The Sun Masters

Elvis Presley (LPM-1254) Elvis Presley
Good Rockin' Tonight (7EG 8256) Elvis Presley
Janis And Elvis (RCA 130 253) Janis Martin and Elvis Presley
Good Rockin' Tonight (130.252) Elvis Presley
Elvis For Everyone (LPM/LSP-3450) Elvis Presley
A Legendary Performer Volume 1 (CPL1-0341) Elvis Presley
Good Rockin' Tonight (Bopcat LP-BF-100) Various Artists
The Sun Collection (HY-1001) Elvis Presley
Elvis The Sun Sessions (APM1-1675) Elvis Presley
The Sun Years - Interviews And Memories (Sun 1001) Elvis Presley
The Million Dollar Quartet (Charly Sun 1006) Various Artists
A Legendary Performer - Volume 4 (CPL1-4848) Elvis Presley
A Golden Celebration (CPM6-5172) Elvis Presley
Reconsider Baby (PL85418) Elvis Presley

The Complete Sun Sessions (PL 86414)2 Elvis Presley
Record 1 Side 1 ''The Master Takes''
Record 1 Side 2 ''The Master Takes''
Record 2 Side 3 ''The Outtakes''
Record 2 Side 4 ''The Alternate Takes''

The One Million Dollar Quartet (SP 5001) Various Artists
The Great Performances (PL-82227) Elvis Presley
Elvis At Sun (82876 61205) Elvis Presley

For Elvis Presley's Biography see: > The Sun Biographies <
Elvis Presley's Sun recordings can be heard on the playlists from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <


Collecting Elvis Presley's original Sun recordings is truly collecting pieces of history, and real history can be expensive. Not surprisingly, then, Presley's first released recording, 'That's All Right'' (Sun 209), for the independent Sun label in Memphis, continues to be a chip investment for anyone who has a spare $3206-$4007 for a Near Mint 45rpm copy. But although ''That's All Right'' will always be the Holy Grail of early Elvis artefacts, because of its historic position, it's not the most rare of his five Sun singles. His third release, ''Milkcow Blues Boogie'' (Sun 215), is definitely the scarcest, though it's hard to see where Elvis was heading with his rockabilly version of Kokomo Arnold's slow bottleneck blues from the 1940s. Starting with an out-of-tempo recitative passage before stepping into gear, Presley's cut of this musical tale about a disappearing source of income could nowadays clear your bank account to the tune of around $3206 - $4810. As he gained popularity, the slightly more musically compact and commercial – and, therefore, better seller at the time - ''Mystery Train'' (Sun 223) remains Elvis' easiest Sun release to acquire, still hovering between $2000 for a very clean copy.

Bearing in mind that all price suggestions are flexible until a sale has been made, and that actual sales can vary wildly, the projection for Presley's other two singles on Sun, ''Good Rockin' Tonight'' (Sun 210) and ''Baby Let's Play House'' (Sun 217), is about $1603 - $2404 apiece, and for that money you would also be buying records with a certain amount of surface noise, which is inherent in early Sun 45s that were pressed by Plastic Products Inc. in Memphis, Tennessee. This pressing plant, like many others at the time, reputedly used ''anything'' suitable that might have been available for the composite of records. Defective pressings, which Sun returned to the plant as being un-saleable, were recycled into new product. When you see yellow flecks buried in the playing surface of a Sun record, they are actually particles of the labels from recycled records. Everything went back in the pot!

Identifying authentic Sun records from fakes is a problem everyone has to get to grips with if intending to spend four figures for one record; and it's not so easy, as some spurious pressings look very authentic at first inspection. You can't always tell by the thickness of the vinyl. Original Memphis 45rpm pressings of Elvis' ''That's All Right'', for example, will have the matrix number, U-128-45 72, tightly etched by hand on the dead wax area of the record. ''72'' does not mean it was pressed in 1972, as some people think, it's the number given to that particular copper pressing-plate. Generalising about Sun records, those pressed on the west coast usually have a triangle or ''delta'' sign incorporated with the matrix number, which would not be present on a Memphis pressing. Real copies of ''That's All Right'', should also have three easy-to-see round impressions marks on the label area. All of Elvis' Sun records came in plain brown paper sleeves; company sleeves with the sunray design were printed much later. None of his records were issued with picture sleeves, and there were no EPs or LPs produced while Presley was under contract to Sun.

While everyone determined and rich enough would try to collect the full set of Elvis' original Sun 45s, before they become virtually unaffordable museum pieces – who plays them, scarcer option: the same titles pressed at 78rpm speed. Everyone knows how breakable these 10'' treasures are and, naturally, their survival rate seems to be lower than the less destructible 45.

The present scarcity of some 78s is a situation that was not helped by Sun, either. Tom Phillips, brother of Sun's owner Sam Phillips, ran the record shop with a distribution warehouse at the back, next to the studio at 706 Union Avenue. This later moved, as Select-O-Hits Inc., to 605 Chelsea Avenue in Memphis. Whenever there was a county fair, Tom would sell off cartons of 78s to the event organisers, who used them as targets at a kind of coconut shy. The records were individually hung on string and customers would throw hard balls to break as many as they could. A kewpie doll or teddy bear doesn't seem much of a prize compared to the records that got destroyed to win one, but relatively few people at the time would have thought that rockabilly and blues records held the promise of much future value.

There's another story, too, which is bizarre enough to be true. At the Sun warehouse, as well as having records stacked on racks and others packed in hundreds of cartons, there were many high piles of flatstacked 78s on the floor. One day Tom allowed a rockabilly collector by the name of Dan O'Coffey from England, into the warehouse to buy some old records at 25 cents each.

The visitor, shocked by the sea of records in front of him, promptly went into something resembling straight for the piles of 78s. Crashing into them, with one stack after the other cascading down, he managed to decimate a huge quantity of ultimate collectors' items in just a few minutes.

With incidents like this, natural breakage, and the wholesale dumping of 78s when 45s finally took over, it’s easy to see how brittle Elvis 78s have dwindled during the past 50-plus years.

In November 1955, Sam Phillips received $35,000 from RCA Victor in exchange for his singer and all of the master recordings he had cut at Sun (Elvis got $5000). ''Mystery Train'' (47-6357 released November 28, 1955), the last release on Sun, became Elvis Presley's first release on RCA. This was followed by ''That's All Right'' (47-6380 released December 19, 1955), ''Good Rockin' Tonight'' (47-6381 released December 19, 1955), ''Milkcow Blues Boogie'' (47-6382 released December 19, 1955) and ''Baby Let's Play House'' (47-6383 released December 19, 1955), before the new recording, ''Heartbreak Hotel'' (47-6420 released January 27, 1956), made its international entry in 1956.

All of the Sun reissues, and indeed other singles released by RCA that were made at Sun, such as ''Just Because'' b/w ''Tryin' To Get Of You'' (47-6639 released August 31, 1956) , can fetch between $100-$160. Near Mint copies are getting scarcer by the year, however, so any in top condition can command a premium.

1954 Sun 209 ''That's All Right'' b/w ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'' $3206 - $4007
1954 Sun 210 ''Good Rockin' Tonight'' b/w ''I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine'' $1603 - $2404
1955 Sun 215 ''Milkcow Blues Boogie'' b/w ''You're A Heartbreaker'' $3206 - $4810
1955 Sun 217 ''Baby Let's Play House'' b/w ''I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone'' $1603 - $2404
1955 Sun 223 ''I Forgot To Remember To Forget'' b/w ''Mystery Train'' $801 - $1603



Elvis at Sun album for sale by Elvis Presley was released June 22, 2004 on the BMG Heritage label. Cited by many historians as the definitive documents of rock and roll's earliest era, Elvis Presley's Sun recordings are cultural milestones arguably as influential as any American music ever created. Elvis at Sun supplants The Sun Sessions as the most comprehensive and well-researched single-disc collection of these historic tracks (the two-disc SUNRISE being the ultimate Sun mother lode). Pairing every extant original master tape with modern mastering techniques, the disc provides excellent-sounding versions of these cherished tracks. Elvis at Sun CD music contains a single disc with 19 songs.

Album Track Listing

1 - Harbor Lights
2 - I Love You Because
3 - That's All Right
4 - Blue Moon Of Kentucky
5 - Blue Moon
6 - Tomorrow Night
7 - I'll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin')
8 - Just Because
9 - Good Rockin' Tonight
10 - I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine
11 - Milkcow Blues Boogie
12 - You're Heartbreaker
13 - I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone (Slow Version)
14 - I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone
15 - Baby Let's Play House
16 - I Forgot To Remember To Forget
17 - Mystery Train
18 - Tryin' To Get To You
19 - When It Rains, It Really Pours

Original Sun Recordings


March 13, 1956 RCA Victor(LP) 33rpm LPM-1254 mono

Black label. Trademark Gramophone 1898 and Nipper on top. Label reads "Long 33 1/3 Play" at bottom. On the cover the catalog number is under the RCA logo in upper right.

''Elvis Presley'' (released in the United Kingdom as ''Elvis Presley Rock 'N' Roll'') is the debut studio album by American rock and roll singer Elvis Presley. It was released on RCA Victor, catalog number LPM-1254, in March 13, 1956. The recording sessions took place on January 10 and January 11, 1956 at the RCA Victor recording studios in Nashville, Tennessee, and on January 30 and January 31, 1956 at the RCA Victor studios in New York. Additional material originated from sessions at Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee, on July 5, August 19 and September 10 of 1954, and on July 11, 1955.

The album spent ten weeks at number 1 on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart in 1956, the first rock and roll album ever to make it to the top of the charts, and the first million-selling album of that genre. In 2003, it was ranked number 56 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, maintaining the rating in a 2012 revised list. ''Elvis Presley'' was also one of three Presley albums to receive accolades in the reference book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, the others being ''Elvis Is Back!'' and ''From Elvis in Memphis''. It was certified Gold on November 1, 1966 and Platinum on August 8, 2011 by the Recording Industry Association of America. The original 1956 United Kingdom release called ''Rock 'N' Rol''on HMV Catalog Number: CLP 1093 has six different tracks.

By the second half of 1955, singles on Sun Records by Presley began making the national country and western singles chart, "Baby Let's Play House" and "I Forgot to Remember to Forget" going to number 5 and number 1 respectively. Colonel Tom Parker, the new manager of Presley, had extensive dealings with RCA through his previous client, singer Eddy Arnold, especially with the head of the Country and Western and Rhythm and blues division, Steve Sholes. At the urging of Parker, on November 21, 1955, Sholes bought Presley's contract from Sam Phillips, the head of Sun Records and Studio, for the unprecedented sum of $35,000 (approximately $318,500 in 2017 dollars). Presley and rock and roll were still untested properties for the major labels in the music business, but this album, along with the number 1 single "Heartbreak Hotel", proved the selling power of both: it was the first RCA Victor pop album to earn more than $1,000,000, and in 1956 it had sold over one million units.

Presley made appearances in four consecutive weeks on the Dorsey Brothers television program Stage Show in early 1956, on January 28, February 4, February 11, and February 18. RCA wanted an album in the stores fast to capitalize both on the nationwide TV exposure and the success of his first hit single on the pop charts with "Heartbreak Hotel", swiftly climbing to the top after its release on January 27. At the same time, there had only been two series of Presley recording sessions for RCA Victor by the end of the Dorsey stint, after which Presley and his band were back on the road. Those two sessions yielded an additional eleven tracks, almost enough to fill an entire LP, although some tracks had singles potential. In the 1950s, general practice dictated tracks having greater commercial potential to be released as singles, with tracks of lesser appeal placed on albums; as such, RCA Victor neither took all eleven tracks and simply made an album, nor placed the already released and briskly-selling "Heartbreak Hotel" on it. The rights to the Sun Studio tapes had transferred to RCA Victor with the sale of his contract, so five previously unreleased Sun songs, "I Love You Because", "Just Because", "Tryin' to Get to You", "I'll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin')", and "Blue Moon" were added to seven of the RCA Victor sessions tracks to bring the running time of the album up to an acceptable length. Phillips produced the sessions at Sun, and no producer was officially listed for the RCA Victor sessions, leading to the belief that Presley himself produced them.

As the Sun tracks were mostly country-styled, Elvis and RCA Victor leavened the selections with covers of recent rhythm and blues songs. Two of these, "Money Honey" by Jesse Stone, known to Elvis from a version by Clyde McPhatter, and Ray Charles' 1955 hit "I Got A Woman", had been in Presley's live act for a year. A third was the frenetic announcement to the world of the existence of Little Richard in 1955, "Tutti Frutti". A rockabilly number that was believed to be a potential hit and could hold its own with the rhythm and blues material, "Blue Suede Shoes", was not initially released as a single from a promise by Sholes to Sam Phillips to protect the career of another Sun artist, Carl Perkins, the author of the song. Instead, it was diverted into being the opening track on the album.

On August 31, 1956, RCA Victor took the unusual step of releasing the entire album as singles, which undoubtedly kept the new single released simultaneously, "Shake, Rattle and Roll" backed with "Lawdy Miss Clawdy," from reaching the charts. However, "Blue Suede Shoes", released in single form as a part of this experiment by RCA Victor, kept the promise to Phillips and Perkins by waiting over eight months since the song's release on Sun, and made it to number 20 on the singles chart.

The cover is ranked number 40 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest album covers, published in 1991. The iconic photograph of Elvis was taken at the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory in Tampa, Florida, on July 31, 1955. Initially it was thought that Popsie Randolph took the image featured on the front cover, due to the fact that the album only credited one photographer. However, in August, 2002, Joseph A. Tunzi documented that the actual photographer was William V. "Red" Robertson of Robertson & Fresch. The Popsie credit attributed to the album only applied to a series of photos featured on the back cover, taken in New York City in early December, 1955, shortly after Presley had signed with RCA Victor. Tunzi was quoted in the Tampa Tribune as saying, "Forget about Popsie. Popsie did not take that photo''. The graphic and photo were also used on an EP and a double-EP comprising songs from this album, also released in March 1956.

The design was echoed by The Clash for the front of their 1979 album London Calling; that cover is number 39 on the Rolling Stone list of 100 greatest album covers noted previously. Other acts of cover homage include F-Punk by Big Audio Dynamite in 1995, and Reintarnation in 2006 by k.d. lang, Rise Up by Sir Cliff Richard in 2018 and Chumbawamba's controversial single "Tony Blair".

RCA first issued the original 12 track album in reprocessed (fake) stereo on compact disc in 1984. This issue was quickly withdrawn and the album was reissued in original monophonic sound. In 1999, RCA reissued the album with an altered running order, adding on six bonus tracks from three non-album singles, including the chart-toppers "Heartbreak Hotel" and "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You." In 2005, the album was reissued again, remastered using DSD technology with the six bonus tracks appended in standard fashion. A two-disc set was released on the Follow That Dream collectors label on August 15, 2006, with bonus tracks and numerous alternate takes.

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Side 1: Contains
1.1 - Blue Suede Shoes
1.2 - I'm Counting On You
1.3 - I Got A Woman
1.4 - One Sided Love Affair
1.5 - I Love You Because
1.6 - Just Because
1.5, 1.6 Original Sun Recordings
1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, Original RCA Recordings

Side 2: Contains
2.1 - Tutti Frutti
2.2 - Tryin' To Get To You
2.3 - I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry
2.4 - I'll Never Let You Go
2.5 - Blue Moon
2.6 - Money Honey
2.2, 2.4, 2.5 Original Sun Recordings
2.1, 2.3, 2.66 Original RCA Recordings


1957 His Master Voice (EP) 45rpm HMV 7EG 8256 mono

United Kingdom release. Blue label. His Master Voice on top of the label. ''Good Rockin' Tonight" was also in 1956 a "Hit Of The Month" EP released by the Motion Picture Service. Note: ''Milkcow Blues Boogie'' is misspelled on EP release. Probably the first time these Sun recordings were made available in Britain.

