Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Sun Sessions (1954-1955)

"That's All Right" The most important album of Elvis Presley's career, not to mention arguably in rock 'n' roll history, is actually a pastiche of Sun singles and outtakes first put together in the mid-'70s. Since then, various takes have gone in and come out, the cover has changed once or twice or more, and it's been remastered nearly as often, following the whims of the times. But oh who cares? In the end, all definitions fade and are inadequate to the material here. Recorded before Elvis was even 21, backed by a couple of talented good ol' boys on guitar and bass, drawing on resources imported direct from the primal human experience, I can't imagine what these songs must have sounded like to the people who made regional hits of them in the mid-'50s U.S. South. It's fresh, it's catchy, sure, all of that, but it's always tempting to reiterate the claims about it that have become cliches: "big bang of rock 'n' roll," etc. But listen, these three guys and particularly the singer (with Sun's Sam Phillips at the board) go about their business with astonishing efficiency, neatly stitching together fragments of country and blues in a way no one quite had before, and somehow they changed everything.

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