- Audio CD (May 8 1998)
- Number of Discs: 4
- Label: RCA
- ASIN: B00000637U
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #83,171 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
|1. An Early Live Performance: Heartbreak Hotel|
|2. An Early Live Performance: Long Tall Sally|
|3. An Early Live Performance: Blue Suede Shoes|
|4. An Early Live Performance: Money Honey|
|5. An Elvis Monolog: Monolog|
See all 22 tracks on this disc
|1. Collectors' Gold From The Movie Years: They Remind Me Too Much Of You|
|2. Collectors' Gold From The Movie Years: Tonight's All Right For Love|
|3. Collectors' Gold From The Movie Years: Follow That Dream|
|4. Collectors' Gold From The Movie Years: Wild In The Country|
|5. Collectors' Gold From The Movie Years: Datin'|
See all 19 tracks on this disc
|1. The Las Vegas Years: Polk Salad Annie|
|2. The Las Vegas Years: You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'|
|3. The Las Vegas Years: Sweet Caroline|
|4. The Las Vegas Years: Kentucky Rain|
|5. The Las Vegas Years: Are You Lonesome Tonight? (Laughing)|
See all 23 tracks on this disc
|1. Also Sprach Zarathustra (Theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey)|
|2. The Concert Years-Part 1: See See Rider|
|3. The Concert Years-Part 1: Medley: I Got Woman/Amen|
|4. The Concert Years-Part 1: Love Me|
|5. The Concert Years-Part 1: If You Love Me (Let Me Know)|
See all 24 tracks on this disc
The set opens with its strongest side, the live performances from the Venus Room of the New Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas in the spring of 1956, and the March 25th, 1961, benefit performance from the Bloch Arena in Honolulu. For all of the seeming indifference of the crowd at the Vegas appearance, those are first-rate live rock & roll performances and are also as good a cross-section of his work as you could get, pared down to four tracks: "Heartbreak Hotel," "Long Tall Sally," "Blue Suede Shoes," and "Money Honey.Read more ›
This was the first Elvis box set of primarily unreleased recordings of the time and always raised a solid topic of conversation amongst fans. For it was this major project that prompted RCA UK to release a single consisting of the songs "It's Only Love" and the never before heard "Beyond The Reef" from the 'Lost Singles' and 'Elvis At The Piano' segments, respectively, to promote the release of this 8-LP wonder.
Surprisingly enough, "It's Only Love" faired much better than it's original release in 1971, as the song climbed it's way up to the No.3 spot in the UK charts, giving Elvis his best chart position since his untimely death and to this very day it remains as his best chart placing since then.
Anyway, this box set has always remained one of my favourite RCA Presley Projects even just for the historical value of a good portion of it. Disc One is a real rare and treasured part of the set which features the closing show of Elvis' very first Las Vegas stint in May 1956-Great Performance, Lousy Audience, and we are treated to the young Elvis at his unusually sarcastic best! Following on from this is what is known as An Elvis Monolog circa 1962 on a movie set. Now this is very interesting and gives you a taste of just what was on the mind of the 27 year old Presley at the time. So to round this disc off we have one of the best early Elvis live performances ever released, albeit with a bad sound recording, but just listen to that crowd-magical! This is Elvis fresh from his demob from the US Army and right at the very start of a new era of music being fully supported by legends in their own right-The Jordanaires, Scotty Moore, D.J. Fontana, Hank Garland, Boots Randolph, Bob Moore and Floyd Cramer. The setting for this show was Honolulu and the cause was a good one as it was a benefit performance in aid of the Pearl Harbour victims. It's great to hear live versions of 'All Shook Up', ''Reconsider Baby', 'One Night', 'It's Now Or Never' and a rarity in the form of 'Swing Down Sweet Chariot', from this particular time.
Disc Two-and I'm not a great fan of the movie recordings era, but we do have some interesting gems on this one. It's great to hear Elvis himself playing rhythm guitar on the alternate takes of 'Shoppin' Around' from "G.I. Blues". But amidst all the banter and laughter that is taking place on 'Datin'' and 'It's A Dog's Life' from the soundtrack of "Paradise Hawaiian Style", you can only feel frustration and embarrassment for the World's ultimate Rock icon who has slumped to these musical depths. Following on from this we have a debatable representation of the TV Specials segments. Why couldn't RCA release a few of the unreleased performances of these specials on this disc? I would have included 'Steamroller Blues' as opposed to 'Welcome To My World' on this set.
