Elvis box relives 1956 : Review : Young Man With The Big Beat

By: Bruce Sylvester
Source: Goldmine Magazine
September 11, 2011

1956 marked turning points for young Elvis Presley. On January 10 - two days after he turned 21 - he left his Memphis home for Nashville for his initial RCA Victor recording session (Victor having purchased his contract from the legendary Sun Records), laying down his first pop hit, chart-topper 'Heartbreak Hotel'.

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In '56, he became a teen heartthrob across America but, to his dismay, was denounced from pulpits and in the media for his unleashed music and gyrating stage movements.

By year-end, he'd starred in his first film, Love Me Tender, singing its theme and three other songs.

Due for release September 27, Young Man With The Big Beat – a five-CD extravaganza with book, '56 Elvis timeline, full-size poster replicas and other hoopla – presents his every studio release (including two LPs' tracks) from the year on two discs. A third CD contains three concerts; a fourth, studio outtakes; and the fifth, interviews. (A 2 CD box, Elvis Presley Legacy Edition of the studio recordings will also be available.)

As the year began, songwriters weren't yet tailoring their tunes for him, and he was largely relying on covers. Comparing earlier acts' versions of his '56 songs we see what an innovator he was. He turned Eddy Arnold's 1952 waltz 'When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again' into pure rockabilly. 'Love Me' (on the 45 EP and 33 LP Elvis) has the rare distinction of making the pop top 10 without being released on a single. An early Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller composition, it had previously been done as a shuffle by Willie & Ruth (in R&B), Jimmie Rodgers Snow (in country) and Georgia Gibbs (in pop), though nobody's version dented the charts. Elvis' tastes were so eclectic that there's no telling whose rendition he'd heard (maybe even all of them), but he slowed it to a dirge and melodramatically milked its lines for every drop of emotion like no one before him. People might assume that he'd gotten 'Hound Dog' (another early Leiber/Stoller venture) from Big Mama Thornton, but the box's time line says that he picked it up from Freddie Bell when they played Vegas simultaneously.

The second studio disc closes with Love Me Tender's title track (an adaptation of the folk song 'Aura Lee'), 'Poor Boy', 'Let Me' and 'We're Gonna Move.' Elvis and Vera Matson (wife of the film's music director, Ken Darby) are credited with writing all four. But according to recently published Ain't No Grave: The Life And Legacy Of Brother Claude Ely by Ely's great nephew Macel Ely II, 'Move' simply secularized Pentecostal preacher/singer Claude Ely's roaring hymn 'There's A Leak In This Old Building'.

Elvis' record library included Ely's platters. And back in Mississippi, Gladys Presley had taken her young son to guitar-slinging Ely's emotion-drenched services with their gyrating worshipers. Macel Ely states that Elvis' stage movements were part of the Holiness church he grew up in, though amid this box set's interviews Presley says he didn't learn them from anyone but rather created them on his own.

The live disc's three shows come from a Louisiana youth center, an Arkansas auditorium and Vegas – talk about reflecting a career in transition. All their songs are on studio recordings and the audio isn't always the greatest, but we get to hear Elvis' playful side. As his mid-‘50s girlfriend Wanda Jackson once said, aside from his career, 'In those days at least, Elvis hardly had a serious bone in his body, at least outwardly'. Take the line 'Who learned a lesson when she broke my heart?' from 'I Was The One' (the flip to 'Heartbreak Hotel' – or 'Heartburn Motel' as Elvis refers to it). In various live versions, the object of his affection variously breaks his leg and his neck. Talking between songs in Vegas, he sounds genuinely honored that Ray Bolger and Phil Silvers have come to see him and takes a discreet pot shot at Roy Acuff, who hadn't exactly been encouraging when young Elvis did his life's only appearance on Grand Ole Opry.

The outtakes disc's 17 tracks include 12 'Lawdy Miss Clawdy' takes and 12 of 'Shake, Rattle And Roll', with pianist Shorty Long noodling with 'Yellow Rose Of Texas', 'Shave And A Haircut' and whatever else before 'Clawdy' takes. We hear a brief discussion of the optimal drum riff.

