2008 digitally remastered and expanded edition of Elvis' first Gospel album from 1960 featuring four bonus tracks: 'Peace In The Valley', 'It Is No Secret', 'I Believe' and 'Take My Hand'. Elvis grew up listening to Gospel music and, over the years, he evolved from a faithful interpreter to a cutting edge pioneer of the genre. As with his secular music, Elvis invented his own version of Gospel, drawing from every element of his vast musical knowledge without any musical prejudice or racial barriers. Legacy.
Elvis was a walkin', talkin', singin' combination of indigenous American music and styles, but probably the first music he heard as a child was gospel--in Southern Baptist churches, on Memphis radio (where white Southern gospel quartets flourished during the '40s and '50s), and from black churches. Presley released an EP of gospel music in the '50s, around the same time he performed "Peace in the Valley" on one of his Ed Sullivan appearances. This 1960 release, however, represents his first full-length foray into gospel, and while it's a bit more produced than the EP, it still features beautiful singing. Staples such as "Joshua Fit the Battle" and "Swing Down Sweet Chariot" sound like they came directly from a Memphis service. Of course, for Presley, gospel included everything from the title track by Stuart Hambler (who ran against Eisenhower on the Prohibition ticket) to Rodgers & Hammerstein. After all, hybridization was his magic. --Bill Holdship