Just in time for what would have been Elvis Presley's 72nd birthday (January 8) comes the new book, Memphis Recording Service: The Rise Of Elvis Presley Volume 2 1955, an outstanding follow-up to the first volume of this lovingly compiled project. The lavish project includes a hefty 350-page book, a Dolby Digital/Audio DVD and a nifty reproduction of the Sun Records "Mystery Train" vinyl single processed from the original master mother stamper. For this reviewer, the highlight is the massive book. Written by Joseph Pirzada and John Michael Heath, the book concentrates on the pivotal year of 1955 when a young "atomic powered singer" from Memphis, Tennessee was coiled to ignite a Rock and Roll revolution. Along with the informative text, which provides heretofore unknown details on Presley?s career circa 1955, the book is crammed with hundreds of rare photos. The candid shots of Presley on and off stage include some wonderful images of Elvis, guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black performing on a flat-bed truck, pictures of the star meeting fans and breaking a few hearts of enraptured females, rare publicity stills, and a few knockout color shots including a stunning photograph of Presley, Moore and Black taken at The Louisiana Hayride in January 1955. The authors left no stone unturned in their quest to unearth rare Presley material as the book is a visual feast showcasing news clippings, concert ads, posters and reviews, RCA Records, Hill & Range and Louisiana Hayride contracts, correspondence from Colonel Tom Parker, telegrams, set lists, tickets, earning statements, receipts, an arrest report, detailed tour dates, fan diary entries and much more. Absorbing the text and accompanying visuals, one is particularly impressed by how hard Presley, Moore and Black worked in 1955 in their quest for superstardom, setting the stage for his commercial breakthrough the following year.
The Dolby Digital Audio DVD offers its share of restored sonic pleasures culling a generous 40 cuts, many never before available in their entirety until now. Numbering seminal Sun Records sides, "Baby Let?s Play House," "Mystery Train," "I?m Left, You?re Right, She?s Gone", sessions for "When It Rains, It Really Pours" and "How Do You Think I Feel," among others. There?s also a smattering of live cuts recorded at Louisiana Hayride and Eagle?s Hall (Houston, Texas), acetates from a live radio performance on KDVA Radio?s "Cotton Club" ("Fool, Fool, Fool" and "Shake , Rattle & Roll) plus three interviews including one where the future King of Rock & Roll is queried by Mae Boren Axton, the future co-writer of Elvis?s breakout blockbuster, "Heartbreak Hotel." As an added bonus, the DVD Audio disc also includes Elvis?s demonstration records for "I?ll Never Stand In Your Way" and "It Wouldn?t Be The Same Without You," audition recordings "Harbour Lights" and "I Love You Because" and various Sun sides.
Also noteworthy for die-hard collectors is the previously unseen footage of Elvis taped on May 25, 1955 at The Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Celebration in Meridian, Mississippi. Albeit brief in length, this historic footage is the earliest known existing footage of Presley, predating the Magnolia Gardens home movie footage included on the new Elvis Presley-Ed Sullivan Show three-DVD set.
A treasure trove of Presley ephemera, Memphis Recording Service: The Rise Of Elvis Presley Volume 2 1955 offers a fascinating peek at the meteoric rise of the Sun Records star. Highly recommended. Ordering info: www.memphisrecordingservice.com
Without a song,the day would never end.
Without a song,a man ain t got a friend.
Without a song,the road would never bend,
so I keep singing a song. Elvis Presley