The Commercial Appeal in Memphis did a short review on the four remastered CD's 'Elvis 56', 'Heart & Soul', Great Country Songs' and 'Can't Help Falling in Love - The Hollywood Hits', all from RCA/BMG Heritage.
Add four compilations to the endless list of Elvis Presley product. Building on the multiplatinum success that "Elv1s: 30 #1 Hits" has generated - and released this week to coincide with what would have been the King's 68th birthday on Wednesday - are the single-disc anthologies "Elvis 56," "Heart & Soul," "Great Country Songs" and "Can't Help Falling in Love - The Hollywood Hits."
The titles are self-explanatory, genre wrap-ups of the singer's many sides from rock and country to love ballads and film tunes. The records also inaugurate RCA's new streamlined approach to Presley's catalog, whereby product has been upgraded through both remastered sound from original source tapes and new packaging that will help consolidate the bounty of releases internationally.
How do they sound? Wonderful. If you picked up "Elv1s: 30 #1 Hits," you know that this latest remastering makes the music as present and alive as it has ever been. And at more than 20 tracks a disc, each record - three with bonus material - presents a full, classy portrait.
"Elvis 56" contains 22 sides from his first year after leaving Sun for RCA, including alternative takes of Shake, Rattle and Roll and Heartbreak Hotel; the ballads collection, "Heart & Soul," features the first stereo releases of Love Me Tender and I've Lost You; and "Great Country Songs," which leads off with several Sun classics, has five previously unreleased alternative takes including first takes of Green, Green Grass of Home and There Goes My Everything. Only "Can't Help Falling in Love - The Hollywood Hits" eschews bonus tracks, though it does distill the most inconsistent part of Presley's career down to the chestnuts.
RCA knows that Presley fans will do anything to get closer to their object of affection, and that means investing in just about every available altered format of the performer's music. These new releases, presented with care, scholarship and sonic improvement, make perhaps the strongest case yet for the continued reissues. At the same time, fitting Presley's catalog into such obvious categories does something of an injustice to a man whose legacy is without category.