May people have, at one time or another, tried to pinpoint the reasons for overnight success in the music business but, despite all the attempts that have, so far, been made, no one has succeeded in producing an infallible formula. Fortunately, no one ever will for, if they did, show business would die.

Despite the many meteoric rises to the top of the Hit Parade with which we are greeted in this incredibly first moving times, none can match that of young Elvis Aron Presley from Tupelo, Mississippi, who, at the age of twenty-two has probably more smash hits to his credit than many a popular singer succeeds in reaching during his entire career. Dark haired, tall and good looking, Elvis Presley admits, with complete candour, that he thoroughly enjoys the fanatical acclaim with which the fans greet his every appearance and his delight at being paid such enormous sums of money for doing that which he most enjoys – singing the blues with a withering beat.

Ever since the overnight fame which his recording of ''That's All Right'' brought to him, Elvis has notched hit after hit and, though by no means foolish about his enormous income, has been in the fortunate position of being able to indulge his love of motor cars and motor bicycles – the count in cars is at least four Cadillacs – to his heart's content. But he has also taken this opportunity of assuring that his parents shall never have to worry for the future as they did in the past.

When all is said and done, the Presley personality and rhythm brought, in twenty-four hours, a deserved popularity which, for a considerable time, has kept Elvis right at the top.

Side 1: Contains
1.1 - Blue Moon Of Kentucky
1.2 - Good Rockin' Tonight
Original Sun Recordings

Side 2: Contains
2.1 - Milk Cow Blues (Milkcow Blues Boogie)
2.2 - Just Because
Original Sun Recordings


(1957) 1985 RCA France (10-inch EP) 33rpm RCA 130 253 mono

Black label. The circular RCA Victor logo at the top of the label is silver. On the cover catalog number in upper right. On the back cover, stage pictures of Janis Martin and Elvis Presley. Originally released in South Africa in 1957 is the sought after ''Janis And Elvis'' E.P. that was deleted shortly after its in itial release. It is available again in a limited edition (300 copies) modern format. Teal Records Company. The Dutch ''Elvis Corner'' shop celebrated its second anniversary with the reissue of the sought after ''Janis And Elvis'' E.P. A fantastic colour photo graces the cover of this beauty. "Janis And Elvis" was originally released as a 33 1/3 RPM 10-inch EP (RCA 31077) by RCA South Africa. Janis Martin was an artist RCA promoted for two years (1956-1958) as "The Female Elvis Presley". She charted just one single in that period, "Will You, Willyum", peaking at number 35.

She was promoted as the “Female Elvis” (although she had more of Patsy Cline) and RCA South Africa decided to really promote her releasing this double feature which featured alternating Elvis and Janis cuts, four on each side. The Elvis cuts were "Baby Let's Play House", "You're A Heartbreaker", "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone", and "Milkcow Blues Boogie". Janis' contributions were "Ooby-Dooby", "Let's Elope Baby", "One More Year To Go", and "Barefoot Baby". All songs that capture the boy - girl issues from the mid fifties very well, fun to hear these lyrics compared to the explicit lyrics of today's music.

The 1995 bootleg edition of this release featured the additional ''My Boy Elvis'' . According to history it was withdrawn the day after its original release on Colonel Tom Parker's instructions: "My boy don't share no record with a woman". Janis disappeared pretty quickly too. By the time she was 16 (she was signed to the label aged 15) she was married and pregnant … that ended a career real quickly in those days.

Side 1: Contains
1.1 - I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone (Elvis Presley)
1.2 - Ooby Dooby (Janis Martin)
1.3 - Milckow Blues Boogie (Elvis Presley)
1.4 - Let's Eloppe Baby (Janis Martin)

Side 2: Contains
2.1 - Baby, Let's Play House (Elvis Presley)
2.2 - One More Year To Go (Janis Martin)
2.3 - You're A Heartbreaker (Elvis Presley)
2.4 - Barafoot Baby (Janis Martin)
Elvis Presley (Original Sun Recordings)
Janis Martin (Original RCA Recordings)


1961 RCA France (LP) 33rpm 130.252 mono

Yellow label. RCA logo on top. This extremely rare French 8-track 10-inch LP contained both sides of Elvis's first four Sun Records releases. "Good Rockin' Tonight" is significant because it didn't have the echo that RCA added to all of the Sun material. What you have here is the basic Sun sound in all its glory.

Side 1: Contains
1.1 - Good Rockin' Tonight
1.2 - I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine
1.3 - That's All Right
1.4 - Blue Moon Of Kentucky
Original Sun Recordings

Side 2: Contains
2.1 - Baby Let's Play House
2.2 - I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone
2.3 - Milkcow Blues Boogie
2.4 - You're A Heartbreaker
Original Sun Recordings


August 1965 RCA Victor (LP) 33rpm LPM/LSP-3450 mono/stereo

Included Sun master with overdubbing. Black label. Trademark Gramophone 1898 and Nipper on top. Label reads "Monaural". On the cover the catalog number in lower left. RCA logo and Nipper in lower right. Since LaVern Baker's recording hadn't yet been released, it was Lonnie Johnson's version that Elvis influenced his styling. This overdubbed version of "Tomorrow Night" was released nine years after Elvis recorded it. For several years it was feared the original master of "Tomorrow Night" was either lost or destroyed. That fear provide to be unfounded, as RCA released the original version in 1985 on the "Reconsider Baby" (AFL1-5418) album, Sun master. "Elvis For Everyone" was originally going to be called "Elvis' Anniversary Album" to commemorate Elvis' tenth year with RCA. Tracks on the album were primarily unreleased songs from recording sessions dating back as far as February 24, 1957. The cover featured Elvis behind a sales counter with the following five LPs displayed: "Elvis Presley", "Elvis", "Elvis' Golden Records", "G.I. Blues", and "Blue Hawaii". "Elvis For Everyone" reached number 10 on Billboard's Top LPs chart. It had a 27-week stay on the chart.

Side 1: Contains
1.1 - Your Cheatin' Heart
1.2 - Summer Kisses, Winter Tears
1.3 - Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers
1.4 - In My Way
1.5 - Tomorrow Night (Overdub Sun Unissued)
1.6 - Memphis, Tennessee
1.5 Original Sun Recording (Overdub)
1.1-1.4, 1.6 Original RCA Recordings

Side 2: Contains
2.1 - For The Millionth And The Last Time
2.2 - Forget Me Never
2.3 - Sound Advice
2.4 - Santa Lucia
2.5 - I Met Her Today
2.6 - When It Rains, It Really Pours
Original RCA Recordings


January 2, 1974 RCA Victor (LP) 33rpm CPL1-0341 mono

Black label. Gold letters. Large die-cut hole in center. The previously unreleased "Tonight's All Right For Love" and an alternate take of "I Love You Because" were featured on this album. Until this album, "Tonight's All Right For Love" had been available only in non-English speaking countries. Also included were unreleased versions of "Love Me", Tryin' To Get To You", and "Are You Lonesome Tonight" from the 1968 TV special "Elvis"; two excerpts from the "Elvis Sails" EP; and seven previously released recordings. "Elvis A Legendary Performer, Volume 1" came with a 16-page booklet, "The Early Years". The album jacket had a die-cut window that allowed the photo on the cardboard innersleeve to be seen. Later pressings had the standard cover. In 1978 RCA released an experimental picture disc using the contents of this LP. Sales for "Elvis A Legendary Performer, Volume 1" exceeded #1 million and a Gold Record was certified by the RIAA on January 8, 1975. The album had a 14-week stay on Billboard's Top LPs chart, peaking at #43. After Elvis Presley's death, the album recharted for another 14 weeks, this time reaching #62.

Side 1: Contain
1.1 - That's All Right
1.2 - I Love You Because (Sun Unissued)
1.3 - Heartbreak Hotel
1.4 - Elvis Sails Interview
1.5 - Don't Be Cruel
1.6 - Love Me
1.7 - Tryin' To Get To You
1.1, 1.2 Original Sun Recordings
1.3-1.7 Original RCA Recordings

Side 2: Contains
2.1 - Love Me Tender
2.2 - Peace In The Valley
2.3 - Elvis Sails Interview
2.4 - A Fool Such As I
2.5 - Tonight's All Right For Love
2.6 - Are You Lonesome Tonight
2.7 - Can't Help Falling In Love
Original RCA Recordings


1974 Bopcat Records (LP) 33rpm BF-100 m/*ono

Bootleg release. Alternate and unissued Sun recordings. Black label. Bopcat logo on top. Label reads "E. Aron" on top. On the back cover liner notes of discographical information.

Seven Sun recordings of Elvis Presley. All the rest of the selection Sun recordings of Jerry Lee Lewis, George Klein, Warren Smith, and Billy Riley. Also includes studio discussion with Jerry Lee Lewis, Sam Phillips, Billy Riley, and James Van Eaton. The highlight of the record, however, has to be this studio discussion between Sam Phillips and Jerry Lee Lewis about religion. Lewis argues that rock and roll is not Christian and doesn't promote the Lord's work. Sam Phillips eventually persuades Lewis to record a rousing rendition of "Great Balls Of Fire". This album was limited to 500 copies and it is the best LP from the Sun years.

The track '' Savin' It All For You'' by Warren Smith is wrongly titled and credited to Warren Smith, it's in fact a track by Pee Wee Trahan titled ''Keepin' All My Lovin'''.

The original liner notes...

With this record, the Bopcat label is launched to bring to the public, some of the best and most influential rock music ever recorded. The roots of all rock music are to be found in the sounds made in the Southern states of the U.S.A. during the 1950s, when there was a fusion of black rhythm and blues with with country music. The symbol of the new music was Elvis Presley, and included on ''Good Rockin' Tonight'' are some of the best and previously unissued recordings together with other important and unissued recordings by the three more top artists who were in Memphis during the 1950s.

Side One

On 5 July 1954, Sam Phillips, boss of Sun Records assembled at the studio of his Memphis Recording Service three country musicians and he had the idea of recording them in a similar way to the blues musicians he had already been recording for some years. There was a young singer who liked gospel music, but who could follow the energetic pace worked up by the electric guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black. This trio had worked on several songs over the past weeks and had tested them out with the band of Doug Poindexter of which Moore and Black were currently members. They were country musicians, but Sam Phillips had insisted that they concentrate on developing a popular rhythm and blues rhythm and this they did, becoming the first ever rock and roll band.

From this first recording session came ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', a bluegrass song tackled in a completely new way. The version originally released is faster than the strong country take included here, which shows that a lot of work went into the creation of the Sun Sound. The fusion of country, blues and gospel music that went into Southern rock and roll came naturally to the performers, who had grown up hearing all three styles, but the important and difficult step was to create a sound in the recording studio that would combine them in a commercial manner. ''That's real fine. That's a pop song now'', says Sam Phillips at the end of ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky''.

The next session for the group came in September 1954 when ''Good Rockin' Tonight'' resulted. The stylistic fusion applied equally well to blues songs such as this Roy Brown and Wynomie Harris hit, and also to popular songs such as ''I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine'' which was recorded at the same session.

The version of this song included here has also not been issued before. The complete version with its strong bass rhythm is proceeded by two false starts when the singer loses the rhythm and then breaks down in laughter as he forgets the words.

The importance of the new sound lay in the fact the the white country audience could now buy ''black'' music by a white group and this began a breakdown in rigid musical segregation which is still continuing today. The only bad result of this way that many of the best slower, country performances have been unissued until now. ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', for example, and also ''My Baby Is Gone'', the test acetate pressing of which the local disc jockey's left aside in favor of the faster version of the song which Sam Phillips issued as ''I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone''. Another unissued performance is ''I'll Never Let You Go Little Darlin''' which combines the slower and the fast style on the same song.

By July 1955, the trio had become a rock and roll quartet. Drummer D.J. Fontana had worked with the Shreveport, Louisiana radio station KWKH and joined the group during their frequent radio appearances in Shreveport during the early part of 1955. Fontana's drumming adds support to the heavy rock and roll beat of ''Mystery Train''. (Note: It would later appear that it is not D.J. Fontana, but Johnny Bernero with brushes drums on ''Mystery Train''). This had previously been a rhythm and blues hit for the Sun label in the hands of it's creator, Junior Parker, while the last track had been conceived as a country song by Stan Kesler and Charlie Feathers and their owen arrangement of the song is followed on the version included here. Charlie Feathers still plays the song this was in Memphis to this day (1974).

Side 1 Contains
1.1 - Good Rockin' Tonight (Sun 210)
1.2 - My Baby Is Gone (Alternate Take)
1.3 - I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine (Alternate Take)
1.4 - Blue Moon Of Kentucky (Alternate Take)
1.5 - I'll Never Let You Go (Alternate Take)
1.6 - Mystery Train (Sun 223)
1.7 - I Forgot To Remember To Forget (Sun 223)
All tracks by Elvis Presley
Original Sun Recordings

Tracks 1.1, 1.6, 1.7 from side one are taped from mint 78 rpm Sun recordings.

Side Two

The music on this side shows how three talented and different young Southern musicians built upon the Presley legend and the success of the Sun Sound, which became known as Rockabilly music.

Billy Riley has never had a really successful commercial record, but his contribution to the development of music in Memphis is important, as label boss, as session musician, and certainly not least as a singer. The Arkansas country singer came to Memphis in 1955 and met up with Slim Wallace and Jack Clement who were trying out some songs on a tape recorder in Wallace's-garage on Fernwood Drive in Memphis. They later started the Fernwood label, but the two songs they recorded with Riley were sold to Sam Phillips, and are now included here.

Warren Smith had made a similar move to Memphis and while Riley was taping his songs at Fernwood, Smith got a job as singer with the country band of Clyde Leoppard. Part of this band went with Smith to Sun on his first recording session when a rockabilly sound was tried out. ''Savin'It All For You'' was one of the earliest recordings from the session, and Smith later went on to be a successful country singer. His contribution to rock and roll is also evident. (Note:The track '' Savin' It All For You'' by Warren Smith is wrongly titled and credited to Warren Smith, it's in fact a track by Pee Wee Trahan titled ''Keepin' All My Lovin'''.

One of the most creative artists in early Southern rock and roll was Jerry Lee Lewis. Using only the piano and a sparse backing Lewis was able to generate fantastic energy and always chancelled it in a fresh way. No two versions of one song ever sound the same where Lewis was involved. The version of ''Great Balls Of Fire'' included here is considerably different from the hit version, just as ''Milkshake Mademoiselle'' is different from the other two takes recorded at the same session.

''The Return Of Jerry Lee'' is a comedy recording interspersed with questions from disc jockey George Klein. These questions do not touch upon the subject of religion, but on this as on most things Lewis has a lot to say. Billy Riley was present at the session which resulted in ''Great Balls Of Fire'', and before the musicians got to work on recording, he turned the tape on a discussion which Jerry Lee Lewis was having, principally with Sam Phillips. Lewis had once been a pupil at a Southern bible school and despite his wild image and undeniably outrageous activities he had kept his fundamental religious beliefs.

These were under some pressure from the financial success he was having with ''Whole Lotta Shakin''' and other recordings, and in this discussion he is unable to reconcile the ''devil's'' music with his Christian aim of saving souls. Sam Phillips is trying to tell him that his music may not be religious but its effect need not be evil. It seems that Phillips eventually managed to persuade Lewis - the world of rock music would have been poorer had he not.

Bopcat Records have released these recordings, most of which have been unavailable too long, in an attempt to show the wide range of musical influences and personalities that went to make the beginnig of rock music. The tracks here come only from Memphis and only from four sets of musicians, but much similarly good music went unissued or unheard at the time of original recording and these are not the only artists who deserve to be heard. Memphis is not the only city that produced such music. It has been the aim of Bobcat Records, to make this music available to the public and to achieve a greater understanding of the roots of rock music.

