There’s an eye-popping photo in this essential 3-CD set taken on July 31, 1955, at a Tampa, Florida. gig. Elvis clutches his customized Martin acoustic, hollering to heaven and the cheap seats, right hand a strumming blur, face and throat glistening, pants soaked in sweat, as Scotty Moore leans into the shot with his Gibson peghead. It’s a high-resolution alternate angle on the cover shot from Presley’s debut LP, one of rock’s most iconic images, packaged with a 120-page detailing – via images and a day-by-day timeline, of Presley’s birth as recording artist and mega-star. Why buy music when you can stream it? This is why.
The set includes the Memphis Recording Service acetates Presley had cut on his own dime ($ 3.98 a pair, to be exact); the entire legendary Sun Sessions, aborted takes and all; and every known concert and radio recording from the period. The sound quality is likely as good as it’ll ever get, and the performances are musical bedrock. Five versions of “Blue Moon,” with slight variations on its clip-clop falsetto-moan conjuring? More’d be fine. Ditto the Louisiana Hayride live recordings here, which show a 19- and then 20-year-old galloping headlong into fame’s stratosphere.
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