In the '50s, the Louisiana Hayride was the top country-oriented radio program in the U.S. Country was the Louisiana Hayride's bread and butter, although the show didn't exclude rockabilly -- and that made perfect sense because rockabilly was a fusion of country and blues. The early rockabilly artists (Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Buddy Holly, among others) were the sort of people who could listen to Hank Williams, Sr., Ernest Tubb, Kitty Wells, or Lefty Frizzell one minute and Muddy Waters or Louis Jordan the next. Elvis Presley definitely fit that description, and he was a Louisiana Hayride favorite. Released on Cleopatra's Stardust label in 2002, this CD focuses on Presley's Louisiana Hayride appearances of 1954-1956. Presley is in fine form on these recordings; the singer is very much in his prime on early hits like "Hound Dog," "Love Me Tender," and Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's "That's All Right, Mama." Presley is also quite inspired on performances of "Blue Moon of Kentucky" and Chuck Berry's "Maybellene." So why doesn't The Elvis Broadcasts on Air merit a very high rating? Its inferior sound quality. At best, the sound quality is lousy -- by '50s mono standards -- and on a few of the tunes, it is downright terrible. But that doesn't mean that collectors won't want this CD, or that the material doesn't have historic value. Presley was, after all, one of the most important early rock & rollers of the '50s, and the Louisiana Hayride was certainly among the most important radio programs of its time -- it was a show that no self-respecting country fan wanted to miss. Not recommended to casual listeners, The Elvis Broadcasts on Air is strictly for historians, completists, and hardcore collectors.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson