This is the definitive collection: all 711 master recordings as released during Elvis’ lifetime, mastered from the original analog master tapes where available. Each recording has been carefully restored to achieve the best sound reproduction ever without compromising the audio quality of the original master. The collection also contains 103 additional rare recordings and a 240-page hardbound book featuring an annotated discography, original album artwork, rare and classic photos, a complete song index and an essay by Peter Guralnick. Housed in a beautiful, limited edition display case, THE COMPLETE ELVIS PRESLEY MASTERS is an indispensable piece of music history and the one collection no true connoisseur should be without.
Critics compared the 2002 four-disc Today, Tomorrow & Forever to the Beatles Anthology series of evolving outtakes. That formula is repeated with less success this time around. Little here is preferable to the original Elvis-approved releases, bearing in mind that this was someone who recorded dozens of takes live in the studio until he got it right. Interestingly, the movie and Nashville discs actually trump the '50s disc of unreleased stereo masters from '57. "G.I. Blues," (a better version), "Flaming Star," stuff from Wild In the Country, and even selections from Blue Hawaii sound darn good all these years later, including a version of "Can't Help Falling in Love" that bridges the hit and film renditions. The Nashville disc starts with Elvis Is Back! outtakes, all at least listenable; "Soldier Boy" may be better than the official release. The gospel "Working on the Building" is a killer. "U.S. Male" pales mightily next to the single. And so on. Rounded out with a pretty standard 1972 live show, this provides some interesting tidbits for Elvis fanatics.
The recorded legacy of Elvis Presley continues to be discovered by new generations that never saw him or heard him perform live. It's hard to appreciate that he started so much of what we take for granted now in popular music. Until 1956, the teenagers of suburban America, and the rest of the world, had to endure ditties by Rosemary Clooney and Perry Como but everything was about to be tossed upside down. On January 28 on a cold night in New York, Elvis took America by storm as he appeared on CBS-TV's Stage Show hosted by Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey. On February 4 for his second appearance he sang a song that literally changed the world of popular music "Heartbreak Hotel". Its unique sound and style literally blew everything before it away while at the same time inducing the blueprint for everything that was to come; by April, it would be #1 on Billboard.