The design of the set is done with taste. It's most black and white with golden fonts. This is a good choice since all photographs are also black and white. There are some great shots of Elvis on the Louisiana Hayride including images of Elvis playing the drums and accordion.
The booklet is about twelve pages in a fold out style with a lot of images and the storyline of the documentary and background information on music in the fifties. The CD's are "picture disks" besides the besides the track listing and the title there are two small images of Elvis on the disks.
The title of this 2CD release is very well chosen since the content has been done in the form of a documentary. We can follow Elvis "evolution" from Elvis' first appearance on October 16, 1954 in front of a crowd of several hundred people to his final special appearance before over 10,000 people on December 16, 1956.
This live radio show, which began airing in 1948, rivaled the Grand Ole Opry for appeal in its day. You get to hear what the audience heard ...The evolution of Elvis Presley from a an nervous kid who wanted to be a country-western singer to the King of Rock and Roll.
The story is told as a documentary by Frank Page, one of the original announcers for the Louisiana Hayride and the man who first introduced Elvis on their stage. He takes you backstage at the Hayride and on the road with Elvis. His recollections provide wonderful insight to Elvis' performances on this renown radio show.
Frank tells the story of Elvis Louisiana Hayride appearances as an introduction to the recordings of the actual performances that survived the test of time. Starting of with an 'impression" of an evening out in the fifties to the Louisiana Hayride. It's a bit like you're there, looking around. We can hear Elvis "evolve" from a shy boy on his first appearance to the king at this last performance on the show.
Unlike all the other budget releases with various Hayride recordings simply put together this release gives the tracks in the right order with background info on the actual performance. Besides that this release is complete covering all available Hayride recordings from 1955 to 1956 in a very good quality.
We must make the remark that this is not the kind of release you put in your CD player and listen to while doing something Else. Since it's a "documentary" you have to pay attention since there's a lot of 'talking' on these CD's between the tracks. Another option is of course to program the musical tracks.
When Elvis left the stage after his final Louisiana Hayride performance on December 15, 1956, the show’s producer and announcer Horace Logan tried to quiet the crowd so the show could continue by uttering for the first time the now-famous words "Elvis has left the building". The claim on the CD that this now famous announcement has never before been released on CD is untrue. It was released on another Hayride archive, the 3CD box "The Louisiana Hayride Shows" released by the Goldies label in 1998 (also presented by Frank Page). But for those of you who don't have that one it is now included so you can can add this piece of Elvis history to your collection. Conclusion
This release is the complete history of Elvis Louisiana Hayride performances and therefore a great addition to your collection. If you buy this you can throw away every other Hayride collection you have since those are not as complete as this release, and don't have this audio quality. Well, perhaps you should keep one other CD, because listening to the same documentary again and again might get boring at some point.