Side 2 Contains
2.1 - The Return Of Jerry Lee Lewis (Sun 301)
2.2 - (Narration by George Klein & Louis Pittman)
2.3 - Savin' It All For You (Warren Smith)
2.4 - Milkshake Mademoiselle (Jerry Lee Lewis)
2.5 - Studio discussion between Sam Phillips, Jerry Lee Lewis,
James Van Eaton & Billy Riley
2.6 - Great Balls Of Fire (Jerry Lee Lewis)
2.7 - Rock With Me Baby (Billy Riley)
2.8 - Trouble Bound (Billy Riley)
Original Sun Recordings


July 1975 Starcall RCA (LP) 33rpm HY-1001 mono

Green label. Two versions known to exist, one says "Starcall" whereas the other does not. On the cover, two versions known to exist, one has ads for other Starcall series LPs on the backcover, the other has the discography and Sun Records story, the same as the "The Sun Sessions". Fifteen songs recorded by Elvis Presley at Sun Records in 1954 and 1955, as well as an alternate take of "I Love You Because" were included in this English import LP. In 1976 the album gained wide distribution in the United States, prompting RCA release "The Sun Sessions".

The story about the sleeve notes for the Elvis Presley Sun Collection was one of the first writing gigs that Nigel Goodall undertook on special for an album. On hearing about the project, he approached Shaun Greenfield, then the RCA product manager in the United Kingdom, with his offer to submit some sleeve notes for the sixteen track compilation of recordings Elvis had made in the Sun studios in Memphis between 1954 and 1955. Although RCA had asked Roy Carr of the New Musical Express to write the notes, it was not one hundred percent settled if he would. It was under those conditions and the proviso that if Carr went ahead, they would be featured on the finished album, that Nigel proceeded with his notes, but by the time he had delivered them to RCA, Carr had already submitted his, which as RCA made clear from the outset ended up on the album. The only copy of the notes that Nigel retained was his own personal copy that were printed on a blank white record sleeve, and signed by Elvis Presley in 1976, but regrettably lost during a house move in the early 1990s.

Side 1 Contains
1.1 - That's All Right (Sun 209)
1.2 - Blue Moon Of Kentucky (Sun 209)
1.3 - I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine (Sun 210)
1.4 - Good Rockin' Tonight (Sun 210)
1.5 - Milkcow Blues Boogie (Sun 215)
1.6 - You're A Heartbreaker (Sun 215)
1.7 - I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone (Sun 217)
1.8 - Baby, Let's Play House (Sun 217)
Original Sun Recordings

Side 2 Contains
2.1 - Mystery Train (Sun 223)
2.2 - I Forgot To Remember To Forget (Sun 223)
2.3 - I'll Never Let You Go
2.4 - I Love You Because
2.5 - Tryin' To Get To You
2.6 - Blue Moon
2.7 - Just Because
2.8 - I Love You Because (Take 2)
Original Sun Recordings


March 11, 1976 RCA (LP) 33rpm APM1-1675 mono

Tan label. RCA logo left at center. Victor logo right at center. On the cover the RCA logo in lower right. On the back cover RCA logo in upper right. Liner notes by Roy Carr. Innersleeve has ads for other Elvis LPs. The Sun Sessions is a compilation of Elvis Presley recordings at Sun Studios in 1954 and 1955. It was issued by RCA Records in 1976. It had been issued and charted as The Sun Collection in the United Kingdom the previous year. It features liner notes by Roy Carr of the New Musical Express. It features most of the tracks recorded at Sun studio by Sam Phillips, the head of Sun Studios.

The LP it includes "That's All Right'' one of the few recordings regarded as "the first rock and roll record''. Phillips said that Presley was rehearsing with his band, Scotty Moore and Bill Black, when Presley started singing the song, a blues song written by Arthur Crudup. Phillips said that the version of the song was what he was looking for when he signed Presley, and turned the tape recorder on. Elvis recorded more than 20 songs at the Sun studio, including some private recordings. Of these, 15 appear on this album. The Sun Sessions was released in March 1976 and reached number 76 on the pop and number 2 on the country charts. The single "Baby, Let's Play House" combined with "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone" reached number 5 on the country charts in 1955. The single "That's All Right" did not chart in the United States when released in 1954, and it was never issued as a single in Great Britain during Presley's lifetime.

In 2004, the song became the focus of attention when it was the subject of a great deal of publicity because of the 50-year anniversary. There was a special ceremony on 6 July 2004 featuring Isaac Hayes, Justin Timberlake, more which was beamed live to 1200 radio stations. The song went top 5 in the United Kingdom and Canada and also charted in Australia. The Sun Sessions was also reissued in 2004 (in Japan only) to celebrate the anniversary.

In 2003, the album was ranked number 11 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 2001, the TV channel VH1 named it the 21st greatest album of all time. All music rates it as five stars, saying "it collects his first, and arguably most important, recordings into one convenient package. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll included two tracks from the album, "Mystery Train" and "That's All Right."

In 2002 The Sun Sessions were chosen by the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress to be included in its archives given their importance to the development of American popular music. This album is the very first Elvis album to feature "I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine", which was only previously issued as a single. After more than 20 years, "The Sun Sessions" marked the song's official debut on LP.

Side 1 Contains
1.1 - That's All Right (Sun 209)
1.2 - Blue Moon Of Kentucky (Sun 209)
1.3 - I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine (Sun 210)
1.4 - Good Rockin' Tonight (Sun 210)
1.5 - Milkcow Blues Boogie (Sun 215)
1.6 - You're A Heartbreaker (Sun 215)
1.7 - I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone(Sun 217)
1.8 - Baby, Let's Play House (Sun 217)
Original Sun Recordings

Side 2 Contains
2.1 - Mystery Train (Sun 223)
2.2 - I Forgot To Remember To Forget (Sun 223)
2.3 - I'll Never Let You Go
2.4 - I Love You Because
2.5 - Tryin' To Get To You
2.6 - Blue Moon
2. 7 - Just Because
2.8 - I Love You Because (Take 2)
Original Sun Recording


1977 Sun International (LP) 33rpm SUN 1001 mono

Yellow label. Has the outer circle of musical notes and staff around the entire label, with exception of the bar wherein "Memphis, Tennessee" appears. The cover is light yellow; cream colour. Printing is done in light brown. On the back cover liner notes by Max Needham. Some variations: Yellow label, same as shown above for Sun-1001 . Covers white with brown printing. No song on this album is sung in its entirety. In some cases, the edited version only lasts 15 or 20 seconds. Standard Sun releases and alternate takes make side 1, except for "Heartbreak Hotel", which is from Elvis Presley's third appearance on TVs "Stage Show" on February 11, 1956. Actual recording sessions with the voices of Sam Phillips and Elvis Presley can be heard. Side 2 features two more songs from February 11, 1956, and three from Elvis Presley's first "Ed Sullivan Show" appearance. Interviews with Jay Thompson in Wichita Falls and Charlie Walker in San Antonio, Texas, can also be heard. Shortly after the release of this album, RCA took legal action to have the Shelby Singleton produced album removed from distribution. Later copies of the album were distributed by Charly Records of London, England. Gilbert Blasingame Jr. narrated "The Sun Years". As a result of successful legal action by RCA, Sun Records manufacture and distribution of this LP was halted shortly after its release.

Side 1: Contains
Parts from actual recording sessions with the voice of Sam Phillips, the voice of Elvis resley, plus excerpts of Elvis Presley's Sun recordings, issued and unissued.
1.1 - I Love You Because
1.2 - That's All Right
1.3 - Blue Moon Of Kentucky
1.4 - Blue Moon Of Kentucky
1.5 - I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine
1.6 - Good Rockin' Tonight
1.7 - I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine
1.8 - Milkcow Blues Boogie
1.9 - You're A Heartbreaker
1.10 - My Baby's Gone
1.11 - I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone
1.12 - Baby, Let's Play House
1.13 - Mystery Train
1.14 - I Forgot To Remember To Forget
1.15 - Mystery Train
1.16 - Heartbreak Hotel
1.1-1.15 Original Sun Recordings

Side 2: Contains
Two more songs from "Stage Show" - "Shake, rattle And Roll" (January 28, 1956) and three from Elvis's first "Ed Sullivan Show" appearance. Interviews by Jay Thompson at Wichita Falls, Texas, Charlie Walker at San Antonio, Texas, plus various other rare Elvis Presley talking intros on stage and television.
Blue Suede Shoes
Radio Announcements

Shortly after the release of this album, RCA took legal action to have the Shelby Singleton - produced album removed from distribution. Later copies of the album were distributed by Charlie Records of London, England. Gilbert Blasingame Jr. narrated "The Sun Years".

Note: As a result of successful legal action by RCA, Sun Records manufacture and distribution of this LP was halted shortly after its release. Since there were never any second pressings, and since all of the variations appeared at about the same time, we have listed them all.


July 1981 Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sun 1006 mono

"Million Dollar Quartet" is a recording of an impromptu jam session involving Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash made on December 4, 1956, in the Sun Record Studios, 706 Union Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee. An article about the session was published in the Memphis Press-Scimitar under the title "Million Dollar Quartet". The recording was first released in Europe in July 1981 as The Million Dollar Quartet with 17 tracks on the Charly label (Sun 1006). A few years later more tracks were discovered and released as The Complete Million Dollar Session. In 1990, the recordings were released in the United States as ''Elvis Presley - The Million Dollar Quartet''.

The jam session seems to have happened by pure chance. Carl Perkins, who by this time had already met success with "Blue Suede Shoes", had come into the studios that day, accompanied by his brothers Clayton and Jay Perkins and by drummer W.S. ''Fluck'' Holland, their aim being to cut some new material, including a revamped version of an old blues song, "Matchbox". Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records, who wanted to try to fatten this sparse rockabilly instrumentation, had brought in his latest acquisition, Jerry Lee Lewis, still unknown outside Memphis, to play piano (at the time, a Wurlitzer Spinet) on the Perkins session. Sometime in the early afternoon, 21-year-old Elvis Presley, a former Sun artist now at RCA, dropped in to pay a casual visit accompanied by a girlfriend, Marilyn Evans.

After chatting with Phillips in the control room, Presley listened to the playback of Perkins’ session, which he pronounced to be good. Then he went out into the studio and some time later the jam session began. At some point during the session, Sun artist Johnny Cash, who had recently enjoyed a few hits on the country charts, popped in. (Cash wrote in his autobiography Cash that he had been first to arrive at the Sun Studio that day, wanting to listen in on the Perkins recording session.) Jack Clement was engineering that day and remembers saying to himself "I think I'd be remiss not to record this" and so he did. After running through a number of songs, Elvis and girlfriend Evans slipped out as Jerry Lee pounded away on the piano. Cash wrote in Cash that "no one wanted to follow Jerry Lee, not even Elvis''.

During the session, Phillips called a local newspaper, the Memphis Press-Scimitar. Bob Johnson, the newspaper’s entertainment editor, came over to the studios with UPI representative Leo Soroca and a photographer. Johnson wrote an article about the session, which appeared the following day in the Memphis Press- Scimitar under the headline "Million Dollar Quartet". The article contained the now-famous photograph of Presley seated at the piano surrounded by Lewis, Perkins and Cash (the uncropped version of the photo also includes Evans, shown seated atop the piano).

(From TV News And Views - Memphis Press Scimitar by Robert Johnson 5 Dec. 56)

''I never had a better time than yesterday when I dropped in at Sam Phillip's Sun Record bedlam on Union and Marshall. It was what you might call a barrell-house of fun. Carl Perkins was in a recording session, and he has one that's going to hit as hard as ''Blue Suede Shoes''. We're trying to arrange an advance audition for you Memphis fans before the song is released in January. Johnny Cash dropped in. Jerry Lee Lewis was there, too, and then Elvis dropped by.

Elvis headed for the piano and started in on ''Blueberry Hill''. The joint was really rocking before they got thru. Elvis is high on Jerry Lee Lewis. ''That boy can go'', he said. ''I think he has a great future ahead of him. He has a different style, and the way he plays piano just gets inside me''.

I never saw Elvis more likeable than he was just fooling around with these other fellows who have the same interests as he does.

If Sam Phillips had been on this toes, he'd have turned the recorder on when that very unrehearsed but talented bunch go to cutting up on ''Blueberry Hill'' and a lot of other songs. That quartet could sell a million.

This was the first intimation the world had of the existence of what was to become known as ''The Million Quartet''. Rumoured, speculated upon; it was the ultimate mystery, the ultimately unobtain able recording for a quarter of a century. Even now the whole mystery isn't solved but at least our voracious appetite for anything pertaining to the Million Dollar Quartet is partially appeared; at least we now what they sounded like.

I suspect that the Robert Johnson piece didn't arouse the intense interest that the M.D.Q. was to subsequently generate. The American '16 Magazine obviously picked up on the Johnson story for in their May issue of 1957 they had this to say about the event: ''Here's how the jam session came about: One afternoon recently Elvis dropped in to see his old friend, Sam Phillips, owner of Sun Records, where Elvis got his start. With Elvis were two friends, Marilyn Evans and Cliff Gleaves. In a nearby studio, Jerry Lee Lewis, who records for Sun, was rehearsing for a recording session; and with him were Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash, who had stopped by to hear the tape on Carl's newest, ''Match Box Blues''.

After talking for a while, Elvis moved over to the piano in Jerry's studio and started pounding out ''Blueberry Hill''. Then he began singing it. Carl and Johnny drifted over and they and Jerry joined in, making it a quartet. Marilyn leaned on the piano, listening to this fabulous group. From ''Blueberry Hill'' swung into ''Isle Of Golden Dream'' - and there followed perhaps the most fantastic vocal concert ever heard as these four young artists just let loose and enjoyed themselves, singing old songs, new songs, soft songs, rock and roll songs - and hymns''.

The article in the Memphis Press Scimitar establishes the exact date of this momentous occasion as the 4th December 1956. Odd then that there is no such date filed for a Perkins recording session. Could this just be an error in the Sun files, or is there another explanation? Bear in mind that Carl and his brothers were involved in a near fatal accident on their way to New York the previous March. (For Jay Perkins it was ultimately to prove fatal). The band hadn't played or recorded for some nine months. So finally they're ready to record and go in for another session. One pf the songs they have lined up, an old Blind Lemon Jefferson number (last recorded by the Shelton Bros in 1947), is called ''Matchbox Blues''. Sam had suggested a young blonde kid who'd just cut his first single, ''Crazy Arms'', to augment the group on piano. They cut \\Matchbox'', maybe another tune or two and in walks Elvis, a knock-dolly on his arm. ''Hey, Elvis man who's that chick...''. Elvis is back home for Christmas. He's just swept the nation with his second appearance on the Ed Sullyvan Show a month ago. He chats to carl, after all whilst Carl's been languishing in hospital Elvis has taken his song ''Blue Suede Shoes'' up the top of the charts. Jerry Lee demans to be introduced. The musicians sit back, waiting to get on with the session. But instead Elvis strolls over to the oiano, hits a few desultory notes, carries on chatting, the guys start reminiscing; the Million Dollar Quartet session is under way. After Christmas Carl returns to the Sun studio to do a full session and records ''Matchbox'' again along with ''Your True Love'', ''Put Your Cat Clothes On'', ''You Can Do No Wrong'' and ''Caldonia''. Pure speculation of course, but it's interesting that a whole lot of new tapes by Carl have just recently been discovered amongst the Sun archives. There's two versions of ''Matchbox'' and a whole host of ''Put You Cat Clothes On'', but back to December 4th.

