Elvis Presley

The Elvis Presley Collection: Rock 'N' Roll [Time-Life]

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The Elvis Presley Collection: Rock 'N' Roll [Time-Life] Review

by William Ruhlmann

It makes sense that the rock & roll entry in Time-Life Music's series The Elvis Presley Collection is one of the more impressive volumes. Presley defined rock & roll in the 1950s, and the songs with which he did so are here, from Sun recordings like "Good Rockin' Tonight" and "That's All Right" to the early RCA tracks "Heartbreak Hotel" and "Hound Dog." The peculiar format of the series calls for the two CDs/cassettes to be sequenced roughly chronologically and concurrently rather than consecutively, running from Presley's earliest '50s recordings through the '70s, so that each disc/tape constitutes a mini-history of the singer's work. Since Presley did most of his rocking at the beginning of this career, this means that most of each album is made up of early material, with a few scattered tracks at the end drawn from the late '60s and early '70s. That makes for an odd listening experience, and at a running time of almost seventy-five minutes, this set certainly could be more complete (or could have been squeezed onto one CD). But the quality of the material is inarguable. (There is a previously unreleased rehearsal performance of "Baby What You Want Me to Do" recorded at the time of Presley's 1968 television special.)

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