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Piers Beagley (Sydney, Australia)

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The Complete Louisiana Hayride Archives 1954-1956 [CD+100 Page Book]
The Complete Louisiana Hayride Archives 1954-1956 [CD+100 Page Book]

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rocket-powered ride as Elvis becomes the world's #1 Rock'n'Roll superstar, 10 April 2012
Elvis Presley: Well, I'd like to say how happy we are to be out here. It's a real honor for us to get a chance to appear on the Louisiana Hayride show and we're gonna do a song for you. You got anything else to say, sir?

Frank Page: No, I'm ready.

Elvis: We're gonna do a song for you we've got out on Sun Records and it goes something like this....

With that and the first strum of Elvis' guitar the fuse was lit for his rocket-powered ride to become the world's number one Rock'n'Roll superstar!

If you are a fan of ELVIS and need to understand what all the beginning-of-rock'n'roll fuss is about then this is a great value CD/Book for anyone.

In the past Elvis' few recorded Hayride performances have been spread among a pile of releases of varying quality and substance. Somewhat surprisingly Elvis' very first almighty Hayride performance from October 16th 1954 being the most common (luckily because it was captured on tape in good quality).
Other songs however like the fabulously rare `Hearts of Stone' and `I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine' or an early `Money Honey' (captured live one year before Elvis recorded it for RCA!) were basically unlistenable due to the terrible quality of the surviving acetate recordings.

The final key to a historical overview of Elvis' Hayride performances was the discovery and auction of Elvis' final Hayride performance from December 16th 1956.

Making use of the Public Domain laws MRS have compiled a sensational 76 minute CD featuring all of Elvis' available Hayride performances. What's more by using some astounding audio technology the previously un-listenable performances now sound ok, albeit NOT in hifi-quality. This really demonstrates what twenty years of technological advancement and an amazing audio engineer can do.
The book is 96 pages with a CD stylishly inset in the back cover. The design is nicely laid-out with plenty of full-page Elvis photos, along with some illuminating text.
What a change you can see from the hesitant young Elvis on the first page back in 1954 to the superstar in leather gloves leaving the Hayride on December 16 just two years later - as shown on the book's final page!

The informative text captures the excitement and adventure of these two years with the Louisiana Hayride, without whose help and exposure Elvis may not have achieved the rocket-launch to fame that his talent deserved. It is good to be reminded of some salient facts, for instance the fact of the huge gap between Elvis' last regular Hayride gig on March 31st 1956 (no audio survives) and his final hurrah on December 16th 1956.

A lot of the key photos I have seen spread out through the earlier MRS deluxe books but having the specific Hayride photos collected together - plus all the new 1956 images not in previous MRS books - is very impressive.
There are plenty of images here that seem new to me and putting the action shots to match the featured Hayride recordings really do help explain the Elvis phenomenon

A packed CD of twenty-nine tracks takes us from Elvis' first Hayride performance on October 16 1954, through to his last on December 16th 1956 and all sounding better than on previous releases.
The real treat for me is hearing Elvis' songs within the Hayride setting starting with the fabulously tacky Hayride intro jingle, setting the scene before Elvis walks on stage.

The August 20th 1955 performances are some of the best and in great audio quality too. By now the band has total confidence and everyone is having a ball even if live on the radio - "I'm sick, sober and sorry" jokes Elvis. `Baby Let's Play House' is fabulous with lots of hiccupping and laughter plus a great audio balance with Scotty's Moore's guitar and Bill Black's bass rockin' out!

Elvis finally ends the year with an all-mighty `Hound Dog' as his faithful fans scream their lungs out in love and appreciation. How amazing to compare this explosive fan adoration to track one of this CD when Elvis first walked out onto the Hayride stage.

The final `Elvis has left the building' track is a lovely addition including "I told you absolutely straight up to this point that that he has left the building" - what a fabulous finish! Similarly the final Hayride jingle reminds you that the Hayride was still a family "country" affair and not a platform for launching rock'n'roll careers.

Overall Verdict: At last we get all of these all-important live Louisiana Hayride performances on one great CD. While this could have been done by any label, we are lucky that MRS have done such terrific work combining the stunningly upgraded acetates along with Hayride jingles plus producing a fabulous and informative 96-page book to go with it packed with great Elvis photos. This really is another high-quality and value-for-money product from MRS - Highly Recommended for Rock'n'Roll fans.

See the full review plus images and text extracts at the Elvis Information Network website

Such A Night In Pearl Harbor [CD + 100 Page Book]
Such A Night In Pearl Harbor [CD + 100 Page Book]
Price: £19.39

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Value For Money, 10 April 2012
It is no doubt one of the greatest Presley concert recordings in existence. MRS has used the same engineer who worked on their recent `Hayride' release and now this remastered concert shows a marvellous jump in audio-quality. Of course the recording was pretty basic in the first place - but now the audio sounds much, much richer plus all those old extremely annoying level fluctuations and tape dropouts have been fixed.

For me it is the powerhouse blues 'Reconsider Baby' (one of Elvis' favourites) that is the standout with an astounding Boots Randolph blowing up a storm. Elvis shouts, "One more time, one more time, one more time" as the crowd shriek in appreciation.

`One Night' is similarly a stunner. Interestingly Elvis includes some lines from `One Night Of Sin' .. "Don't call my name, it makes me feel so ashamed" .. "The things we planned, would make the earth stand still"!
`Such A Night' is one of my all-time favourite songs and while this is no doubt the best live version, Elvis still messes up the timing and middle-break although all is forgiven by the rocking ending.
Let's face it the whole concert is brilliant. Elvis for a change sings a very sincere 'Love Me' (Elvis' best ever live performance including a lovely Scotty Moore guitar solo) and a stunningly fresh 'That's All Right' (he had pretty well dropped this from his set list since 1956) while 'Swing Down, Sweet Chariot' highlights his recent 'His Hand In Mine' gospel album.

The CD is accompanied by a stylish 100-page hardback book that contains many rare photographs. The concert itself is featured across thirty pages and includes 22 photos as well as some press cuttings.
All the shots of Elvis on stage in his gold lame jacket are great to look at while listening to the CD.
What a shame that no one took any coloured shots that night - so I have no issues with the book cover photos being colourised

Overall Verdict: This is another fabulous value-for-money release from MRS. A classic Elvis concert beautifully remastered for 2012 and packed with quality photos and memorabilia. If RCA had recorded this concert properly back in 1961 it would have been a massive, must-buy, live album release - the concert is that good. Every Elvis fan needs to know about this great moment in Elvis' legacy. If you don't previously own this recording then this is an essential purchase. However even if you do, this brilliant package and re-mastered CD with a far better sound for less than $15 from Amazon UK won't disappoint anyone.

See my full review with book extracts and photos at the Elvis Information Network website
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