Once it had become obvious that Elvis was in no hurry to leave, Sam Phillips never one to miss an opportunity, phoned the local press who sent along photographer George Pierce along with columnist Robert Johnson. ''Everything was off mike. If it was on mike, it was by accident'', recalls Sam. ''I told Jack Clement. ''Man, let's just record this. This is the type of feel, and probably an occasion, that who knows? - we may never have these people together again'''. Jack Clement remembers it mucu the same way. ''It was rather a momrntous occasion. The only reason I taped it was we just decided: all that carryin' on ought to be recorded''. And recorded it most certainly was, but what became of the tapes? Well, one of the reasons for recording it was ''to send everybody filled many magazine over the years. One popular contender, ''Big Boss Man'' wasn't even written at the time of the session. Published articles obviously accounted for the inclusion of ''Blueberry Hill'', and ''Isle Of Golden Dreams''. Other suggested titles included ;;I Won't Cross Jordan Alone'', ''The Rugged Old Cross'', ''Cry Cry Cry'', ''Down The Line'' and ''Peace In The Valley''. In fact out of that list of titles only ''Peace In The Valley'' has emerged on the half hour tape at present available. It is interesting to note that at the time of the M.D.Q. Elvis hadn't recorded any religious songs. At his very next session he was to do so, cutting ''I Believe'', ''Take my Hand Precious Lord'' and, yep you guessed it, ''Peace In The Valley'' in Hollywood on 12/13 January 1957, having song it on the Ed Sullivan show six days earlier. Now I wonder what prompted him to sing it there? Everybody recalls Jerry Lee singing the Sister Rosette Tharpe number ''Strange Things Happening'', but it doesn't appear on this tape. Obviously then there was more. Jack Clement puts it at two to three hours, in which case, somewhere there's another 4 to 5 albums still to be revealed. But what of the songs that we actually have?

We kick off with ''Just A Little Talk With Jesus'', Carl, his brothers, W.S. Holland privide the instrumental backing. Elvis and Jerry Lee harmonie. Most of the time Carl's tenor harmony is consigned to oblibion. Says Carl, ''I sat down beside Elvis on the piano stool and we shared a microphone. Jerry Lee had a microphone by himself, and he - as always - did get in there. I remember most of the things he was singing would be too high or too low, but they was in the one or two keys that Elvis could play in. That's why on some of the stuff it was almost impossible for me to sing tenor rhythm''. And where does Johnny Cash figure in all this? Well, Carl recalls that once the photographic session was over he went shopping! Just a Million Dollar Trio then perhaps? They chat, they prompt each other through ''Walk That Lonesome Vally'', ''I Shall Not Be Moved'', ''Peace In The Valley'', ''Down By The Riverside''. Gradually the band drop out. Maybe they come to the conclusion that the session just isn't going to be continued now and thet've got better things to do. Elvis sets about imitating Hank Snow's naval tones with uncanny accuracy on ''I'm With The Crowd But Oh So Alone'', after all he's toured with Snow quite extensively. When he first introduced himself to Snow at the Grand Ole Opry, Snow asked him what his real name was. Devil incarnate. And yet here he is singing ''Father Along'', ''Blessed Jesus Hold My Hand'', ''As We Travel Along On The Jericho Road'' and ''I Just Can't Make It By Myself''. And singing along with him are those other two exponents of the godless music, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis!

Bill Monroe's ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'' was one of the songs that helped launch the Presley legend. Elvis demonstrates his familiarity with Monroe's music by not only singing ''Little Cabin On The Hill'' but also giving a passable imitation of Monroe's vocal. (It would be another 14 years before Elvis actually recorded the number on his ''Country'' album). Then it's back to the religious tunes that they were all weaned on, ''Summertime Has Passed And Gone'', ''I Hear A Sweet Voice Calling'', a tough of country lament on ''And Now Sweetheart You've Done Me Wrong'' and a lovely rendition bu Carl of Wynn Stewart's ''Keeper Of The Key''. A snatch of ''Crazy Arms'' (after all Jerry Lee has just recently recorded it, he'd be bound to bring it in), and then perhaps the biggest surprise of all. Pat Boone has just hit with ''Don't Forbid Me''. (Bear in mind that Boone is still something of a rival to Presley). Elvis explains with a tough of bravado that he's had the song for months but never really bothered with it. He proceeds to prove the point by singing the number accompayning himself at the piano. At some point Jerry Lee took over the piano stool for Carl remember Elvis saying, ''The wrong man's been sitting here at the piano''. To which Jerry Lee riposted, ''Well, I been wanting to tell you that. Scoot over''. But that must have happened later. Exactly what happened later is still a closed book. But let us be thankful for this brief moment of history being made, now after all these years, available to us. Sam was right, all these people never would all get together in a studio again.

(With acknowledgements to Peter Guralnick - ''Million Dollar Memories'', New Kommotion no 25, and Nick Tosches ''The Million Dollar Quarter Marked Down'', Goldmine No. 56).

Adam Komorowski (Editor New Kommotion)

> The Million Dollar Quartet Sessions <

Side 1 Contains
1.1 - Just A Little Talk With Jesus
1.2 - Walk That Lonesome Valley
1.3 - I Shall Not Be Moved
1.4 - (There'll Be) Peace In The Valley
Original Sun Recordings

Side 2 Contains
2.1 - Down By The Riverside
2.2 - I'm With The Crowd But So Alone
2.3 - Father Along
2.4 - Blessed Jesus Hold My Hand
2.5 - As We Travel Along On The Jericho Road
2.6 - I Just Can't Make It By Myself
2.7 - Little Cabin On The Hill
2.8 - Summertime Has Passed And Gone
2.9 - I Hear A Sweet Voice Calling
2.10 - And Now Sweetheart You've Done Me Wrong
2.11 - Keeper Of The Key
2.12 - Crazy Arms
2.13 - Don't Forbid Me
Original Sun Recordings


November 1983 RCA (LP) 33rpm CPL1-4848 mono

Black label. White and gold letters. RCA logo at center. Booklet inside the cover. On the back cover RCA logo lower right. Finally, after 20 years, RCA released the Elvis Presley/Ann-Margret duet, "The Lady Loves Me". The tune had previously appeared only on bootleg LPs. "Plantation Rock" also was officially released for the first time. Also on this album, an unreleased Sun master, "When It Rains, It Really Pours", acquired from Sun Records with extras from the recording session. "I'm Beginning To Forget You" and "Mona Lisa" were newly discovered at Graceland. Alternate and unreleased versions of eight other songs and Elvis Presley interviews with Ray and Norma Pillow, a 12-page booklet completed the album. "Elvis - A Legendary Performer, Volume 4" did not chart.

Side 1: Contains
1.1 - When It Rains, It Really Pours (Unissued Sun Master)
1.2 - Interviews By Ray And Norma Pillow
1.3 - One Night
1.4 - I'm Beginning To Forget You
1.5 - Mona Lisa
1.6 - Plantation Rock
1.7 - Swing Down Sweet Chariot
1.1 Original Sun Recording
1.2-2.7 Original RCA Recordings

Side 2: Contains
2.1 - The Lady Loves Me
2.1 - Wooden Heart
2.3 - That's All Right
2.4 - Are You Lonesome Tonight
2.5 - Reconsider Baby
2.6 - I'll Remember You
Original RCA Recordings


October 1984 RCA Victor (LP) 33rpm CPM6-5172 mono

6 LP Box set. Gold label with white letters. RCA logo left at center. On the back cover RCA logo in upper left. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Elvis Presley's birth, RCA release this fabulous six-record boxed set.

Included were Sun sessions outtakes; complete "Stage Show" appearances; complete Milton Berle and Steve Allen appearances; two performances at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show on September 26, 1956; complete "Ed Sullivan Show" appearances; songs from the June 27, 1968, taping of the "Elvis" TV special; and nine newly discovered home recordings (five songs were never known to have been recorded by Elvis Presley). Liner notes by Colin Escott.

"A Golden Celebration" peaked at number 80 on Billboard's Top LPs chart, remaining on the chart for 19 weeks. On the Hot Country LPs chart, the boxed set reached number 55 and had a seven-week stay.

Side 1: Contains
The Sun Sessions Outtakes, Memphis, Tennessee - 1954 and 1955
1.1 - Harbor Lights
1.2 - That's All Right
1.3 - Blue Moon Of Kentucky
1.4 - I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine
1.5 - My Baby Is Gone
1.6 - I'll Never Let You Go
1.7 - When It Rains, It Really Pours
Original Sun Recordings

(Side 1) - Here is a black and white photograph to conjure in your mind's eye: It is the middle of a sweltering summer and a young man is standing by his pickup truck staring at a building across the road. He knows this building, knows exactly what happens inside, and is making up his mind to take the first step and enter.

What brought Elvis Aron Presley, eighteen-and-a-half years old that summer of 1953, to the front door of the Memphis Recording Service? Could dear mother America, in her most generous moment, have petitioned the fates for this day - Elvis Presley, along with guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, recorded prolifically for Sam Phillips - undoubtedly more than the ten Sun singles, the five songs on the first RCA LP, and the new material and alternate takes included here. But this completes the release of '''The Sun Sessions" known to exist at this time. whose precise date is as yet unknown in her histories? Or are we content to accept the sheer luck of this curious teenager, on his second or third job after graduating high school, to chance upon a situation that might start him down the road to that ill-defined something called The American Dream? 

Whatever supposition you subscribe to, keep it to yourself a moment, as a half-year more goes by. Not much has changed, except the season; it's January of the new year and Elvis is making the same forty dollars a week driving a truck for Crown Electric Company. Heck, even his high school friends Johnny and Dorsey Burnette (with whom he often messes around singing and picking guitar) are making more than that working for Crown, since they passed their tests and' joined the electricians' union. It is a few days before his nineteenth birthday and, as if by instinct, he finds himself back at Memphis Recording Service. 

This time he meets the proprietor, Sam C. Phillips, who has been recording local talent - black, white, rhythm and blues, country, whatever sounds good and sells - for his own Sun Records label (and occasionally other labels around the country) since 1950. In Elvis Presley, Sam Phillips finally heard what he'd been waiting for: A voice that country music folks could swear was black; that the rhythm and blues crowd would embrace as their own; and most importantly, that young people would rally 'round as their coming-of-age. 

Sam Phillips released a finite quantity of music by Elvis Presley on the Sun label, five singles to be precise, ten songs issued between July 1954 ("That's All Right" b/w "Blue Moon of Kentucky") and August 1955 ("Mystery Train" b/w "l Forgot to Remember to Forget"). They were uncommonly similar records - each consisting of a familiar rhythm and blues number on the A-side, coupled with a B-side drawn from country sources (and on one occasion, from Walt Disney's Cinderella, whence came "I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine," the flip of "Good Rockin' Tonight"). 

The impact of these five records reverberates three decades later and rightly so, for they sound a litany of tension-and-release that is an essential ingredient of rock and roll. One should not underestimate our debt to Sam Phillips, for instilling certain crucial standards of recording in Elvis, whose sensibilities could've been warped forever by a lesser man in charge of "The Sun Sessions''. Sam Phillips sold Elvis Presley's recording contract to RCA Records in November 1955, including the ten Sun single sides, and boxes of magnetic recording tape that held a quantity of unreleased masters and alternate takes (of released and unreleased material). Five of these tracks were immediately included on Elvis Presley, his first long-player of March 1956. 

Twenty years later, another Sun master was issued, "Harbor Lights," and it is that track which opens our Golden Celebration. Thought to have been recorded during the first Sun session of July 1954, it is a companion to the next cuts, an early attempt at "That's All Right" and the oft-rumored "slow take" of "Blue Moon of Kentucky''. 

Similarly, the following pair of selections are each an "alternate" take of a Sun B-side: "I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine" from the September 9, 1954 session that yielded Elvis' second single; and ''I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone (My Baby's Gone)" from the December 18th session that yielded his third single, ''Milkcow Blues Boogie''. And again, "I'll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin')" is an early take, different from what's heard on the first RCA LP. 

Concluding this side is "When It Rains, It Really Pours," penned by William Robert "Billy the Kid" Emerson, the Florida rhythm and bluesman brought to Sam Phillips in 1954 by his "talent scout" Ike Turner. Emerson recorded his song in September 1954, (perhaps later in) the same month Elvis cut "Good Rockin' Tonight;" as it happened, Emerson's sixteen months at Sun Records very nearly coincided with Elvis' sixteen months there, his "When It Rains" was released the same day as Elvis' third single, "Milkcow Blues Boogie'' - on Elvis' 20th birthday, January 8, 1955. 

Elvis Presley, along with guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, recorded prolifically for Sam Phillips- undoubtedly more than the ten Sun singles, the five songs on the first RCA LP, and the new material and alternate takes included here. But this completes the release of ''The Sun Sessions" known to exist at this time. 

Side 2: Contains
The Dorsey Brothers "Stage Show" - New York, NY, 1956
2.1 - Shake, Rattle And Roll
2.2 - Flip, Flop And Fly
2.3 - I Got A Woman
2.4 - Baby, Let's Play House
2.5 - Tutti Frutti
2.6 - Blue Suede Shoes
2.7 - Heartbreak Hotel
Original RCA Recordings

Side 3: Contains
The Dorsey Brothers "Stage Show" - Continued, New York, NY, 1956
3.1 - Tutti Frutti
3.2 - I Was The One
3.3 - Blue Suede Shoes
3.4 - Heartbreak Hotel
3.5 - Money Honey
3.6 - Heartbreak Hotel
Original RCA Recordings

Side 4: Contains
The Milton Berle Show, San Diego and Hollywood, California, 1956
The Steve Allen Show - New York, NY, 1956
4.1 - Heartbreak Hotel
4.2 - Blue Suede Shoes/Dialogue/Blue Suede Shoes
4.3 - Hound Dog/Dialogue
4.4 - I Want You, I Need You, I Love You
The Steve Allen Show
4.5 - Dialogue/I Want You, I Need You, I Love You
4.6 - Introduction And Hound Dog
Original RCA Recordings

Side 5: Contains
The Mississippi-Alabama Fair And Dairy Show - Tupelo, Mississippi, 1956
5.1 - Heartbreak Hotel
5.2 - Long Tall Sally
5.3 - Introduction And Presentation
5.4 - I Was The One
5.5 - I Want You, I Need You, I Love You
5.6 - I Got A Woman
Original RCA Recordings

Side 6: Contains
The Mississippi-Alabama Fair And Dairy Show - Continued Tupelo, Mississippi, 1956
6.1 - Don't Be Cruel
6.2 - Ready Teddy
6.3 - Love Me Tender
6.4 - Hound Dog
6.5 - Interviews Vernon And Gladys Presley
6.6 - Nick Adams
6.7 - A Fan
6.8 - Elvis
Original RCA Recordings

Side 7: Contains
The Mississippi-Alabama Fair And Dairy Show - Continued Tupelo, Mississppi, 1956
7.1 - Love Me Tender
7.2 - I Was The One
7.3 - I Got A Woman
7.4 - Don't Be Cruel
7.5 - Blue Suede Shoes
7.6 - Baby, L et's Play House
7.7 - Hound Dog/Announcements
Original RCA Recordings

Side 8: Contains
The Ed Sullivan Show - Hollywood, California and New York, NY, 1956
8.1 - Don't Be Cruel
8.2 - Love Me Tender
8.3 - Ready Teddy
8.4 - Hound Dog
8.5 - Don't Be Cruel
8.6 - Love Me Tender
8.7 - Love Me
8.8 - Hound Dog
Original RCA Recordings

Side 9: Contains
The Ed Sullivan Show - Continued, New York, NY, 1956
9.1 - Hound Dog
9.2 - Love Me Tender
9.3 - Heartbreak Hotel
9.4 - Don't Be Cruel
9.5 - Too Much
9.6 - When My Blue Moon Turns To Gols Again
9.7 - Peace In The Valley
Original RCA Recordings

Side 10: Contains
Elvis At Home - Germany 1958-1960
10.1 - Danny Boy
10.2 - Soldier Boy
10.3 - The Fool
10.4 - Earth Angel
10.5 - He's Only A Prayer Away
Original RCA Recordings

Side 11: Contains
Collectors Treasures - Discovered at Graceland, Date Unknown
11.1 - Excerpts From An Interview For TV Guide
11.2 - My Heart Cries For You
11.3 - Dark Moon
11.4 - Write To Me From Naple
11.5 - Suppose
Original RCA Recordings

Side 12: Contains
Elvis - Burbank, California, 1968
12.1 - Blue Suede Shoes
12.2 - Tiger Man
12.3 - That's All Right
12.4 - Lawdy Miss Clawdy
12.5 - Baby What You Want Me To Do/Monologue
12.6 - Love Me
12.7 - Are You Lonesome Tonight
12.8 - Baby What You Want Me To Do (Reprise)
12.9 - Monologue/Blue Christmas/Monolue
12.10 - One Night
12.11 - Tryin' To Get To You
Original RCA Recordings

Project A&R Director Gregg Geller
Project Marketing Director Don Wardell
Side 5, 6, 7, 10 and 11 Produced by Joan Deary
Engineer Dick Bogert
Technical Supervision Charles Kaplan
Audio Restoration Art Shifrin
Project Engineer Rick Rowe and Joe Lopes
Mastered by Jack Adelman
Art Director Joe Stelmach
Annotation Z Factor and Lorene Lortie
A&R Administration Amanda Armstrong, Kathy Dopp and Sherry Rettig

Special thanks to Marty Olinich, Fio Allen, Paul Artman, Seymour Bricker, Jack Chudnoff, Richard Green, Katie Greenberg, Herb Hellman, Ron Holder, Allen Kress, Dean Landew, Colonel Tom Parker, Jack Philbin, and Alfred Wertheimer. 


