This five-disc set was the first release in BMG's effort to present Elvis's recorded legacy in a manner befitting the most important musical artist of his time. The strategy was simple–showcase, in chronological order, remastered versions of the King's 1950s output, from his sessions with Sam Phillips at Sun Studios (where they arguably invented the very notion of rock & roll) through his 1958 Army induction. Not everything Elvis recorded in the '50s was great (just as not everything he recorded in Hollywood was rotten), but there are dozens of tracks here that, quite simply, can make a bad day seem all that much better. Which surely still makes him the king of something. Suffice it to say this is one box set that lives up to its title.
This 60th Anniversary 60-CD Deluxe Edition celebrates RCA Victor's signing of Elvis Presley-The King of rock 'n' roll. Features all of the albums Elvis recorded and RCA released in his lifetime: studio, soundtrack, and live. It also includes compilations released that featured unreleased songs or songs new to the LP format.
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.