already whipping up the excitement. Peter Guralnick, describes the recording session superbly both in the Notes contained here and in his excellent book, "Last train to Memphis: The rise of Elvis Presley". The flipside of "That's all right", "Blue Moon of Kentucky" shows Elvis and the boys approaching rockabilly from the country rather than blues direction, taking a classic Bill Monroe number and giving it that slap bass and echo-laden makeover. On "Good Rockin' Tonight" he takes a very direct approach to Roy Brown's extremely mannered original - not much innuendo here, this is right to the point. For "Milkcow Blues" after the slow start he erupts with the immortal words "Hold it fellahs, that don`t move me, let`s get real, real gone for a change". By the time we reach "Baby Let's play House", the echo had got stronger, Scotty Moore's solo was more metallic, and Elvis was at boiling point. And what about "Mystery Train"? That's so good it's almost mystical - echoes of Muddy going down to Louisiana.

But there are other, non rockabilly standouts on Disc 1. "Blue Moon", with its minimal accompaniment and eerie, haunting vocal . It's the sort of record which could cause you to stop and listen even now when we've become accustomed to umpteen kinds of sonic onslaughts; in those days it must have seemed like it came from another planet! "Trying to get to you", a slow to medium ballad with Scotty unleashing long snaky lines echoing the Presley bluesy phrasing, and, then both exploding into bedlam in the middle eight. Not to forget "I forgot to remember to forget" which redefined the country ballad with a loping beat in the background and Elvis' voice swooping , dipping and pleading as no voice had ever done before. But there's still other delights, "I'll never let you go", which proceeds along in a restrained and rather pretty manner until 1 minute 50 seconds in when Presley utters a monster, ascending, "Well" which seems to last for an eternity before the backbeat and echo come on forcefully projecting the song through to its climax.

Disc 2 doesn't maintain this level. It starts with personal recordings that the young and nervous Presley made at the Sun studios. All are ballads accompanied only by his guitar but some of those magnetic vocal qualities are already there. It's intriguing listening to "That's when your heartaches begin" knowing well the polished version of a few years later. Following these tracks we get seven alternate takes complete with restarts and studio chat plus a couple of underdeveloped tracks, "Fool, Fool, Fool" and Big Joe Turner's "Shake, Rattle and Roll". These versions, the alternates in particular, don't support any theory of the boys merely stumbling on a sound. It may have started that way but they all obviously worked damned hard to produce those results we hear on Disc 1. The side finishes with six live tracks of very poor recording quality. I would question the inclusion of these tracks.

Most people are unlikely to play Disc 2 more than a handful of times and the live tracks only serve to show the kind of music which was influencing the young Presley. "Money Honey" though, was due to benefit hugely from the full Presley treatment after the RCA move.

Presley's entire Sun career consisted of five singles (none of which were issued in the UK) plus a few tracks which later surfaced on the first RCA album. His next single, and the first on RCA, was to be "Heartbreak Hotel" which went to number 1 in the US and number 2 in the UK.You may know some of the rest.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in


Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 8 Aug 2012 22:38:01 BDT
Last edited by the author on 8 Aug 2012 22:38:46 BDT
Al Sithey says:
A great, and very detailed review as always Dave, but wasn't Elvis's famous comeback in '68?

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Aug 2012 23:25:09 BDT
Thanks both for the nice words and for pointing out my slip. I suspect this is one of those rare occasions where I didn't check my facts & relied on a faulty memory instead. And also didn't proof it properly which I'm conscious I didn't do too well on some early reviews. Now corrected.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Aug 2012 23:54:38 BDT
Al Sithey says:
Hello Dave,
I felt very reluctant to point out such a minor slip to a reviewer of your much-deserved standing, but I guessed that you do like to 'dot' the I's and 'cross' the T's whenever possible in your always-excellent reviews. I'm glad you took my post in the spirit that was intended.
‹ Previous 1 Next ›

Review Details


5.0 out of 5 stars (11 customer reviews)
5 star:
4 star:    (0)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
Add to basket Add to wishlist

Location: Berkhamsted, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 287