1985 RCA Records (LP) 33rpm PL 85418 mono
A 12-song, budget-priced compilation of Elvis' most notable blues sides for the RCA label. A good place to  start digging Elvis' commitment to the music, always returning to it right up through the 1970s like an old  friend, whenever he needed a quick fix of the real thing, as he takes on everything from rhythm and blues  slices like Tommy Tucker's "High Heel Sneakers" to Percy May field’s "Stranger In My Own Home Town''.  Major highlights on this collection are Elvis playing acoustic rhythm guitar and driving the band through a  take of the Lowell Fulton title track, blistering versions of two Arthur Crudup songs, an unreleased Sun  recording of Lonnie Johnson's "Tomorrow Night," and the R-rated take of Smiley Lewis’s "One Night (Of  Sin)''. Included a 2-page booklet with liner notes by Peter Guralnick. The fine photograph on the cover was  taken by Lloyd Russell Sherman.
Elvis Sings The Blues

''I remember the first time I met the great bluesman, Howlin' Wolf, in 1966. He started talking about white blues singers, a new concept at the time. He liked Paul Butterfield, he said, also "that other boy - what's his name? Somewhere out in California, that ''Hound Dog'' number." He was talking about Elvis Presley. But surely Elvis couldn't be considered strictly a singer, somebody pointed out. Maybe not, conceded Wolf in that great hoarse growl of his, but "he started from the blues. If he stopped, he stopped. It's nothing to laugh at. He made his pull from the blues''.

Wolf was right, of course, but I never thought the world would come around to that point of view. Elvis Presley, Bluesman? It sounds a little far-fetched, even though this was the very title that my friends and I conferred on Elvis in fantasy as we were growing up and discovered, one by one, both the songs on this record and others like them buried on albums, disguised as Christmas offerings, obscured as the B-sides of singles. Elvis continued to sing the blues, obviously because he wanted to. No one was pushing him to record this sort of material, and it seemed to us over the years as if he was transmitting a kind of secret message, keeping faith with his roots and his fans as he delivered some of his most engaged, and engaging, performances (often in the midst of an utter wasteland of surrounding material) on songs that recalled his earliest sides. His first record ("That's All Right"), after all, was a blues. The first source of cultural confusion that he provoked was primarily racial (when he went on the radio in Memphis immediately after the release of his first single, disc jockey Dewey Phillips immediately established the name of the high school from which he had recently graduated, simply to dispel the widespread assumption that he was black). And if he didn't exactly fit the stereotype -well, neither did Howlin' Wolf, neither does B.B. King; individuation is the essence of the blues. At its best this is truly a music of personal expression, not happy, not sad, not limited to any musical formula, but sui generis, engaging the singer on whatever terms he happens to choose. And in the end who could be more sui generis than Elvis Presley, a bluesman who yearned to be saved, a rocker who aspired to sing like Dean Martin, a convention-scatterer who prized convention, a white man singing the blues?

The proof should be in the music - and it is. From the opening notes of Lowell Fulson's "Reconsider Baby" (introduced by Elvis' emphatically strummed rhythm guitar) to the impassioned version of Charles Brown's "Merry Christmas Baby" that closes the album, what we get here is a singer who is altogether absorbed, and altogether at - so much so that he doesn't want to let it go and in several instances just keeps mashing home with his material down on the lyrics, repeating a verse over and over (like Wolf, or his favorite gospel singers) until he has wrung every last ounce of emotion from it. There's every kind of blues here, from the intensity of "Stranger In My Own Home Town", a Percy Mayfield tune that Elvis transforms into a very personal metaphor even in the midst of some of the most screwy production work Chips Moman ever did (but it works!), to the irrepressible high spirits of "Ain't That Loving You Baby" (taken at a breakneck pace in this hitherto unreleased alternate version, which thankfully omits the Jordanaires). There's the casual insouciance of Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's "So Glad You're Mine," the breathtaking beauty of Lonnie Johnson's blues ballad "Tomorrow Night" (which in this also unreleased Sun demo version is taken almost a capella) along with the tough rhythm and blues stance of "Down In The Alley" and "One Night (Of Sin)'' - yes, these are the original, un bowdlerized lyrics. Sometimes the instrumentation is a little shaky, occasionally the production may falter, but Elvis is always idiomatic, lyrically at ease, rhythmically confident, never doubting for a moment that when he growls "Play those blues, boy," his accompanists will respond in kind. When his voice fails him (on the "Hi-Heel Sneakers" session he seems to have had a cold, as well as to have pitched the song too low), he improvises like a bluesman, making a virtue out of necessity and creating out of his hoarseness a sense of wordless you feel as if on each of these songs Elvis has been set free. There is no need to menace. The whole album is like that - worry about image, there is no need to worry about effect. He remains on each of the cuts the same shiny-eyed teenager who showed up in the Sun studio in Memphis one day and declared to label owner Sam Phillips (who had himself declared already that he was looking for a white boy with "the Negro sound and the Negro feel") that he was a "sucker" for the blues.

In the early 1960s, when Elvis was out of style, he seemed to lose faith in himself and his music. Not surprisingly the signal for his regeneration was a series of blues singles ("Big Boss Man'', "Guitar Man'', ''Hi-Heel Sneakers'', ''U.S Male") that went largely unnoticed at the time, and the '68 TV Special, whose centerpiece was a nakedly intimate, almost embarrassingly spontaneous live concert he did with his original Sun sessionmates (now packaged on video as ''One Night with You''), which focused not surprisingly on the blues. In the end I don't think there is any question that this is what Elvis will be remembered for: the feeling that he created, not necessarily the fashion. And that's what you get on this album in abundance: the pure feeling of Elvis' music, unencumbered by myth or self-consciousness, the very sound that first rocked the world.

- Peter Guralnick, February 1985

Side 1 Contains
1.1 - Reconsider Baby
1.2 - Tomorrow Night (Original Sun Recording)
1.3 - So Glad You're Mine
1.4 - One Night
1.5 - When It Rains, It Really Pours
1.6 - My Baby Left Me
1.7 - Ain't That Loving You Baby
Side 2 Contains
2.1 - I Feel So Bad
2.2 - Down In The Alley
2.3 - Hi-Heel Sneakers
2.4 - Stranger In My Own Home Town
2.5 - Merry Christmas Baby
Project A&R Director - Gregg Geller
Project Marketing Director - Don Wardell
Project Engineer - Rock Rowe
Mastering Engineer - Jack Adelman

1987 RCA (LP) 33rpm PL 86414(2) mono

2 Record set. Black label. This is the definitive Sun sessions set. Included on the two records were 16 Sun master recordings, 5 alternate takes of "I Love You Because", 7 alternate takes of "I'm Left, You're Right, She,s Gone", and outtakes of 6 other tunes. Extensive liner notes by Peter Guralnick relating Elvis Presley's months at Sun Records and background information on the songs.

This is it, your perfect starting point to understanding how Elvis as Howlin' Wolf so aptly put it, "made his pull from the blues''. All the source points are there for the hearing; Arthur Crudup's "That's All Right'', Roy Brown's "Good Rockin' Tonight'', Kokomo Arnold's "Milkcow Blues Boogie'', Arthur Gunter's "Baby, Let's Play House'', and Junior Parker's "Mystery Train''. Modern day listeners coming to these recordings for the first time will want to reclassify this music into a million sub-genres, with all the hyphens firmly in place. But what we ultimately have here is a young Elvis Presley, mixing elements of blues, gospel and hillbilly music together and getting ready to unleash its end result ''rock and roll'' on an unsuspecting world.

Liner notes by Cub Koda


Record 1 Side 2 ''The Master Takes''
1.1. - That's Alright (1:56) > Sun 209-A <
1.2. - Blue Moon Of Kentucky (2:03) > Sun 209-B <
1.3. - Good Rockin' Tonight (2:12) > Sun 210-A < 
1.4. - I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine (2:27) < Sun 210-B <
1.5. - Milkcow Blues Boogie (2:34) > Sun 215-A <
1.6. - You're A Heartbreaker (2:12) > Sun 215-B <
1.7. - Baby Let's Play House (2:15)  > Sun 217-B <
1.8. - I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone (2:36) > Sun 217-A < 
Original Sun Recordings

Record 1 Side 2 ''The Master Takes''
2.1 - Mystery Train (2:25) > Sun 223-A < 
2.2 - I Forgot To Remember To Forget (2:28) > Sun 223-B <
2.3 - I Love You Because (2:42) 
2.4 - Blue Moon (2:37) 
2.5 - Tomorrow Night (2:58)
2.6 - I'll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin') (2:22)
2.7 - Just Because (2:33) 
2.8 - Trying To Get To You (2:39)
Original Sun Recordings

Record 2 Side 3 ''The Outtakes''
3.1 - Harbor Lights (2:35) 
3.2 - I Love You Because (Takes 1, 2) (3:50)
3.3 - That's All Right (2:10) 
3.4 - Blue Moon Of Kentucky (1:03)
3.5 - I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine (3:37) 
3.6 - I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone (My Baby's Gone) (Take 9) (2:44)
3.7 - I'll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin') (1:03) 
3.8 - When It Rains, It Really Pours (4:04)
Original Sun Recordings

Record 2 Side 4 ''The Alternate Takes (Previously Unreleased)''
4.1 - I Love You Because (Take 3) (3:31)
4.2 - I Love You Because (Take 4) (0:31) 
4.3 - I Love You Because (Take 5) (3:25)
4.4 - I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone (My Baby's Gone) (Take 7) (2:56) 
4.5 - I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone (My Baby's Gone) (Take 8) (2:53)
4.6 - I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone (My Baby's Gone) (Take 10) (0:19) 
4.7 - I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone (My Baby's Gone) (Take 11) (2:41) 
4.8 - I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone (My Baby's Gone) (Take 13) (1:31) 
4.9 - I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone (My Baby's Gone) (Take 12) (2:38)
Original Sun Recordings

He tried not to show it, but he felt so inferior... Elvis Presley probably innately was the most introverted person that ever came into that studio. He didn't play with bands. He didn't go to this little club and pick and grin. All he did was sit with his guitar on the side of his bed at home. I don't think he even played on the front porch.

- Sam Phillips, founder of Sun Records 

It was on a hot summer day in 1953 that a young man, just out of high school, first showed up all the door of the Memphis Recording Service, a custom studio whose motto read ''We record anything – anywhere – anytime''. For a few minutes he paced nervously outside the plate-glass window clutching a beat-up guitar, then finally plunged into the small outer office whose reception area was already filled to capacity by the three or four customers waiting to make a "personal" record of their own for just $3.98 plus tax. Sitting behind the desk jammed to the left of the door was an attractive woman in her mid-thirties, who took the young man's name and politely asked him to take a seat while he waited his turn. "(At first) I wondered if he wanted a handout'', Marion Keisker later recalled. "We get a lot of drifters along Union Avenue. His hair was long and shaggy, and he was wearing khaki work clothes and was dirty. Of course he had his guitar''. 

"W"ho do you sound like''> Mrs. Keisker asked, just to make conversation.
"l don 't sound like nobody'', said the young man politely. 

When it finally came his turn to record, Marion Keisker ushered the young man back info the little studio where blues singers B.B. King and Howlin Wolf and Ike Turner had all cut their first sides for Memphis Recording Service owner Sam Phillips, who had a leasing arrangement with the Chess and Modern labels in Chicago and Los Angeles. Phillips, who had recently started his own label, Sun, was just about to go out for lunch, so Marion set up the acetate disc cutter herself and, halfway through the young man's performance of his first song, an old Ink Spots number called "My Happiness'', she decided to make a reference tape as well. His guitar playing was rudimentary, and his singing style "changed every eight bars'' as he swung erratically from a thin tenor to a somewhat wobbly bass and back again - but Marion felt there was something "differed'' about his voice and she thought Sam would, too. She got about a third of "My Happiness" on tape and all of his second song, another Ink Spots number called "That's When Your Heartaches Begin'', complete with recitation. She noted down his address and a neighbor's telephone number on a piece of paper that was headed: Elvis Presley. Good ballad singer. Hold''. 

The young man returned some six months later, on January 4, 1954, and recorded two more slow numbers, this time in a western style, "Casual Love Affair" and "I'll Never Stand In Your Way''. On this occasion it was 31-year-old Sam Phillips who noted the singer's name and the fact that he was "a good ballad singer''. If anything suited to his style were to come up in a commercial vein, Sam assured the young truck driver, he would call him. "I had never sung anything but slow music and ballads in my life at that time'', said Elvis Presley, reminiscing just two years later. 

He stopped by the studio often in the next few months, trying out songs and seeking out advice, but Sam Phillips didn't call him for anything even resembling a session until June. Phillips had gotten a demonstration record that spring from Peer Publishing in Nashville on a song called "Without You'' and, struck by the soulful quality in the singers voice, had contacted Peer to see if he could put out the demo on Sun. No one at Peer even knew the name of the singer, though; it was just a young black man who had been hanging around the studio. 

"What about the kid with sideburns''? said Marion Keisker.
''If you can get him over here.. said Phillips.
I called and asked him at his convenience to come see us'', recalled Marion. "l turned around, and there was Elvis coming through the door. I think he ran the way''. 

As good an idea as if may have seemed to every one involved, it didn't work out the way that any of them planned. For whatever reason, Elvis Presley couldn't capture the special quality that Sam Phillips had heard in that anonymous black man's voice and Sam Phillips was definitely looking for something different. For Phillips, who had started out as a radio announcer and engineer in his hometown Florence, Alabama, individuality had always been the one quality he had most pursued and prized. In Memphis he had made his reputation broadcasting the big bands on a national hookup for the Hotel Peabody Skyway, but he soon grew disillusioned with the way those bands were ''programmed''. Every orchestra, every number sounded alike. It bored me, and I assumed it also bored the public. It just seemed to me that (the Negro people) were the only ones who had any freshness left in their music''. That was why he had started the Memphis Recording Service in 1950, "just to make records with some of (the) great Negro artists''. And it was why he had started his own record label two years later. He had never, he boasted at the time, "made a record with an established star yet", and he was looking even then for the same distinctiveness that he continues to seek to this day. 

