Elvis Presley

Concert Anthology 1954-1956

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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming

It's hardly overstating the case to say that Elvis Presley was arguably the most important performer in the history of American pop music, and one of the crucial periods in his musical development came during his two years as a regular on the country radio showcase The Louisiana Hayride, where he performed for a mass media audience for the first time and honed the performing skills that would make him a legend. There's long been a crying need for a quality collection of the surviving recordings of Presley's Louisiana Hayride appearances, but this package certainly isn't it. Concert Anthology 1954-1956 is comprised of 19 numbers Presley performed during Hayride broadcasts (mostly during 1955), but the album is compiled with little rhyme or reason, and there are no liner notes or broadcast details included. Worst of all, the sound quality of this material is frequently abysmal; while one can honestly expect only so much from 50-year-old air checks of AM radio broadcasts, this material has appeared in better fidelity before, and little seems to have been done to attempt to clean up the source materials, which are frequently riddled with hiss and surface noises. As a bonus, this set also comes with a six-song CD, in which Elvis' vocals from six numbers have been fused to new instrumental tracks featuring Lee Rocker and Slim Jim Phantom from the Stray Cats and Danny B. Harvey from the Swing Cats. The results aren't as offensive or disorienting as one might fear, but they don't sound very special, either, and it's hard to imagine anyone who cares about rockabilly who would rather hear Danny B. Harvey play guitar instead of Scotty Moore. Learn about Elvis' radio days elsewhere.

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