25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Sunrise (Audio CD)
The Sun sessions are the birth of Rock N' Roll; the 1st recordings in the genre and arguably still the greatest. There has been cries of Rock Around The Clock (released the summer Elvis 1st entered the studio) and Rocket 88, those 2 recordings were the first Rock N' Roll singles but all the groundwork, passion, excitement was started by Elvis Presley; he laid the groundwork. Bill Haley has about as much in common with what Elvis was doing musically as Ringo does with Dylan. If it wasn't for Presley, rock would have been just a passing fad like The Twist and Skiffle.
Elvis' voice is roar and uncontrollable: in one second baritone the next a high shriek, this is best displayed on Milk Cow Blues. Elvis was the 1st singer we didn't quite understand and it didn't matter.
The basis of the Sun sessions is complete musical freedom; Elvis had a great memory for obscure songs. Also growing up in black communities meant he bypassed the music racial divide. What Elvis does is combine Rhythm and Blues, Gospel, Country and performs it in a completely different way. Country songs would become blues songs, blues songs rockers, the lines would be blurred.
A huge mention should go out to Scotty Moore (guitar), Bill Black (bass) and Sam Phillips (producer). Elvis, Scotty and Bill communicate in complete musical harmony. During Lets Play House the music halts and Elvis snears....
''Come on back and meet a-little girl so we can play some house''
Bill bass crawls along those lines eventually bringing Scotty back in.
Scotty Moore's guitar playing is vital; the music accompaniment to Elvis' voice. He crossed RaB and country to change guitar. As a guitarist he was extremely vocal; his solo in Blue Moon Of Kentucky and That's All right are prime examples; you can sing them all.
Sam Phillips deserves a big mention, indulging Elvis' massive musical variety because of his huge wish to find a white singer that singed black. His production is raw and unbeatable; way better then the polish on the subsequent RCA material (jailhouse rock).
All 4 guys perform with a naivety, excitement and edginess which is hard to appreciate in hindsight.
Due to 3 huge controversial changes in his carear, every fan has there viewpoint: Those who held the faith during the 60s and 70s, or, the 50's purists. I lean more to the 50's purists but like some of the latter stuff (Guitar Man, Suspicious Minds) but within that category there are those that dismiss everything Elvis made after Sun. I find that ridicules because by saying that you're denying such tracks as Heartbreak Hotel, Hound Dog, King Creole. True more polished and different from the Sun stuff but the obvious extension really; Sun created rock, RCA introduced it on the world.
The variety here makes great proof that early on Elvis wanted to be a all round entertainer. As well as been a fan of old black geezers he also liked Dean Martin (which explains 'its now of never'). The material ranges from beautiful ballads such as 'Blue Moon' (with singing in falsetto), country songs such as 'I Forgot to Remember to Forget'. Gospel tinged 'Trying to get to you' is one of the big stand out tracks, Elvis would himself revive this song for his 68 Comeback Special.
It is the rockers that are best remembered though. Mystery Train's lyrics are so simple yet so perfect; Good Rockin is my favourite Elvis track bar none, the attitude and sexual tension in lyrics like...
''Meet me in a hurry behind the bar, don't you be afraid and I'll do you know harm, I want you to bring along my rockin shoes cos tonight where gonna rock away all my blues''
Milk Cow Blues see's Elvis at his most aggressive and Baby Lets Play House with its ''Babybabybbbbaby'' intro is simply incredible.
Of the 5 singles released they hit on a great formula of pairing a rocker with a country song (Good Rockin' Tonight and I Don't Care If the Sun Don't Shine). The material has been repackaged many times, most notably on For LP Fans Only which was the only place to obtain them for many years, but also 1987's The Complete Sun Sessions. Sunrise sees the addition of a 2nd disc which unfortunately bumps the price up. It contains the alternative versions and unreleased live tracks. The live tracks are extremely bad quality and are of only partial interest. The alternative versions are good but it's the 1st disc you will play time and time again. The packaging is classy, I personally didn't feel short changed.