"Without You" was simply not the right vehicle to bring it out in this singer. At Phillips' instigation the young man ran through every song in his repertoire, including "Rag Mop'', a host of Billy Eckstine favorites, and just about every number in the Dean Martin songbook. Sam Phillips wasn't sure just what he head but he knew he heard something. "I suppose it was all the gospel singing Elvis had done that gave me a hint of that special thing'', he said a year or two later. Marion Keisker had evidently heard the same thing when she originally noted the name. ''Over and over," she told Elvis biographer Jerry Hopkins, "I remember Sam saying, 'If I could find a white man who had the Negro sound and the Negro feel, I could make a billion dollars'''. 

At this same time there was a young guitarist in Memphis named Scotty Moore who also had a vision. Moore, recently out of the Navy and working as a hatter in in his brother's dry-cleaning establishment, had just cut a record for Sun with the group he was fronting, Doug Poindexter and the Starlite Wranglers. The record, "My Kind Of Carrying On'', has been pointed to as a seminal step in the development of rockabilly music, but if it in fact represented the seed of the revolution, it was a very modest seed that remained to be planted. For Scotty Moore if was contact with Sam Phillips that crystallized his sense of where the music was going. 

"He knew there was a crossover coming'', says Scotty. "He foresaw it. I think that recording all those black artists had to give him an insight; he just didn't know where that insight would lead. Well, Sam and I got to be pretty good friends, just by my hanging around the studio at the time. It got to be an almost daily thing, fact, I would get through work and just drift down to the studio, and we would sit there over coffee at Miss Taylor's Cafe next door and say to each other, ''What is it?''. 

That was where Sam Phillips first mentioned Elvis Presley's name to Scotty Moore "The best I can remember, he can sing pretty good'', Sam said. Well, that started me to thinking, and every day after that I would ask him, Did you call the guy? No, ''Did you call the guy? After a couple of weeks of this - either me or Marion bothering him all the time - he finally went back to the studio one day and actually came up with the number. He fold me, 'You get him to come over the house and see what you think of him'. Which I did''. 

"Bill Black (the bass player in the Starlite Wranglers) lived just a couple of doors down, and he came down and listened for a while. Well, you know, Elvis came in, he was wearing a pink suit and white shoes and duck-tail, I thought my wife was going to go out the back door. We sat around a couple of hours going through a bit of everything - Marty Robbins, Billy Eckstine, Hank Snow, Eddy Arnold, you name it. After he left Bill came back and said, do you think? I said, 'Well, he sings good, but I can't really say he knocks me out.' This was on a Sunday afternoon. The next day I told Sam the same thing, and he called Elvis to set up an audition''. 

''A few days later, I believe it was the following Monday night (this would have been July 5, 1954, following that June 27 initial meeting), Elvis came in for the audition. Sam just wanted to see what he sounded like on tape, because quite naturally you can sound quite a bit different in the studio than sitting around the living room singing. It wasn't intended to be a session - that was the reason just Bill and I were there. Well, we tried three or four things. ''Love You Because''' I believe was the first thing we actually put on tape. Then we were taking a break, I don't know, we were having Cokes and coffee, and all of a sudden Elvis started singing a song, jumping around and just acting the fool, and then Bill picked up his bass and he started acting the fool, too, and, you know, I started playing with 'em. Sam, I think, had the door to the control booth open - I don't know, he was either editing some tape or doing something - and he stuck his head out and said, you doing?' And we said don't know'. 'Well, back up,' he said, 'try to find a place to start, and do it again'''. 

And that, according to Scotty Moore, was the genesis of "That's All Right'', a free-flying blues with a country beat that sounds - for all the work that went into it - as fresh and spontaneous as the most spontaneous Howlin' Wolf blues that Sam Phillips ever put on wax. The next night the trio came up with "Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', a reworking of the Bill Monroe classic arrived at under similar circumstances, and by the end of the week Sam Phillips had a two-sided acetate to deliver to three Memphis disc jockeys. Country disc jockeys Uncle Richard and Sleepy Eye John jumped on the bluegrass tune, but it was the irrepressible Dewey Phillips, a Memphis taste maker whose role in the popularization of rock and and rhythm and blues cannot be overstated, who really put the record across. He played it over and over again, first one side, then the other, while the unwitting subject of all this furor went to the movies (a western double bill). "When the phone calls and telegrams started to come in," Dewey told writer Stanley Booth, "I got hold of Elvis' daddy, Vernon. He said Elvis was down at Suzore's No. 2 Theatre. 'Get him over here', I said, and before long Elvis came running in. Sit down, I'm gone interview you', I said. He said, 'Mr. Phillips, I don't know nothing about being interviewed'. Just don't say nothing dirty', I told him''. 

"He sat down, and I said I'd let him know when we were ready to start. I had a couple of records cued up, and while they played we talked. I asked him where he went to high school, and he said, 'Humes.'I wanted to get that out, because a lot of people had thought he was colored. Finally I said, All right, Elvis, thank you very much.'Aren't you gone interview me?' he asked. 'I already have', I said. The mike's been open the whole time'. He broke out in a cold sweat''. 

The record was released on July 19, just two weeks after it was recorded. On July 27, Marion Keisker brought a very uncomfortable - looking Elvis Presley down to the Memphis Press-Scimitar building, where he was interviewed by theater critic Edwin Howard (who would later make a record of his own for Sun). "Marion said he was a truck driver'', recalled Howard, "and he could only come during his lunch hour. I'll never forget.. .he walked in there looking like the wrath of God. Pimples all over his face. Duck-tail hair. Had a funny-looking thin bow tie on. He was very hard to interview. About all I could get out of him was yes and no''. 

On July 30 Elvis appeared at an outdoor concert at the Overton Park Shell headlined by Slim Whitman. He didn't go over very well at the afternoon show, where he sang mostly ballads. In the evening he came back with ''Good Rockin' Tonight'', and the shock was heard all around the world. Elvis Presley himself was no less shocked, it seemed. "My very first appearance'', he recalled in a 1956 interview, "I was on a show in Memphis as an extra added single. I was scared stiff. I came out, and I was doing a fast-type tune, and everybody was hollering, and I didn't know what they were hollering at. Everybody was screaming and everything, and I came offstage and my manager told me that they was hollering because I was wiggling. And so I went back out for an encore, and I did a little more. And the more I did, the wilder they went''. 

That was the story in a nutshell; that was the genesis of Elvis Presley. The more he did, the wilder they went. Everyone knows something of the progression of events. Sometimes it is portrayed Hollywood-style as a long, hard, roller coaster-like climb, with obstacles looming along the way. Unquestionably, to the participants it must have seemed like a perilous ride which could come to an end of any moment ("We didn't have any idea how this thing was going to turn out'', says Sam Phillips today (1987). With the benefit of hindsight, though, it seems more like a nuclear explosion.

On September 10, Elvis recorded "Good Rockin' Tonight'', the Wynonie Harris blues with which he had shaken up the Overton Park Shell, while "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" hit the top of the Memphis Country and Western charts (it had probably sold 20,000 copies nationally at this point). In October he made his debut on the Louisiana Hayride, the Saturday night broadcast on which Hank Williams had made his reputation, and the next month signed on as a regular, after quitting his job at Crown Electric. In November, too, he was named eighth-most- promising Country and Western vocalist by Billboard' magazine (behind Tommy Collins, Justin Tubb, and Jimmy ''C" Newman), and in December he was acknowledged as "the hottest piece of merchandise on the Louisiana Hayride... the youngster with the hillbilly blues beat" by the same magazine. Within a year he had left forever the schoolhouse gyms and hardwood floors, the shopping center openings and impromptu shows on the back of a flatbed truck, and signed with RCA Victor. By the time he was 21- years-old he had acquired the status of legend and would never again be able to venture out in the world.

All this is known and can be interpreted in various ways. What isn't known, and what can perhaps never by fully explained, is where the music came from and what caused it to hit the way if did. Nor is it simply that there never was a phenomenon quite like Elvis Presley either before or since. If this were all there was to the story, you could always point to Sinatra or the Beatles, say, as similar manifestations of cultural implosion. No, what is truly astonishing - what is unique - about Elvis Presley is that at 19 he knew instinctively not so much who he was as what he wanted to be and that, out of that desire, he was able to create a style which was original from start to finish.

That is what is so important about this record. It shows the creation of the style. It shows Elvis Presley and Sam Phillips groping for something it would have been impossible to name (simply because it didn't exist), struggling to discover a common language, and, together, creating a new form out of what anyone else might have discarded on the scrapheap of history. Even this might be deserving of only passing cultural note, were it not for the fact that the ten sides that Sun issued in the sixteen months that Elvis Presley was on the label are so perfectly realized that, had he never recorded again, they alone would be sufficient to sustain the legend of the birth of rock and roll. This is the most improbable story of all: in a tiny Memphis studio, in 1954 and 1955, Sam Phillips and Elvis Presley created rock and roll.

What do we actually hear on the Sun sides? Here is what Bob Johnson, the Memphis Press-Scimitar reporter who followed Elvis from the beginning of his career, wrote all the time. "That's All Right'' was in the rhythm and blues idiom of Negro field jazz, ''Blue Moon'' more in the country field, but there was a curious blending of the two different musics in both... (Sam Phillips) doesn't know how to catalogue Elvis exactly. He has a white voice, sings with a Negro rhythm which borrows in mood and emphasis horn country style. When I first read these words 32 years after they were written, in 1987, it was as if the theory of relativity had finally been proved by practical demonstration. Certainly this is the received wisdom about Elvis ("A white boy with black hips'', as the New York Times once said), bud as often as I and others had stated it, sometimes I wondered if we were not merely perpetuating some abstract theoretical construct on to which the participants themselves had unaccountably latched. It's only recently that I've had a chance (mainly through the Dutch

publisher and archivist, Ger Rijff, whose Long Lonely Highway and Faces and Stages: An Elvis Presley Time-Frame are essential reading and viewing) to scrutinize some of the contemporary accounts, and there is no longer any question in my mind that Elvis and Sam Phillips knew exactly what they were doing, if not why they were doing it. "The colored folks been singing it and playing it just like I'm doing now, man, for more years than I know'', declared Elvis in a 1956 interview. "They played it like that in the shanties and in their juke joints, and nobody paid it no mind till I goosed it up. I got it from them. Down in Tupelo, Mississippi, I used to hear old Arthur Crudup (the Mississippi bluesman who originated "That's All Right'') bang his box the way I do now, and I said if I ever got to the place I could feel all old Arthur felt, I'd be a music man like nobody ever saw''.

He may or may not have gotten to that place - but, of course, he did become a music man like nobody ever saw. With this record we see, insofar as you can ever see anything of the nature of creativity, how the process occurred.

The issued sides (the first ten cuts) have been written about so often that I'm not going to dwell on them here, They illustrate perfectly Sam Phillips' belief in purity, simplicity, and economy of musical expression. They also possess that indefinable spark that could not have been drown out, no matter what the production methods, if it had not simply arrived unbidden. For a clue to the more prosaic mysteries, though, listen to the outtakes and the five completed master takes (from "I Love You Because" to "Trying to Get to You") that RCA put out after Elvis came to the label. It's here that we see for the first time the extent to which spontaneity merely served as hand-maiden to a great deal of experimentation and hard work. It's here that we are finally able to glimpse not just the range of styles attempted but the range of possibilities. Musically, the song selection runs the gamut from the most sentimental of ballads ("I Love You Because" and the Hawaiian-inspired "Harbor Lights") to the most low-down of blues - but all have one element in common: a willingness to go out on a limb, a zest for taking risks, for venturing off into unknown territory, regardless of whether anyone has ever been there before.

Listen to "Blue Moon'', the Rodgers and Hart ballad which Billy Eckstine recorded in 1948 in a satin-and-silk version with which Elvis must have been familiar (Eckstine was one of his favorite singers). What is he doing to this song? What is that eerie falsetto wail? The first time I heard this cut on Elvis's debut album in 1956 when I was 12 years old, I was outraced! I must have taken it as a betrayal of rock and roll! Now I hear it somewhat differently: now it seems touching to me, a ghostly echo from the past, though whose past - Elvis' or mine - I'm not really sure. That isn't really the point, though. The point is that here in the course of a single song we witness the first rock and roll wedding; we see an improbable marriage of the most unlikely elements approaching consummation. Here is the crooner who admired Dean Martin and Eddie Fisher, the devout church-goer whose single greatest ambition was to sing with the gospel Songfellows, the Beale Street dreamer who listened to rhythm and blues bird groups and wanted more than anything to be able to sing like Clyde McPhatter, the apprentice bluesman who wanted to feel all that Arthur Crudup had felt. We hear the western clip clop of Scotty Moore's guitar. We hear all of these elements coming together, or not coming together as the case may be. We see Elvis Presley struggling blindly to create a new music by instinct and will. And we see Sam Phillips doing all that he can - technically and psychologically - to further that instinct, fulfilling his own mission to bring out of a person what was in him, to recognize that individual's unique quality and then to find the key to unlock it''.

"Tomorrow Night'', "I'll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin')'', the various takes of "I Love You Because" and "I Don't Care If the Sun Don't Shine" all offer the same blend of drama and tentative resolution. On the alternate takes of "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone'', a straightforward country tune written expressly for Elvis by Stan Kesler and Bill Taylor, the musicians explore a blues direction which seems unpromising at first, is then refined but finally discarded for the light breezy flavor of the issued take. "Don 't make it too damn complicated'', Sam remonstrated with Scotty after an unsuccessful take of "When It Rains, It Really Pours'', a blues which was never completed in the Sun studio and to which Elvis eventually returned nearly two years later. "That's All Right'', the song which has always been portrayed mainly as an inspired accident, appears here in a version very close to the issued take and yet undeniably lacking the magic. Simplify, Sam Phillips seems to keep on saying. "All right, boys, we just about on it now. Do it again. Do it one time for Sam''. And they did. The guitar solo got less complicated. The vocal communicated more of the essence of the song. The whole finally flowed. And at the end, just as he did when the band finally started hitting it on "Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', Sam Phillips might pronounce himself pleased. "That's fine," he says. 'Hell, that's different. That's a pop song now, nearly 'bout''. And it is.

You can see the sessions in your minds eye. Time didn't matter. Trends didn't matter. Mistakes didn't matter. "You just forgot about making a record and tried to show him'', Carl Perkins later recalled. "I'd walk out on a limb, I'd try things I knew I couldn't do, and then have to work my way out of it. I'd say, Mr. Phillips, that's terrible' He said, That's original. I said, But it's just a big original mistake'. And he said, That's what Sun Records is. That's what we are'''. There was simply no containing the enthusiasm, the ingenuousness, the sense of possibilities. You listen to the Elvis Sun sessions, and you sense the belief in those possibility, the firm conviction that if didn't matter a damn what the rest of creation thought as it went about its appointed rounds, that if didn't matter a damn if to the "music industry" Memphis was just another back water town out of which nothing, and no one of significance could ever come - there was simply no formula that could encapsulate Sam Phillips' vision or Elvis' omnivorous embrace of the world and all that was in it. That is what I think the records finally come down to: a young man hungry for success - no, hungry for everything - and just impatient to get on with it. A few years ago I happened to be watching the television documentary, "The Heroes of Rock And Roll'', with Sam Phillips, when Elvis came on the screen, looking impossibly young, impossibly expectant.

"Ah, wasn't he something? Let me fell you some - thing about him. Elvis - you looking at him now, back then - he looks so clumsy and so totally uncoordinated. And this was the beauty of it, he was being himself. Well, he had that little innocence about him, and yet he had, even then, he had a little something that was almost impudent in a way. That was his crutch. He certainly didn't mean to be impudent, but he had enough of that, along with what he could convey, that he was. just beautiful and lovely - and I'm not talking about physical beauty, because he was not that good-looking then. Really, by conventional standards he was supposed to have been thrown off that stage, and I - listen, I calculated that stuff in my mind. An they going to resent him? With his long sideburns? That could be a plus or a minus. But I looked at it as this. When he came through like he did, it was neither. He stood on his 'own''. 

