Bonus material: For The Record / The Early Years / The SUN Recordings / On The Road / RCA Buys Elvis' Contract
The third edition of the series "Classic Albums" features Elvis' first RCA release "Elvis Presley".
The DVD has a very 'bright" design to put it mildly. Fifties photos with the pink and green from Elvis first album. The menu of the DVD is done like a classic album sleeve. It would have been nice if the cover had been done the same. The one page booklet contains the chapters of the DVD.
The documentary focuses on Elvis' first album. Therefore they go back to Elvis SUN days and his first recording sessions for RCA in Nashville and New York. These sessions were the input for his legendary album. Sam Philips tells his story and explains Elvis (black) musical heritage. Both Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana add some good background information on how the tracks evolved, both on the road and in the studio.
The historical part is told by two well known names from the Elvis world. Ernst Jorgensen talks about how the tracks were recorded and Peter Guralnick who talks about the feelings RCA had towards Elvis and the troubles and skepticism Steve Sholes had to deal with. We get a lot of information on recording an album in the fifties, looking at the techniques and even the censoring of the lyrics. DJ Fontana describes how Elvis searched for "a feeling" rather than technical perfection to get that SUN sound.
To place this album in the right timeframe we get interviews with Elvis ex girlfriend Dixie Locke on the "private" Elvis and his newfound stardom. A lot of original footage of a private Elvis in the fifties make this very interesting to watch. To put the album in an historic perspective, that's what the series is about, we get commends from BB King and Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones.
The beauty of this documentary is that the footage is original and of great quality, both the private as live footage. We see the first live (colour) footage of Elvis, we see him gaining confidence during the first series of T.V. appearances, live in Tupelo and live footage of Elvis on the road. Where no footage is available they used pictures to tell the story. A little minor is that this is all footage without sound, and they cut it to match the music. So it looks like Elvis singing the songs, but the real fan knows he isn't singing it. But for an documentary aiming at a broader audience this will probably look good.
This is all accompanied with original music such as Blue Suede Shoes, Shake Rattle and Roll, Heartbreak Hotel, Tutti Frutti and others. This is a big pro over a lot of documentaries on Elvis out there.
The bonus footage on this DVD contains five chapters dealing with several interesting items which probably didn't make it into the documentary itself.
This release is a very interesting documentary to watch, because of the great original footage and original music in this great quality you'll probably watch is more than once. This release makes the press release true.