Given how few interviews he did throughout his career and his not having been a letter writer, we don't have a lot of Elvis in his own words, so the interviews are especially welcome. He speaks admiringly of Frank Sinatra and recalls a cherished car. The boy from the housing projects is happy that his mother can now go into a store and buy whatever she wants. As for the controversy he unintentionally generated, Jackson once told Goldmine, 'He was terribly hurt. He just couldn't believe that people thought of him as being vulgar.' But in these interviews he reserves his anger for the naysayers' trashing of the screaming girls in his audience. He's tough-skinned and open-minded about people not liking his music. It's the ugly potshots at his fans that he won't accept. The human being emerging from the interview tapes seems like a pretty decent guy.

First Review : 'Young Man With The Big Beat'

A mini review of this deluxe boxset from Atlas Jams online magazine 'Click Here' that just launched their first issue. The magazine includes this review of the new Elvis boxset.

Young Man With The Big Beat' - The Complete 1956 Elvis Presley Masters is due for release September 27. 1956 was the year Elvis Presley went from being a hick rockabilly singer to being the King of Rock'n'Roll. The great thing about it is that the 'hick' inside the boy (he was 21) was still endearingly alive.

These five discs brilliantly show the maturation process.

Disc #1 has the 12 songs of his self-titled debut LP and EP plus the five singles that were not on either.

Disc #2 has the 12 songs from his second album, 'Elvis', his second EP, plus the non-album singles.

To hear again in proper historical context what Presley did naturally to material by Big Joe Turner (Shake Rattle & Roll), Carl Perkins (Blue Suede Shoes), Ray Charles (I Got A Woman), Little Richard (Tutti Frutti) and Rodgers & Hart's 1934 Blue Moon is to realize the extent of his interpretive genius.

And how much more self-assured he sounds on Disc #2!

It's like night and day. 

Much more revealing is the infamous performance captured here from the New Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas. Four songs. And he bombs. He's obviously uncomfortable, cracking corny jokes like the hillbilly he must have seemed like to a Vegas crowd. His need to feel part of the show business tradition is palpable, exemplified when he stops the shoes introduce Phil Silvers and Ray Bolger in the audience. They both get polite applause. 'And Roy Acuff', he says of the Grand Ole Opry star, 'he's here too'. And, of course, nobody knows who the hell Roy Acuff is and there's an awkward silence where applause should be.

Disc #3 starts with this performance and it's fascinating. It's juxtaposed with a show just 10 days later in Little Rock, Arkansas, where Elvis is back in command and the girls go crazy.

Although the audio is inundated with the screams, Disc #3 is less a musical experience than a sociological one. You strain to hear Presley's between-song banter for a clue as to what must have been going through his mind upon the realization of the power he held over the gushing, screaming, crying women.

Disc #4 is similarly fascinating but in a different way. Here, you hear the studio out-takes and the effect is mesmerizing, almost hypnotic: 11 different takes in a row of 'Lawdy Miss Clawdy' followed by 12 different takes in a row of ‘Shake Rattle & Roll'. When the dust clears, you feel like you've been at a very hectic band practice.

Disc #5 is the most fascinating of them all. Here, the 21-year old tries (and fails) to make some sense of what he's going through in a series of interviews. He's honest to a fault, as he belonged to the generation of entertainers who didn't yet know how to play with the press like the Beatles and Dylan would a decade later.

It befittingly takes its title from RCA's very first Elvis poster campaign for his legendary debut album 'Elvis Presley' and celebrates 1956 in style with this retro 12x12 inch format and includes: Full details below ...

Young Man With The Big Beat

Note! 2 CD's of all the digitally remastered 1956 RCA master recordings.

Note! 1 CD of live performances including a complete unreleased concert Recorded At The Hirsch Youth Center, Louisiana Fairgrounds, Shreveport, Louisiana, December 15 [Recently discovered, previously unreleased concert in Shreveport, Louisiana : This is Elvis' last Hayride Show - complete.]

Note! 1 CD of insightful outtakes that offer a fly-on-the-wall experience of an Elvis recording session.

Note! 1 CD of revealing and rare spoken word recordings including, Colonel Tom Parker interviews; the complete Warwick Hotel interview; the extremely rare Elvis RCA Victrola advertisements and more.

Note! 80 Page 12" x 12" book with 12-month day-by-day chronology, rare memorabilia, photos, artifacts ...
Note! Memorabilia envelope with reproductions of posters, ticket stubs & photos.

