Tuesday, December 23, 2014

11 The Sun Sessions (1976) Elvis Presley

  1. That's All Right
  2. Blue Moon of Kentucky
  3. I Don't Care If the Sun Don't Shine
  4. Good Rockin' Tonight
  5. Milkcow Blues Boogie
  6. You're a Heartbreaker
  7. I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone
  8. Baby Let's Play House
  9. Mystery Train
  10. I Forgot to Remember to Forget
  11. I'll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin')
  12. I Love You Because
  13. Trying to Get to You
  14. Blue Moon
  15. Just Because
  16. I Love You Because

Elvis Presley walked into Sun Studios and changed the world. He really did. He made it a better place and revolutionised the planet for all of us by inventing Rock and Roll. Sure there are those who believe he should share the credit with a handful of other people; and it feels like every week someone comes up with a new song they think should be called the first rock and roll record, but nobody could ever discount the impact that the original Sun recordings had on the world.

What sets Elvis apart from all the other people who started Rock and Roll was the fact that Elvis was white, at least cosmetically. He had white skin which meant when he played music written and originally recorded by black people it was acceptable to white folk. Not all of them of course, there were still people who thought all "Jungle Music" was inherently evil, but for a generation of white kids who were bored with their parents music (and who could blame them?) Elvis was a breath of fresh air and was the right colour as well. Ike Turner might like to claim he invented rock and roll but Elvis made it a style that everyone could enjoy.

But unlike Pat Boone, who took black music and bleached it till it was lifeless pop, Elvis understood what he was singing and brought something sensational to the table. He had an amazing voice and was an incredibly dynamic performer. Listening to these tracks more than sixty years after they were recorded they still have a real power and impact. The recordings might be in mono and they might show the degradation of age, but the performance is still fresh and exciting thanks to that amazing vocal talent. It's hard to believe that when he sang these songs he wasn't a seasoned studio performer and didn't have a massive concert career behind him. Before he played That's All Right he hadn't performed in a single live show, had any vocal training  or formal lessons. He hadn't met the band before or run through anything with them before that day. It was the sound of magic being made.

Credit should go to the band. In the years since Elvis performed in Sun we still haven't really improved on rock and roll band blueprint they laid down in that session. A drummer keeping rhythm, a bass player adding depth and a guitar player taking a lead break. It worked then and it still works today. Granted we've swapped the cumbersome upright bass for the more portable bass guitar but the principal is still the same. There's a reason why Scotty Moore is still revered by guitarists today. None of his playing sounds dated or old fashioned and his eight-bar guitar breaks are a thing of beauty and perfection.

The other reason to appreciate the Sun Sessions tracks is that, unlike a lot of his contemporaries, Elvis was a long way from a one trick pony. These 15 tracks encompass true rock and roll (That's alright, Good Rockin tonight) Country (Blue Moon of Kentucky) slow ballads (I'll Never Let you Go Little Darlin), blues (Milk Cow Blues) and popular standards (I Forgot to Remember to Forget, Blue Moon). Elvis took in a huge variety of musical styles and ideals in his life and he understood them all. He would later add Gospel to his repertoire with equal success.

I don't choose to put on Sun Sessions often by choice but I can't help but treat it with a degree of measured awe when I do. Elvis really was a huge talent and this really is music that changed the world. It turned rock and roll from a musical sideline into a revolution and popular music wouldn't be the same if it hadn't existed. Thanks Elvis, may you rest in peace.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Before Col Tom Parker, Before Ed Sullivan, Before Hollywood, Before Percilla, Before Hawaii, Before Las Vegas, Before Drugs, Before The Gut - There was ROCK and ROLL!! I Challange ANYONE to listen to this legendary first reconding session in 1955 and tell me there has ever been anyone better!!"

-Yeah, hard to disagree with that.

So is this the start of rock and roll or does something else deserve the credit? Let me know below

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