Consider this collection Elvis Presley's personal
play list -
R&B and blues classics that became an essential part of Elvis's
lifelong repertoire because he connected so powerfully with them as
a listener, not just as a performer. Some of these songs, like
Mississippi native Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's original version of "That's
All Right," or blues shouter Wynonie Harris's chart-topping
rendition of Roy Brown's "Good Rockin' Tonfight," were R&B hits that
Elvis had discovered listening to the radio as a boy. He not only
memorized these numbers, he internalized them – the lyrics, chords
and very attitude got all shook up with his own unique musical DNA.
When Elvis suddenly got the chance in 1954 to record these tunes
himself, called to Sun Studio in Memphis by curious producer Sam
Phillips, they re-emerged with Elvis's own spirit attached. His
performances were fueled by youthful bravado, sexual energy and the
release of all that pent-up desire to get in front of a microphone.
Elvis honored his influences but would not be held back by tradition
or propriety. He boldly snubbed the strictures of race and mixed the
R&B sounds he loved with hillbilly music, blues and gospel. Elvis
was making up rock and roll as he went along.
The tracks here, often written or originally recorded by pioneering
African-American performers, have been culled from throughout
Elvis's career, from his earliest Sun sessions up to his final album
Moody Blue, cut in part at Graceland. This lineup covers a lot of
ground, geographically as well as musically: the New Orleans style
of R&B great Lloyd Price ("Lawdy, Miss Clawdy"), the Chicagobased
blues of guitarist Jimmy Reed ("Big Boss Man"), the Memphis-bred
balladry of pianist-vocalist Johnny Ace ("Pledging My Love", the
sophisticated R&B-meets-pop of New York City songwriting duo Jerry
Leiber and Mike Stoller ("Trouble"). This was repertoire that Elvis,
the fan and the artist, often returned to, on record and on stage;
"Trouble," for example, became the big opening statement of the
Elvis '68 Comeback Special.
Talking with British writer Barney Hoskyns, songwriter Jerry Leiber
once recalled how passionate Elvis performee in the studio when he
tackled his and Mike Stoller's R&B-based material: "With Elvis, no
direction was needed... once the rhythm section started to cook, he
would just start singing. And the man never made a bad take... he
was like an Olympic champion. He could sing all day."
Elvis himself, back in early, less guarded days, had famously
confessed, "It's like your whole Body gets goose bumps. It's like a
surge of electricity going through you. It's almost like making love
but it's even stronger than that. Sometimes I think my heart is
going to explode."
Prepare for goose bumps. These songs may be hazardous to your heart,
but they're liberating for your libido and absolutely satisfying for
your soul. (from the liner notes)