'Young Man With The Big Beat' will feature one of the most extraordinary books every created at Legacy. The focal point of the book, spread across its 80 pages, will be a unique, meticulously-researched, day-by-day chronology of Elvis' iconic year, including every concert, every recording date, every television appearance, personal events in Elvis' life, and much more. A dazzling photo array of memorabilia will illustrate each day and entry. Concert ticket stubs, RCA memoranda, letters from fans, postcards from Elvis to his family, tour itineraries, magazine covers and articles, trade charts, fan club relics, RCA publicity photos, concert photos, candid photos, and more will be a feast for the eyes and the imagination as 1956 unfolds

View full tracklisting  below ....

Young Man With The Big Beat : The Complete '56 Elvis Presley Recordings

Buy Young Man With the Big Beat


Disc 1

  1. Blue Suede Shoes
  2. I'm Counting On You
  3. I Got A Woman
  4. One-Sided Love Affair
  5. I Love You Because
  6. Just Because
  7. Tutti Frutti
  8. Trying To Get To You
  9. I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry (Over You)
  10. I'll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin')
  11. Blue Moon
  12. Money Honey
  13. Heartbreak Hotel
  14. I Was The One
  15. My Baby Left Me
  16. Lawdy, Miss Clawdy
  17. Shake, Rattle And Roll

Disc 2

  1. Rip It Up
  2. Love Me
  3. When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again
  4. Long Tall Sally
  5. First In Line
  6. Paralyzed
  7. So Glad You're Mine
  8. Old Shep
  9. Ready Teddy
  10. Anyplace Is Paradise
  11. How's The World Treating You
  12. How Do You Think I Feel
  13. I Want You, I Need You, I Love You
  14. Hound Dog
  15. Don't Be Cruel
  16. Any Way You Want Me (That's How I Will Be)
  17. Too Much
  18. Playing For Keeps
  19. Love Me Tender
  20. Let Me
  21. Poor Boy
  22. We're Gonna Move

Disc 3

*Recorded At The Venus Room, Frontier Hotel,
Las Vegas, May 6

  1. Heartbreak Hotel
  2. Long Tall Sally
  3. Blue Suede Shoes
  4. Money Honey
  5. Little Rock, Arkansas, May 16
  6. Heartbreak Hotel
  7. Long Tall Sally
  8. I Was The One
  9. Money Honey
  10. I Got A Woman
  11. Blue Suede Shoes
  12. Hound Dog

    * Recorded At The Hirsch Youth Center, Louisiana
    Fairgrounds, Shreveport, Louisiana, December 15
    [Recently discovered, previously unreleased concert in Shreveport, Louisiana : Elvis' last Hayride Show]
  13. Heartbreak Hotel
  14. Long Tall Sally
  15. I Was The One
  16. Love Me Tender
  17. Don't Be Cruel
  18. Love Me
  19. I Got A Woman
  20. When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again
  21. Paralyzed
  22. Hound Dog

Disc 4 : The Outtakes

First RCA Session Outtakes

  1. I Got A Woman : take unknown
  2. Heartbreak Hotel : take 06
  3. I'm Counting On You : take 13
  4. I Was The One : take 02

    The Complete February 03 Sessions
  5. Lawdy, Miss Clawdy : take 01
  6. Lawdy, Miss Clawdy : take 03
  7. Lawdy, Miss Clawdy : take 04
  8. Lawdy, Miss Clawdy : take 05
  9. Lawdy, Miss Clawdy : take 06
  10. Lawdy, Miss Clawdy : takes 07, 08, 09
  11. Lawdy, Miss Clawdy : take 10 (master)
  12. Lawdy, Miss Clawdy : takes 11, 12
  13. Shake, Rattle And Roll : takes 01, 02
  14. Shake, Rattle And Roll : takes 03, 05, 06, 07
  15. Shake, Rattle And Roll : take 08
  16. Shake, Rattle And Roll : takes 09, 10, 11, 12, 12 (undubbed master)
  17. The Complete Warwick Hotel Interview

Disc 5 : The Interviews

  1. The Complete TV Guide Presents Elvis interview
  2. Colonel Parker Interview
  3. The Truth About Me
  4. The Truth About Me Interview
  5. Victrola Radio ad 1
  6. Victrola Radio ad 2

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Young Man With The Big Beat : The Complete '56 Elvis Presley Recordings

Young Man With The Big Beat : 5 CD Deluxe Set

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Elvis Presley Video Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD

Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered unreleased film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever. + Plus Bonus DVD Audio.

This is an excellent release no fan should be without it.

The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.

Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD Video with Sound.