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Presley's Early Blues Roots Represented in Box Set

Elvis 75

Good Rockin’ Tonight” was one of the early Sun recordings The King of Rock’n Roll Elvis Presley did when he became the first “crossover” hit maker in 1955. It is also the title of the latest and most exhaustive repackaging of his work. In commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Elvis’ birth – to be celebrated on January 8, 2010 – comes the first four-CD deluxe box set collection ever to provide the definitive overview of his entire recording career.

Elvis 75: Good Rockin’ Tonight, produced by long-time Elvis chronicler and biographer Ernst Mikael Jørgensen, will be available at all physical and digital retail outlets starting December 8, 2009, through RCA/Legacy, a division of Sony Music Entertainment. It presents one hundred songs, a broad collection of hit singles, deep album tracks, live performances, and rarities.

The tracks appear in strict chronological order of recording dates over the course of Disc 1 (1953-1957), Disc 2 (1958-1962), Disc 3 (1963-1969), and Disc 4 (1970-1977). They range from the first demo acetate that Elvis made at the Memphis Recording Service of Sun Records as a gift for his mother in 1953 (“My Happiness”), to a sampling of Sun Records sides produced by Sam Phillips in 1954-55 (“That’s All Right,” “Blue Moon Of Kentucky,” “Good Rockin’ Tonight,” and more), through 21 and a half years of RCA tracks, from 1956 to 1977.

Presley’s unbelievably iconic presence sometimes overshadows the significant role he played in not just presenting American roots music to the masses but evolving it into rock and roll. The preface to the box set written by Ernst Mikael Jørgensen and Roger Semon acknowledges that role: “To be sure, the chart hits are of crucial importance; but only when heard in the context of some of the lesser-known artistic achievements can they present a complete picture of an artist with repertoire so vast that he released seven hundred and eleven master recordings during his lifetime… These tracks span Elvis’ entire career, from his first personal demo in 1953 through his last hit in 1977, and even beyond that, to a 2002 worldwide smash hit remix. This is as definitive a summation of Elvis’ career as has ever been attempted on four discs.”

Even RCA/Legacy acknowledges Presley’s often overlooked role in keeping the Blues alive. From their press announcement: “More than six decades have elapsed since the post-war stirrings that oozed from the primordial swamp of American southern hillbilly boogie, country and western, race music, and rhythm and blues – a gumbo stew that grabbed musicians and singers by the scruff of the neck, and led them kicking and screaming through the birth of rock and roll. There are Great Man Theories and Big Bang Theories that perennially try to pinpoint the fountainhead from which it all sprang loose. Yet it always come back to Memphis, and always come back to one man: The King Of Rock And Roll.” Cuts include Arthur Crudup’s “That’s All Right,” “Good Rockin’ Tonight,” “Mystery Train,” “Hound Dog,” “Big Boss Man,” and “Steam Roller Blues.”

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