Monday, March 22, 1976

Elvis Presley’s Sun Sessions released in album form: March 22, 1976

image from virginmedia.com

Originally posted 3/22/2012. Updated 3/9/2013.


Release date: March 22, 1976; Release date: August 1953 to October 1955
Tracks: * (Click for codes to singles charts.) 1. That’s All Right (7/54, #3 UK, sales: 0.5 m) 2. Blue Moon of Kentucky 3. I Don’t Care if the Sun Don’t Shine (9/54, #74 US, #23 UK) 4. Good Rockin’ Tonight 5. Milk Cow Blues Boogie 6. You’re a Heartbreaker 7. I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone (4/55, #21 UK) 8. Baby Let’s Play House (4/55, #5 US) 9. Mystery Train (9/17/55, #25 UK, #11 CW) 10. I Forgot to Remember to Forget (9/17/55, #1 CW) 11. I’ll Never Let You Go Little Darlin’ 12. Tryin’ to Get to You (9/8/56, #16 UK) 13. I Love You Because 14. Blue Moon (9/29/56, #55 US, #9 UK) 15. Just Because

* These are the basic tracks on any of the variations of the collections of Elvis’ Sun recordings.

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Peak: 76 US, 16 UK

Rating:


Review: “Who doesn’t need this in their record collection?” AMG1The Sun Sessions stands as the quintessential Elvis Presley album and the birth certificate for rock’s once and future king.” RV “There aren’t many rock albums that feature music one can honestly say changed the world as we know it, but that is, if anything, a modest appraisal of the contents of Elvis Presley’s The Sun Sessions.” AMG1 His “first recordings captured a force of nature: untutored, unsophisticated, but somehow brilliant.” BL “On July 5, 1954, Elvis Presley walked into…Sun Studios in Memphis.” TL He was only 19, but along with guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, they made history.

“Elvis certainly didn’t invent rock & roll, and he wasn’t even the first white guy to play it,” AMG1 but he “was (with little room for argument) the single most important artist in the history of rock & roll.” AMG1 “Much as Louis Armstong did for jazz, Elvis created a distinctive new way to play the music that combined a number of influences,” AMG1 such as “elements of blues, gospel and hillbilly music” AMG3 as well as “R&B, country, and pop.” AMG1 He found “a common ground between them that was his and his alone.” AMG1 “Presley was one of the most naturally gifted performers his genre ever knew, and was the performer who truly brought the music to the people as no one had before or since.” AMG1

Sam Phillips, the head of Sun Studios, “once boasted that if he could find a white singer that could sing, sound and feel ‘'like a negro’ that he’d make a million dollars.” AD Phillips had much to do with shaping Elvis’ early sound. Phillips produced five singles with Elvis that were released in 1954 and 1955. The impact of those singles wasn’t immediately felt, but once Elvis hit big, his work with Sun Records resurfaced, largely filling out Elvis’ early albums for RCA Records. As for that million dollars, Phillips fell short of that goal, making $35,000 when he sold Elvis’ contract to RCA. However, the value these songs had in shaping rock and roll is priceless.

That’s All Right

Sun’s first Elvis single married the country music of typically white performers with the R&B music of typically black performers when Arthur Crudup’s R&B song That’s All Right was infused with Elvis’ country twang. “It still sounds audacious, as if the players themselves can’t believe what they’re doing.” TL Then, on the flip side, Bill Monroe’s Blue Moon of Kentucky was transformed from its hillbilly roots into an R&B recording. “So taken was Bill Monroe by The King’s interpretation…Monroe re-recorded the track to make it sound like Presley.” RV On these and others, Elvis “forever burn[s] his imprint into classic spirituals and bluegrass favorites.” RV

Blue Moon of Kentucky

The Sun Sessions gathers those songs and the other singles and B-sides from the Sun Years and adds six more outtakes from the era. The resulting “album captures Elvis in his first flush of greatness,” AMG1 collecting “his first, and arguably most important, recordings into one convenient package.” AMG1 “One can hear the thrill of discovery and experimentation on every cut” AMG1 as “Elvis [is] first learning to put his ideas together in the recording studio.” AMG1 He “burst into these sessions, raring to go… his delivery is tense sounding, a result of nerves perhaps, but this tension is released into a collection of stunning vocal performances.” AD “If Elvis would sound stronger and more savvy with time, he never sounded freer or more excited with the possibilities of his own voice as he does on this material.” AMG1 This “is a young Elvis Presley…getting ready to unleash…rock & roll…on an unsuspecting world.” AMG3

Mystery Train

“The faster cuts, mostly, where Elvis really is himself, really pours his voice out.” AD His takes on “That’s All Right” and Junior Parker’s Mystery Train “are both totally together, tight performances and the voice of Elvis is very rich and the musical backings creating much excitement.” AD The latter “overflows with such spontaneity and excitement, it feels like it must have been done in one take. The song rocks and rolls with such rollicking grittiness.” RV

You’re a Heartbreaker boasts a great, assured Elvis vocal in contrast to other, more tense performances. Same comments apply to the very assured sounding and hugely enjoyable rock-n-roll of Good Rockin’ Tonight.” AD Performances like “Blue Moon of Kentucky” “are just so loose and raw, so genuine in the emotion and excitement.” AD “The sheer enthusiasm Elvis brings to these Sun recordings is audible.” AD

Good Rockin’ Tonight


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Saturday, March 13, 1976

Eagles top the charts with their first greatest hits

First posted 2/1/2011; updated 6/17/2019.

Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975

Eagles


Released: 2/17/1976


Charted: 3/6/1976


Peak: #15 US, #2 UK, #12 CN, # AU


Sales (in millions): 38.0 US, 0.3 UK, 42.9 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: California country rock


Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

  1. Take It Easy (Glenn Frey/Jackson Browne) [3:29] (5/20/72, #12 US, #9 CB, #12 AC, #12 UK, #8 CN, #49 AU)
  2. Witchy Woman (Don Henley/Bernie Leadon) [4:10] (8/26/72, #9 US, #11 CB, #8 CN, #81 AU)
  3. Lyin’ Eyes (Don Henley/Glenn Frey) [6:21] (9/13/75, #2 US, #3 CB, #3 AC, #8 CW, #23 UK, #19 CN, #34 AU)
  4. Already Gone (Robb Strandland/Jack Temphcin) [4:13] (5/4/74, #32 US, #17 CB, #12 CN)
  5. Desperado (Don Henley/Glenn Frey) [3:33]
  6. One of These Nights (Don Henley/Glenn Frey) [4:51] (5/30/75, #11 US, #11 CB, #20 AC, #23 UK, #13 CN, #33 AU)
  7. Tequila Sunrise (Don Henley/Glenn Frey) [2:52] (6/9/73, #64 US, #40 CB, #26 AC, #68 CN)
  8. Take It to the Limit (Don Henley/Glenn Frey/Randy Meisner) [4:48] (12/20/75, #4 US, #5 CB, #4 AC, #12 UK, #16 CN, #30 AU)
  9. Peaceful, Easy Feeling (Jack Tempchin) [4:16] (12/23/72, #22 US, #20 CB, #20 AC, #35 CN)
  10. Best of My Love (Don Henley/Glenn Frey/J.D. Souther) [4:35] (11/30/74, #11 US, #4 CB, #11 AC, #11 CN)

Review:

This album wasn’t just the “first album ever certified platinum;” WR it was the best-selling album in the U.S. in the 20th century. WK It lost the title to Michael Jackson’s Thriller after the artist’s death in 2009, but regained it in August 2018. WK “There may be no explaining that, really, except to note that this was the pervasive music of the first half of the 1970s, and somehow it never went away.” WR

“On their first four albums, the Eagles were at pains to demonstrate that they were a group of at least near-equals, each getting a share of the songwriting credits and lead vocals. But this compilation…demonstrates that this evenhandedness did not extend to singles – as far as those go, the Eagles belong to Glenn Frey and Don Henley.” WR They wrote or co-wrote eight of the collection’s songs and one or the other sang lead on every song but Take It to the Limit.

Of the ten songs that comprise this collection, nine were released as singles (b>Desperado is the sole exception). Eight were top 40 hits on the Billboard pop chart (only Tequila Sunrise missed the top 40), five went top ten, and two of them (One of These Nights and Best of My Love) topped the charts.

The band, however, didn’t have any say in putting together the album and complained it was “nothing more than a ploy by the record company to sell product without having to pay additional production costs.” WK Don Henley didn’t like that songs like “Tequila Sunrise” and “Desperado” were taken out of the context of their original albums. WK The album did, however, buy the band time while they worked on what would become their best-selling studio album, 1977’s Hotel California.

Despite Henley’s frustration that songs were taken out of context, “these songs make up a collection consistent in mood and identity” WK “unlike the albums from which they come.” WK Thre result is that this compilation “works so much better than the band’s previous discs [that it] practically makes them redundant.” WR

“The tunes are melodic, and the arrangements – full of strummed acoustic guitars over a rock rhythm section often playing a shuffle beat, topped by tenor-dominated harmonies – are immediately engaging. There is also a lyrical consistency to the songs, which often concern romantic uncertainties in an atmosphere soaked in intoxicants. The narrators of the songs usually seem exhausted, if not satiated, and the loping rhythms are appropriate to these impressions.” WR

In addition to phenomenal sales, this was the rare compilation that topped the Billboard album charts. It debuted at #4 in its first week and then went to #1 the next week, where it stayed for five non-consecutive weeks. Over the years, the album has logged the equivalent of five years on the album chart.


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