The third disc in this CD package opens with 10 previously unreleased gems from 'The Las Vegas Years' live and in rehearsal. The pick of the bunch for me is the 'Little Sister'/'Get Back' medley live from the International Hotel in August 1970(obviously a "That's The Way It Is" out-take)which features Elvis sat on a stool centre stage playing rhythmn guitar. A nice drawn out version of 'An American Trilogy' performed in it's early stages at the newly-named Hilton Hotel is a welcome treat on this disc, but the steal of the whole show is the rousing LAUGHING version of 'Are You Lonesome Tonight?' from August 1969, inwhich Elvis totally loses it not only with singing but playing his guitar aswell.
Next up on this disc is 'Lost Singles' and another welcome addition at the time and is certainly one of my favourite segments listening to Elvis perform some rarities. The conclusion of this disc comes in the form of 'Elvis At The Piano' which is great to hear but is truly for collectors and the stand-out is the haunting 'Beyond The Reef' which is an ensemble duet between Elvis, Charlie Hodge and Red West and not the Jordanaires as we are led to believe in the liner notes of the accompanying booklet of this box set. And, speaking of which, I find one or two of the so-called facts and figures to be a little incorrect.
This leads me to the final disc of the 25th anniversary silver box set and that is 'The Concert Years'. There has been a lot of speculation over the passed 20 years or so as to whether this was a complete show and the booklet of the CD package certainly makes out as though it is an actual live concert from Dallas in June, 1975?! But according to the updated version of an Elvis 'bible' entitled 'The Complete Recording Sessions', apparently this is segments of Elvis on tour in May and June of 1975, but the bulk of which was recorded in Dallas on May 6. The disc certainly gives you an insight of what an Elvis show at this time did consist of with this compilation of performances. There are many highlights featured including some great rocking versions of 'Burning Love' and the 'Mystery Train'/'Tiger Man' medley. It's wonderful to hear Elvis perform yet another inspirational 'How Great Thou Art' with a repeat ending aswell! The rare gems represented in this live segment are 'The Wonder Of You' and 'T-R-O-U-B-L-E' from the 'Today' album.
So there we have it...it won't be everybody's cuppa, but nevertheless still stands as a great testament to a great performer who not only excelled in a recording studio but surpassed all expectations when he did his thing on stage before a live audience. In retrospect I don't think the silver box set is as strong in content as the acclaimed 'Golden Celebration', 'Platinum' or 'That's The Way It Is' boxes, but from a collector's point of view, it's a collectible must!
Let us start by defending this set. For twenty years, it has been unfairly maligned by such "authorities" as Rolling Stain magazine (Anybody ever read the original review? Ruthless!) This collection is not bad. We get such milestone events as Elvis' disasterous first Vegas appearance from 1956 and the USS Arizona Memorial Benefit show from 1961 (his last public performance until 1969). From a strictly historical point of view, these recordings are essential for almost any Elvis maniac.
Other high points include highlights from Elvis' 1969-72 Vegas appearances (including the most hysterical version of "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" ever committed to tape) and a "complete" 1975 Elvis show from Dallas, TX, which demonstrates that he could still conjure up some onstage energy late in his career.
This collection is also the only place to find the 1977 single version "Unchained Melody", a vastly superior version than the one which opens the _Moody Blue_ album.
This set is far from perfect, however. The USS Arizona Benefit recording suffers from at times dismal sound quality while the "Movie Years" portion of the set is entirely dispensable apart from Elvis' studio cutups. The "TV Specials" section is confusingly assembled. For example, we get "Welcome to My World" (1973) followed by a powerful 1977 performance of "Trying to Get to You" after which we go back to 1973 with "I'll Remember You." This section would have been much more effective if it had been presented in chronological order.
Finally, many of the "lost singles" on Disc 3 are no longer lost and can be found on better compiled, less pricey collections than this.
In the end, this is not the disaster that many music critics have declared it. Nor is it the masterpiece that others have hailed it. It is simply another middle-tier Elvis compilation.