- Peter Guralnick, April, 1987

All Recordings Produced and Engineered by Sam C. Phillips at the Memphis Recording Service, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee, July 1954-July 1955.

This compilation A&R Director - Gregg Geller
Marketing Director - Don Wardell
Audio Restoration by Rick Rowe.
Mastered by Jack Adelman
Cover liner notes by Peter Guralnick
Art Director - Ria Lewerke
Design - Piedro Alfieri
Hand Tinting Theresa Alfieri-Weinberg
Thanks to:
Sam Phillips, Knox Phillips, Ger Rijff, Colin Escott, Stan Kesler,
Stanley Booth, Marion Kaisker, and Scotty Moore


1987 S Records (LP) 33rpm SP 5001 mono

Import release. Finally, after years of waiting, the entire Million Dollar Quartet session was released on this two-record bootleg set. A picture disc of the set was also available. After this release, Charly Records of Great Britain had its package of the session on sale in many record stores throughout the United States.

> The One Million Dollar Quartet Sessions <

Side 1: Contains
1.1 - You Belong To Me
1.2 - When God Dips His Love In My Heart
1.3 - Just A Little Talk To Jesus
1.4 - That Lonesome Valley
1.5 - I Shall Not Be Moved
1.6 - Peace In The Valley
1.7 - Down By The Riverside
Original Sun Recordings

Side 2: Contains
2.1 - I'm With The Crowd
2.2 - Father Along
2.3 - Jesus Hold My Hand
2.4 - On The Jericho Road
2.5 - I Just Can't Make It By Myself
2.6 - Little Cabin On The Hill
2.7 - Summertime Has Passed And Gone
2.8 - I Hear A Sweet Voice Calling
2.9 - Sweetheart You Done Me Wrong
2.10 - Keeper Of The Key
2.11 - Crazy Arms
2.12 - Don't Forbid Me
2.13 - Brown-Eyed Handsome Man
2.14 - Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind
2.15 - Brown-Eyed Handsome Man
Original Sun Recordings

Side 3: Contains
3.1 - Don't Be Cruel
3.2 - Don't Be Cruel
3.3 - Paralyzed
3.4 - Don't Be Cruel
3.5 - There's No Place Like Home (Home, Sweet Home)
3.6 - When The Saints Go Marching In
3.7 - Softly And Tenderly
Original Sun Recordings

Side 4: Contains
4.1 - Is It So Strange
4.2 - That's When Your Heartaches Begin
4.3 - Brown-Eyed Handsome Man
4.4 - Rip It Up
4.5 - I'm Gonna Bid My Blues Goodbye
4.6 - Crazy Arms
4.7 - That's My Desire
4.8 - End Of The Road
4.9 - Jerry's Boogie
4.10 - You're The Only Star In My Blue Heaven
4.11 - Elvis Farewell
Original Sun Recordings


August 1990 RCA BMG (LP) 33rpm 2227-1-R mono

20-track LP with orange RCA label, including the previously unreleased ''My Happiness'', the legendary first recording ever made by Elvis Presley at Sun Studios in July 1953.

Side 1: Contains
1.1 - My Happiness (Unissued Sun Recording)
1.2 - That's All Right
1.3 - Shake, Rattle And Roll
1.4 - Flip, Flop And Fly
1.5 - Heartbreak Hotel
1.6 - Blue Suede Shoes
1.7 - Ready Teddy
1.8 - Don't Be Cruel
1.9 - Teddy Bear
1.10 - Got A Lot O' Livin' To Do
1.11 - Jailhouse Rock
1.12 - Treat Me Nice (Stereo Version)

Side 2: Contains
2.1 - King Creole
2.2 - Trouble
2.3 - Fame And Fortune
2.4 - Return To Sender
2.5 - Always On My Mind
2.6 - American Trilogy
2.7 - If I Can Dream
2.8 - Unchained Melody
2.9 - Memories
1.1 Original Sun Recording
1.2-1.12 / 2.1-2.9 Original RCA Recordings


June 2, 2004 RCA BMG (LP) 33rpm 82876 61205 1 mono

''Elvis At Sun'' is a stripped down version of the deluxe package ''Sunrise'' which was a remastered re-release of ''The Complete Sun Sessions'' which was a re-relase of the 70′s compilation ''The Sun Sessions''. ''Elvis At Sun'' boasts an impressive tracklist. All of Elvis Presley’s Sun Masters are present. It includes the usual out-takes ''Harbor Lights'', ''Tommorow Night'' and ''When It Rains It Really Pours''. And the slow version of ''I’m Left, Your Right, She’s Gone''. Over the years these tracks have become part of any complete Sun package. The vinyl itself seems to be nice quality and the useage of the Sun label on the record adds a nice touch. The Sun Masters not released during Presley’s tenure sound okay. They seem to have gone through many stages of mixing and mastering over the years, the sound varies greatly from record to record. The tracks originally issued as Sun singles, suffer from bad sound quality on this pressing. The high end is completely gone, and there is no echo or crispness. In a way, the record sounds like a sort of counterfit bootleg. On the back cover liner notes by Knox Phillips, the older son of Sun Records owner, Sam Phillips.

Side 1: Contains
1.1 - Harbor Lights
1.2 - I Love You Because
1.3 - That's All Right
1.4 - Blue Moon Of Kentucky
1.5 - Blue Moon
1.6 - Tomorrow Night
1.7 - I'll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin')
1.8 - Just Because
1.9 - Good Rockin' Tonight
1.10 - I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine
Original Sun Recordings

Side 2: Contains
2.1 - Milkcow Blues Boogie
2.2 - You're A Heartbreaker
2.3 - I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone (Slow Version)
2.4 - I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone
2.5 - Baby, Let's Play House
2.6 - I Forgot To Remember To Forget
2.7 - Mystery Train
2.8 - Trying To Get To You
2.9 - When It Rains, It Really Pours
Original Sun Recordings


Elvis At Sun - An Overview of the Audio Restoration
by Piers Beagley, June 30, 2004 ©

With all the well known and some less well known problems of lost master tapes and poor digital mastering it is a relief to find that the result of the 'Elvis at Sun' project is much better and more uniform than really ought to be possible to achieve. This is due to mostly lucky circumstances regarding what actually has been found in recent years, combined with some recent, unusually well calibrated tape transfers by Sony and perhaps most important of all, the huge manual restoration effort carried out by Kevan Budd. For those who care, even the relative amplitude in terms of RMS power distribution has been carefully measured and set by hand for consistency and for a uniform impression of vocal amplitude regardless of source. This is very much the opposite direction of normal mastering of vintage music of today, which seems to be focused on pushing up the level as much as possible over the 0 dB limit. 

Harbor Lights
I Love You Because,
That's All Right
Blue Moon of Kentucky 

Being an early take of an abandoned recording, possibly from the first session on July 5, 1954, the opening track Harbor Lights is the weakest performance of Elvis' Sun recordings. Unexpectedly it also stands out as being one of the few recordings where the actual Sun master tape has been recovered. The most audible difference is that the out-of-place 1976 'Legendary Performer' echo is gone. The new straight transfer actually reveals Sam Phillips' own, more subtle use of locally miked tape echo. In this case, a delayed signal from Scotty's guitar is mixed with the live signal coming from all microphones. This leaves the vocal almost dry, but with a touch of leakage into Scotty's microphone. The result is a very full sound overall and a very natural sound of the vocals. 

The above is best illustrated by comparison to the second track, thought to be from the same session but recorded dry using just one tape machine. Recording of country ballad I Love You Because was abandoned after 5 "takes". RCA spliced "takes" 3 and 5 for their LP master in 1956, but the first complete attempt, "take" 2 is the only consistent full take without major errors and therefore appropriate to include on a genuine Sun collection like this. Here we get a very recent Sony transfer of the original Sun tape. The main characteristics seem to be in the 1-track head of the tape recorder picking up signal from the entire width of the tape. This also results in a high signal/noise ratio and may almost be interpreted as truncation of noise, since random noise is likely to vary along the width of the tape. Apart from that, neutral amplifiers and careful NAB tape curve calibration seems to characterize the Sony transfers. The technique is thus optimised for flat transfers of original album masters or anything else that was mastered for release in the first place. I Love You Because is a dry, flat recording and as much as the Sony transfer of theoretically is as good as it gets, some might find it sound a little hard compared to the full sound of Harbor Lights that actually was transferred by BMG. 

Sadly, the Sun master tape of That's All Right is lost forever. It was used to produce the original single in July 1954 and then once more in November 1955 when RCA transferred it. Since I Love You Because and That's All right were recorded on a rehearsal or session that had failed so far, there either was no time for Sam to setup or rewind the slapback tape before recording to produce the characteristic Sun echo. (Only the latter would support Harbor Lights actually being the first recording) 

The original R&B side of Sun 209 was dry, just as the outtake that survived on the same session reel as I Love You Because. To prepare it for re-release RCA added compression and an entirely different type of echo when Sun Box #2 was played back for the last time in November 1955. Nevertheless, the RCA tape copy that still exists, is by far the best remaining source in terms of signal. The only other option would have been to transfer an inferior source, a 50-year-old Sun 45 or 78 RPM. Something that couldn't be justified on a major release aimed at the general market now that a tape source does exist. Thankfully, That's All Right is the only alien on 'Elvis at Sun' and as such it is considered a slight improvement over what has been released before. 

The C&W side of Sun 209, Blue Moon of Kentucky is one of the recordings where no master tape was turned over to RCA in the first place. A November 1955 RCA tape transfer of a Sun 78 RPM has been used up until now. Now, Blue Moon of Kentucky is one of the worst recorded/mastered Sun masters with compression and overdone echo, but it isn't nearly as bad as the RCA tape implied. RCA compressed it further (to death actually) in November 1955. A manually cleaned up, new transfer from a selection of original Sun 78 RPM's has rectified the situation on 'Elvis at Sun' and the improvement should be obvious. 

Blue Moon
Tomorrow Night
I'll Never Let You Go 

Next up is a group of three recordings that perhaps were considered rejected masters or potential album tracks by Sam Phillips. They ought to have been recorded at the same session some day between August 19 and early-to-mid September 1954 because they share the same ambience and warm, original tube sound, all carefully miked for the reverb chain in a way that can not been identified on other Sun recordings. 

As could be heard on the outtake as released on 'Sunrise' back in 1999, the original Sun Blue Moon tape appears to be very worn. It was recorded at lower level as well and this does result in a lot of tape hiss that has been left intact on 'Elvis at Sun' in order to preserve the signal and ambience. On the other hand, the dropouts have been repaired. The result is a big improvement over the 'Sunrise' outtake and of course an even bigger improvement over the previous BMG master. 

The 50's Box digital masters of the nice 1956 RCA tape copies of Tomorrow Night and I'll Never Let You Go have been replaced by flat Sony transfers on 'Elvis at Sun'- well suited here since these masters were finalized by Sam Phillips in the first place. This new transfer lacked a little high end and this was only compensated for by as much as the source could handle. 

Just Because
Good Rockin' Tonight
I Don't Care if the Sun Don't Shine 

A completely different sound was recorded on the September 1954 session that produced the second Sun single Good Rockin' Tonight (R&B side), I Don't Care if the Sun Don't Shine (C&W side) and the rejected master Just Because, to be used for the first RCA LP in 1956. The early generation master tape of I Don't Care if the Sun Don't Shine has finally been identified as a recovered master this time of course and the glitch is repaired as good as could be done. A pitch analysis implies that the recovered tape runs a little too slow on 'Sunrise', according to Scotty Moore's highly accurate guitar tuning during the Sun days. This observation is in accordance with the pitch of original Sun single, but yet Elvis' vocals may sound slightly too fast. On 'Elvis at Sun' the pitch has been set to that of the original Sun single and the tuning of Scotty's guitar since most threads point in that direction. 

On 'Elvis at Sun' Good Rockin' Tonight is from a new Sony transfer from the recently found RCA 30 ips tape. Just Because is a Sony transfer as well, but from the only, badly filtered, 1956 RCA copy that exists, apart from the album master of LPM 1254. Regardless of the now existing, best sources of each of these songs, traces of the same original tape curve problems are evident on all the three uptempo September 1954 recordings. They were recorded with way too much signal in the high end, especially in the 16 kHz region and with too little signal in the lower, so important 100-200 Hz region. Possibly a noise reduction curve on top of the NAB curve, or simply poor calibration, but it should be pointed out that this 16 kHz peak can be identified on some other Sun artists recordings between late 1954 and early 1955. 

RCA must have detected this but missed the target a little and filtered more in the 14-15 KHz region instead on Good Rockin' Tonight, which is close actually and not a problem today. On Just Because, RCA filtered out just about everything in the 9-10 kHz region, where there were no problems at all, leaving a black hole sacrificing much of the damped acoustic guitar that was recorded via the reverb tape machine. On 'Elvis at Sun' all three songs have been calibrated with 16 kHz reduction and just a slight lift of the 100-200 Hz to compensate a little for what is considered to have been lost in the first place due to the wrong tape curve calibration. The black hole on Just Because has been carefully raised, but not all the way of course, while the 14-15 kHz reduction on Good Rockin' Tonight was found best left untouched after several blind A-B tests. 

Milkcow Blues Boogie
You're a Heartbreaker,
I'm Left You're Right She's Gone (Slow)
I'm Left You're Right She's Gone (Master) 

The recording sessions that produced the third Sun single Milkcow Blues Boogie (R&B side) and You're a Heartbreaker (C&W side) are likely to also have resulted in the final master of I'm Left You're Right She's Gone (C&W side of fourth single) as well as the slow, rejected bluesy version of the same song. 

The master tapes for Milkcow Blues Boogie and You're a Heartbreaker were never turned over to RCA, possibly because they had been recorded over by mistake. RCA made dubs of a Mint 78 RPM copy that were used to produce replacement masters for a late 1955 single re-release and for future use by RCA. Both were processed during this process and many artifacts from the shellac source have remained. All restoration efforts for later CD releases have been extremely poor and actually mainly had the opposite effect with introduction of extra distortion and elimination of ambiance. It is therefore a relief that it has been possible to replace both masters of the third single with fresh transfers from a huge selection of other 78 RPM's. If anybody thought that restoring old sources like this is equivalent to sitting in a nice air-conditioned office being served grapes and dinners while pressing buttons of a lot of luxury software to automate the process, think again. The result from a tedious, manual job on Milkcow Blues Boogie is stunning and simply has to be heard to be believed. 

The pitch is not that easy to solve, with guitar tuning in contradiction with original 78 RPM pitch and the 60 cycle hum distribution over time (such low frequencies needs ridiculously high FFT values to even measure with decent accuracy). It is presented at original speed, which if correct, could be the only Sun recording where Scotty's guitar wasn't carefully tuned. Going by guitar tuning only, the pitch would have had to be set slightly slower. 

You're a Heartbreaker is a big improvement as well, but not quite as good as Milkcow Blues Boogie. The reason for this is that few copies were pressed, as it was the least successful Sun single and that the You're a Heartbreaker side appears to have been played a lot more than the R&B side by the few people who bought a copy. If an Unplayed/Mint copy of this side could be located, You're a Heartbreaker could have been presented with slightly less surface noise. 

The rejected, slow I'm Left You're Right, My Baby's Gone is of course improved here as well with dropout repairs and absence of the digital BMG mastering with filtering and added echo that has haunted us until now. The other outtake that was released on 'Sunrise' merely suffered from dropouts and poor eq resulting in a 'hard' sound. 

I'm Left You're Right, She's Gone, the C&W side of the fourth single that wasn't released until 5 months after being recorded has never sounded anywhere near this good before. The main source was a Sony transfer of the recently found 30 ips RCA master tape that is at least one generation down, but not subjected to any bad processing at all. Since the song on the best tape isn't complete (last song on compilation tape), it was necessary to combine more than one source to produce the best result throughout. The now restored and beautifully matched original uncut ending is a thrill to hear - a personal favorite on 'Elvis at Sun' considering the final, uniform result from combined sources. 

