Three Elvis albums are in Rolling Stone's just-published 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time list: The Sun Sessions (11), Elvis Presley (55) and From Elvis in Memphis (190). The Beatles managed four albums in the top ten and 'Sgt Pepper' was the all-time number 1.
Here are their comments on Elvis' three LPs.
The Sun Sessions: Many believe Rock & Roll was born on July 5th, 1954, at Sun Studios in Memphis. Elvis Presley, guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black were horsing around with "That's All Right," a tune by bluesman Arthur Crudup, when producer Sam Phillips stopped them and asked, "What are you doing?" "We don't know," they said. Phillips told them to "back up and do it again." The A side of Presley's first single (backed with a version of Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky"), "That's All Right" was issued by Sun, on July 19th. It may or may not be the first rock & roll record. But the man who would be King was officially on wax. Bridging black and white, country and blues, his sound was playful and revolutionary. As Presley biographer Peter Guralnick observed, "This is the most improbable story of all: In a tiny Memphis studio, in 1954 and 1955, Sam Phillips and Elvis Presley created rock & roll." Presley released four more singles on Sun -- including definitive reinventions of Wynonie Harris' "Good Rockin' Tonight" and Junior Parker's "Mystery Train" -- before moving on to immortality at RCA. It took more than twenty years for Presley's Sun output to be properly collected on this '76 LP -- which has since been superseded by Sunrise, a double-CD chronicle of the King's beginnings at Sun, released in 1999.
Elvis Presley: In November 1955, RCA Records bought Presley's contract, singles and unreleased master tapes from Sun Records for $35,000. His first full-length album came out six months later, with tracks drawn from both the Sun sessions and from further recording at RCA's studios in New York and Nashville. "There wasn't any pressure," guitarist Scotty Moore said of the first RCA sessions. "They were just bigger studios with different equipment. We basically just went in and did the same thing we always did." On tracks such as "Blue Suede Shoes," that meant revved-up country music with the most irresistibly sexy voice anyone had ever heard.
From Elvis In Memphis: "I had to leave town for a little while", Presley sings in the first track. Along with his 1968 TV special, this record announced he was back. Cut at Chips Momans American Studios, it is little short of astounding. With help from a crack crew of Memphis musicians, Presley masterfully tackles quality material from country (I'm Movin On), gospel (Long Black Limousine), soul (Only the Strong Survive) and pop (Any Day Now) as well as message songs (In the Ghetto). The same sessions also yielded one of Presleys greatest singles, the towering pop-soul masterpiece Suspicious Minds.