Aug. 16 marks the 10th year of the passing of Elvis Presley. To honor the ``King of Rock 'n' Roll,'' RCA has come out with a handsome record package - the ``Elvis Presley Commemorative Issue,'' covering most of Presley's musical career.
The set consists of four albums: ``The Memphis Record,'' ``The Top Ten Hits,'' ``The Number One Hits,'' and ``The Complete Sun Sessions.'' Two are double albums, and all are available on vinyl, compact disc, and cassette.
Presley's recording output was huge - over 60 albums, including a limited edition, eight-record album, ``Elvis Aron Presley,'' which was released on the 25th anniversary of his signing with RCA.
So why another overview? Surely RCA felt that something had to be done on the 10th anniversary of Presley's passing, and the set does have some interesting features.
The recordings are all digitally remastered, and the sound is excellent. ``The Complete Sun Sessions'' includes some previously unreleased versions of ``I Love You Because'' and ``I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone.'' This two-record set includes Presley's first major recording date for Sun Records in 1954 and '55, and his comeback dates in 1969.
The ``Top Ten'' and ``Number One'' hit albums naturally include some duplications, but are intelligently packaged, listing the date of recording, the chart debut, and the peak chart position of each song. Both the ``Sun Sessions'' and ``The Memphis Record'' have extensive liner notes. Overall, the ``Elvis Presley Commemorative Issue'' is a valuable addition for collectors and a good place to start, if you've never really explored Presley's music.
PRESLEY TRIVIA Did you know that:
``Good Rockin' Tonight'' writer Roy Brown remembers Elvis being the only white boy at his appearances in Memphis in 1953 and 1954. He says that when he was in trouble with the Internal Revenue Service in 1960, he asked Elvis for help. Elvis wrote him a check on a paper bag - which a Memphis bank cashed.
Elvis's 1960 hit, ``It's Now Or Never,'' is based on the Italian song ``O sole mio.'' Likewise, ``Surrender'' is based on ``Come Back to Sorrento.'' From the start, Elvis said he wanted to be a singer ``like Dean Martin.''
Elvis has always dipped into old rhythm and blues. ``Crying in the Chapel'' was a Sonny Til & The Orioles tune in 1953; ``Stranger in My Own Home Town'' was a late '40s rhythm and blues hit for Percy Mayfield; and ``Any Day Now'' was a big 1962 hit for soul man Chuck Jackson.