Baby Let's Play House 

The February 1955 session that produced the R&B side of the fourth Sun single, Baby Let's Play House comes from the same Sony transfer of the recently recovered RCA 30 ips master compilation tape and there certainly were a few problems with this recording in the first place. The overall high-end had been reduced in three steps soon after the start of the song. This is something that can be traced back to the original Sun single, but is not as evident behind Bill Putnam's high end dynamic processing of the original single. It was possible to compensate a little, but perhaps not all the way within the strict, but necessary rules set out for 'Elvis at Sun'. 

I Forgot to Remember to Forget
Mystery Train
Trying to Get to You 

There exists a fantastic original 15 ips Sun tape copy for the masters of the fifth and last Sun single I Forgot to Remember to Forget (C&W side) and Mystery Train (R&B side). This tape was handed over by Sam in January 1956 and is therefore referred to as the 16th Sun Tape Box. The tape was first used for the 50's Box, but has now been retransferred flat by Sony with even better results in spite of the flat, original, unprocessed sound. This is partly due to better NAB calibration. 

The new transfer of I Forgot to Remember has already found its way to two recent releases. First the 2003 upgrade of 'Great Country Songs' and later the same year it was used for 'Second to None'. The introduction of noise-shaping when converting back to 1-bit DSD native after first converting to 8-bit PCM-narrow in the Sonoma environment to allow equalization isn't very impressive on either one of them, especially considering the result was aimed at 16 bit PCM only. However, the slight above 10 kHz raise done by Sony for these two releases isn't considered out of place at all - it's right on target actually. It's just the method that seems a little complicated. The distorted clipping of vocal peaks on 'Second to None' is simply devastating since this source has so much dynamic range. The 'Great Country Songs' version was clipped as well, but not nearly as much. The 'Elvis at Sun' version of I Forgot to Remember is a slight improvement with total absence of clipping being the only major audible difference compared to 'Great Country Songs'. 

The equally great new Sony transfer of the unprocessed, dynamic Mystery Train makes its debut here on 'Elvis at Sun'. The original, full-ending-to-the last-note version derived from lost Sun Tape Box #1 (that was reported to us by Sven Adamski in 1999) has been recovered from the best available source (tape copy with compression and severe generation loss) and matched with precision during the fade-out, using all the tricks in the book and for once stretching all the 'Elvis at Sun' restoration rules. The result of this impossible task is stunning considering the circumstances. 

According to Sam Phillips Trying to Get to You would have been the R&B side of Elvis' sixth Sun single. Unfortunately the surviving RCA copies suffer from more compression than usual and not even this Sony transfer of the recovered RCA 30 ips tape can do anything about that. It is a shame how the compression takes over during the loud vocal parts, but apart from that the new source and version isn't all that bad, at least not compared to what has been released before. 

When It Rains, It Really Pours 

We've had it for years without being able to tell! Exceptionally poor compression has hidden the fact that When It Rains, It Really Pours actually is from the dry reverb tape source. On this recording only Elvis' vocals and acoustic guitar were miked and sent to the mounted tape machine to produce the typical Sun echo on the other tape. The electric guitar didn't have to take this path in late 1955 and the echo of Scotty's Echosonic, purchased on May 24, 1955, can be heard leaking into the dry reverb channel, as can Johnny Bernero's drums and Bill Black's bass. They certainly were miked through and recorded directly on the primary console machine, mixed with the delayed signal of what we have here. It is a revelation to hear it as it is. Since it is the last recording its inclusion does not distract the overall impression at all. The unfinished dry reverb tape recording of When It Rains, It Really Pours can be considered a bonus track more than anything else. 

If Sam Phillips were alive he might have called this a chronological collection of 11 Masters, 5 rejected master takes or potential album fillers, 2 abandoned recordings and 1 unfinished recording. To the rest of us this is an important piece of 20th Century history. 

Sun Tape Echo 

"By 1954 Sam Phillips had upgraded his equipment and installed two Ampex 350 recorders: one a console model and another mounted behind his head for the tape delay echo, or slapback". The slapback/echo tape machine (#1, the mounted model) would typically record a dry signal from a local mike. The tape with the local signal, recorded less than a second ago, then reaches the playback head of the same machine. (Length of delay is governed by the tape speed of the echo machine.) The played back dry, local signal then goes into the console where it is mixed with signals picked up by all the microphones in real time, including the one also recorded on the reverb tape machine. The console tape machine finally records the mixed signal on its only track. 

At least one example exists where the tape played the through loop survived as well as the mixed result recorded on the other machine. This example is for an outtake of Get Rhythm (Johnny Cash & The Tennessee Two), combining a Bear Family source erroneously labelled "mike test" (actually #1: the reverb tape) with a Charly Box source (#2: the mixed result of the same take). 

Johnny Cash could apply enough pressure on the strings with his left hand to damp the tones of his acoustic guitar (not necessarily done with paper/dollar bills attached to the strings as the story goes - video proof from 1957 exists). Mixed with bass slaps, delay, compression etc., it sounds like a train moving. In this example the vocals would be delayed as well: 

1 = Dry as found on Bear-Family Box, vocals + acoustic guitar (other instruments bleeding slightly)
2 = Quickly added compression+delay to the dry track-just as an example-not the right proportions
3 = The result as found on a Charly Box
4 = (Left=3, Right=2) 

Assume a distance between the recording and playback head of 4 inches and echo tape speeds of
7.5 ips: Delay = 4/7.5 = 0.53 seconds (most likely the most common echo tape speed).
15 ips: Delay = 4/15 = 0.27 seconds (When It Rains It Really Pours).
(Update July 2004: 7.5 ips as the common speed of the echo tape machine has been confirmed by Roland Janes of Sam Phillips studio - thanks!) 

So the distance between heads would correspond to the longer path if the wet signal is delayed with about half a second (7.5 ips). 

Speed of sound at 25 centigrades (77 F): 347 m/s. It would take a distance of 180 metres to get the same delay (as 7.5 ips) that way. This means that it would be difficult to measure if a signal was recorded twice from both amplifier and microphones in a studio, but on the other hand the delay ought to be too small to be worth that extra procedure. One can but wonder if RCA thought of this in January 1956 when Heartbreak Hotel was recorded - perhaps they found out the hard way when they had to use the stairwell eventually. 

In the case of the Johnny Cash example, the delay applied to the microphone picking up Johnny's voice and guitar only. Although this was the most typical setup with the Cash recordings, the Elvis Presley recordings sometimes used delay of other microphones. Probably forgotten by now, That's All Right was actually recorded and released entirely dry using just one tape machine. In late 1955 RCA added echo to it during transfer of originally received Sun Tape Box #2. Unfortunately Box #2 was one of the tapes destroyed in Indianapolis after 1957 so no tape source of the original, dry That's All Right is thought to exist anymore. However, the released outtakes from Tape Box #13 as well as the original 78/45 of Sun 209 reveal the original, dry sound. We can guess that there wasn't time to set up the two machines and this adds credit to the story about the July 5 session being planned as just a rehearsal. On one of the following days, Blue Moon of Kentucky seems to have been recorded with full reverb, but it's hard to tell since it appears to have been processed afterwards as well. Perhaps further echo was added by Bill Putnam during mastering. 

Mystery Train Mystery 

The complete song, including the last guitar note played, before the fade-out is over, was found on a cheap European CD release, 'Elvis Presley - The Legendary', The Entertainers CD 254 (reported by Sven Adamski). Several variations exist (1987-1990, France Italy etc.)
Before that it was used on the UK LP's "Rock 'n' Roll", RCA 1972 and HMV 1956 (reported by Kevan Budd). Recently it was traced back to US and the 1955 RCA 78 RPM release (reported by Ernest Boyes) and now it becomes interesting. 

Summary of versions:
1. Unprocessed master with very good dynamic range (50's Box, earliest fade).
2. The processed Sun 45/78 master (Sun 45/78 & When All Was Kool, ends suddenly during fade)
3. The processed RCA version (1955 single, complete with last note before fade is over) 

In late 1955 it appears RCA hadn't received "Sun Box #16" and it has been confirmed that this is the tape pictured in Sunrise ("Bill: Give me 'hot' level..."). If this is the case, then it can be assumed that RCA had to use Sun Box #1 in 1955 and that Box #1 had a version with the complete ending. This might also explain why the long version was sent to HMV, with UK being one of the first export markets (somebody ought to check Canadian and German releases for the same reason). 

RCA did some processing of their own on the "long version". By comparing the dynamic range of the long RCA version to the original Sun version it may appear as if that the original Sun compression was on the 1955 RCA version as well. Drop of vocal amplitude due to compression appears to occur at the same points and of the same amount (L/R comparisons). Still, RCA probably was able to produce the same amount of compression - or my method of comparing may not be valid enough. 

The task of "Bill" (Bill Putnam) was to produce acetate masters, probably not a tape. Yet, a source that corresponds to a "Bill tape" is available on 'When All Was Kool'. This version is the processed Sun master with the cut ending, likely to have been derived from Box #16. 

Possible scenario: 

- Box #1 ought to have been the original session tape (with ending intact)
- Box #16 could be a copy of the unprocessed master with dynamics, ending possibly cut due to so early fade.
- Unknown tape: The processed Sun master with ending cut - this shouldn't exist, but it does. Bill might have made a tape and sent to Sam that we don't know about. 

This scenario will change as we learn more. Some things still don't make sense, such as, why RCA would choose to use Box#16 for their own master copies in 1956 if this had the ending cut, was just as dry as and a generation down compared to Box#1? In reality things don't always make sense on the other hand. 

Voor de CD 

Elvis At Sun. The birth of Rock n' Roll was 50 years ago this week. Who could have possibly expected such a revolutionary milestone from an unknown trio, while they fooled around on a few musical standards that day in Sam Phillip's Sun Studios. 

The importance of this event needs no re-examination but luckily for us two true Elvis aficionados, Ernst Jorgensen & Kevan Budd, have decided to help us celebrate this historic event with a new release of Elvis' Sun Masters. 

The tracklist is, of course, the same as the first disc of 1999's Elvis 'Sunrise' release but this time presented in their correct chronological & historic order. More importantly, the audio of every single track has been remastered to perfection making the songs glow in this new setting. The first CD features the original LP. All previous Sun compilations varied in quality from the distortion of a Sun 78 rpm used as a Master, to false added RCA echo, and even early fade outs. In fact, in the past I found the best way to enjoy Elvis' Sun material was to actually play the individual vinyl 45 rpm rather than a whole LP or CD. 

However here, at last, every track has been restored to its true original beauty and this CD is a revelation. The booklet's design is a treat, presenting some rare photos along with a real 'Sun' feel & look to it. Sam's son, Knox Phillips, also reveals some delightful & new details about the sessions and his father's work with Elvis: 

"Elvis & Sam believed in an America that prized individual differences and freedom, and I know they believed in their soul that music could lead us there." 

Ernst's interesting cover notes also help explain the chaos & budget restraints that Sun operated under and makes one realise how exceptionally lucky we are to have this new release. There also is a cute explanation from Sam Phillips on why he let Elvis record so many ballads that he really had no interest in releasing.., "I didn't have the heart to stop him"! 

The keys to this new audio feast include: 

The discovery of a new RCA Sun compile tape.
The use of Sony New York for the tape transfers (they produced the astounding sound of the 'Close Up' box set).
The editing of multiple copies of mint 78 rpm discs to create the best sounding tracks for the songs without any Master tapes. 

Harbour Lights' that kicks off the CD (Elvis' earliest abandoned Master) is the first audio revelation. Immediately you notice that the previously added false echo is missing. The fragility of Elvis' vocal along with the genuine ambience of that small Sun Studio, and the newly revealed sound of Bill Black's double-bass, is astounding. 

'I Love You Because' is Elvis full-length first take, with the fascinating spoken monologue, and again with a lovely new feel & no hiss as on previous releases. Just check out how young & innocent Elvis sounds and how extraordinary it was that he recorded a spoken part on his very first night of recording. It was an idea that he would often repeat throughout the rest of his career. 

After setting the scene with the fragility of the ballads 'That's All Right' - the "Birth Of Rock 'n' Roll" - is pure unadulterated excitement and joy. Read the liner notes, play the earlier ballads again. . . look at the studio pictures .. think about the moment! Crank up the Hi-Fi - listen to the glory of this unknown three-piece band, check out the amazing percussive snap of Bill Black's bass - and feel the spirit of this golden moment in time! 

You can imagine the excitement of Sam Phillip's discovery and then realise the complication of "what the hell do you put on the single's flip-side"? 

And here, 'Blue Moon of Kentucky' has never sounded better. While I feel that we were somewhat spoilt with the recent '2nd To None' remasters, within this context all these Sun songs and their importance to the future of Rock 'n' Roll & popular culture can truly be understood. 

While all the tracks have been improved - I love the new fullness of the sound on 'Blue Moon' & 'Tomorrow Night' and 'I'll Never Let You Go' there are several songs that almost sound like brand new recordings! 

'I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine' is a fabulous example where the awful distortion on Elvis' voice, on all previous releases, is suddenly fixed and there is the new discovery of a percussive beat (from Elvis' guitar & Bill Blacks' bass slap) that was totally hidden before. Its clarity & shine is astounding. 

Even the new sound of 'Milkcow Blues Boogie' & 'You're A Heartbreaker', that I know have still been remastered from old 78 rpms singles, is breathtaking. With RCA's previous audio compression & distortion of the original transfers removed, these songs are another revelation. Kevan Budd, the audio restorer, cannot be praised enough for his work on these. 

Similarly the removal of RCA's false echo on 'I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone' makes both versions glow anew. This is the earliest Elvis track to feature drums (Jimmie Lott) and with these new versions coming from the newly discovered RCA tape the clarity of the sound, especially the percussion, is beautiful.
In fact if you compare any of these songs to their previous releases you realise just how much care has been taken by Sony with their transfers of these true mono Masters. Even the fairly recent 'Sunrise' CD versions had awful tape dropouts & weird left/right channel wavering throughout. 

The new sound also helps capture that excitement of early rockin' Elvis and 'Baby Let's Play House' & 'Good Rockin' Tonight' really stand out as exceptionally creative 'R&B' singles with that special edge that would lead him to the intensity of 'Hound Dog' just 17 months later. Two other exceptional discoveries also come at the end of the CD. 

'Mystery Train' rocks out with an astounding depth like never before. This is truly how this masterpiece deserves to be heard. Elvis' voice has never sounded so rich, nor so pleading. Whereas before the song was clipped at the end, best of all we now get every final glorious moment as that train rolls into the distance. Elvis' final spontaneous laugh & whoop of excitement is worth its weight in gold. Sam Phillips' favourite Elvis number, this is a true delight that you just have to play again & again. And turn it up! 

While 'Trying to Get To You' has the potential excitement of knowing that Sam was hoping for this as Elvis' sixth Sun 'A' side, I found real delight in the final 'bonus' track - which was after all just a basic rehearsal!

'When It Rains, It Really Pours', has always been a muffled & echoey mess at best, with the recording actually lifted off Sam's reverb tape. Here, at last, we have a lovely clear version that again sounds like another newly discovered tape! There's a fascination to this song that would lead Elvis back to re-recording it 2 years later. It's the perfect ending to an astounding period of Rock 'n' Roll history which leads one neatly back to listening all over again to this CD of 16 months of musical magic. 

Verdict - Elvis at Sun Studios has never sounded better and, even if you have previously bought any CD of Elvis' Sun recordings, you must, MUST celebrate this year's special 50th Anniversary by getting yourself a copy of this exceptional labour of love. Thanks to Ernst & Kevan Budd for this exceptional upgrade. 

Reviewed by Piers Beagley, © 2004

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