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ELV1S 30 #1 Hits

By Bill Ellis Commercial Appeal, September 21, 2002 | Music
Had enough of Elvis? I didn't think so. Neither does his record label RCA, which gave us a boxed set, "Today, Tomorrow & Forever," in time for Elvis Week and now offers "Elv1s: 30 #1 Hits," in stores on Tuesday.

Marketed along similar lines as the Beatles' million-selling compilation "1," this Kingly selection also has platinum stars in its eyes.

There is a difference. The Beatles were a more consistent act. Buying a record of Presley chart toppers doesn't necessarily mean buying the best music the man made, just his best-selling songs at any given time (and if pop culture were judged solely on what sells the most, we'd still be singing the praises of Debby Boone). For a better representation of Presley's many musical highs, I still prefer RCA's three-CD box, "Artist of the Century," or the Reader's Digest four-CD collection, "Elvis! His Greatest Hits."

But "Elv1s: 30 #1 Hits" - which includes No. 1s from both the U.S. and U.K. charts - has a lot going for it. Almost two-thirds of the tracks are from 1956-1960, when Elvis was at his commercial and artistic peak. While the Sun material isn't here (and that remains the greatest music he ever made, even if it charted only regionally in its day), no one can fault such timeless performances as Heartbreak Hotel, All Shook Up, Jailhouse Rock and A Big Hunk O' Love.

Yet reaching No. 1 doesn't redeem the lameness of certain '60s recordings, including his melodramatic stabs at Neapolitan balladry - It's Now or Never and Surrender - the empty Good Luck Charm or the truly awful Wooden Heart (it didn't chart in America but, alas, spent six weeks at No. 1 in England).

However, the disc's remastered sound is a key selling point, and Presley has rarely sounded better sonically than here. Listen to the extra bite in the bowed bass on the opening to In the Ghetto or to the triumphant presence of the vocal on Suspicious Minds, on which it heretofore had been buried.

The remix hit A Little Less Conversation - a global No. 1 this summer by Dutch deejay JXL - is the persuasive bonus track. If RCA hopes to induct a new generation of Elvis fans, this just may do the trick.

Buy at Amazon.co.uk
Sandman wrote on February 01, 2010
Songs that went straight in on Billboard's first place.