60 Million TV Viewers Can't Be Wrong
Don't Be Cruel
Love Me Tender
(Ed Sullivan,September 9, 1956, CBS studios, Hollywood
Don't Be Cruel
Love Me Tender
(Ed Sullivan, October 28, 1956, CBS studios, New York)
Medley: Hound Dog/ Love Me Tender/ Heartbreak Hotel
Don't Be Cruel
When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again
Peace In The Valley
(Ed Sullivan, January 6, 1957, CBS studios, New York)
TV guide presents Elvis, the complete interview, August 6, 1956.
Some of the most famous moments in television history are Elvis' appearances on the Ed Sullivan show in 1956 and 1957. Like the Beatles debut seven years later, millions of lives were forever changed by what was seen and heard jumping off the screen and into their homes. Every fan deserves to see complete video copies of Elvis' fifties TV performances -- perhaps someday the estate will release them that way. Thanks to Ger Rijff, the Sullivan guest shots are now on CD, as a bonus disc included with his incredible photo journal of the same title.
Despite omitting guest host Charles Laughton's New York introduction of September 9 and Elvis' closing comments (from Los Angeles), this is essential music. On this first show, Elvis and the band swing through "Don't Be Cruel", a :30 version of "Hound Dog" (!!), an amazing "Ready Teddy" and a humble world premiere of "Love Me Tender" ("completely different from anything we've ever done"). Six weeks later (on October 28) finds Ed Sullivan back as host, recovered from his auto accident -- he introduces Elvis about every five seconds -- and Elvis delivers to New York and the country almost a replay of his September visit. Instead of "Ready Teddy" he plugs "Love Me" from his new album 'Elvis' and it's terrific (the only live version from the 1950's in existence); plus, he gives "Hound Dog" a full minute and a half, with a hilarious introduction to boot. Listen closely to "Love Me Tender" -- it contains a verse not sung on the official release. Typically, Elvis thanks his fans and says "until we meet you again, may God bless you as he has blessed me" -- Gladys must've loved that.
The best Sullivan show is Elvis' final visit in January, the only one where he is filmed "from the waist up". Despite truncated versions of "Hound Dog" and "Heartbreak Hotel", he delivers an awesome, Jackie Wilson-derived imitation of "Don't Be Cruel" ("at least please a-telly-phone"), a stately and dignified "Peace In The Valley" (to be recorded in Los Angeles a week later for a gospel EP), plus a beefy version of "Too Much" (he fluffs the lyrics at one point) and a breezy take on "When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again" (listen as he steps on Scotty's solo to sing the next verse). He mentions that it was the best Presley Christmas ever -- and he got "exactly 282 teddy bears"! Ed Sullivan even calls Elvis over to pronounce him "thoroughly all right" and a "very nice person" at the end of the evening.
As a bonus, one of the most aggressive interviews Elvis ever gave is available complete for the first time ever. Paul Wilder, a friend of manager Tom Parker, spoke with Elvis on August 6, 1956, backstage at the Polk Theater in Lakeland, Florida. In twenty-eight minutes Wilder timidly quotes from an extremely negative review someone ELSE (journalist Herb Rau) wrote and asks Presley how he feels about it. A small portion of this was later used as a special TV Guide promo disc (now rare and valuable), but it has never been heard in its entirety. Wilder goes on and on, and Elvis gets very agitated at times. His replies are revelatory and it's one of the few public moments where he seems to let his guard down. His pointed and bitter comments on his religious upbringing ("my religion has NOTHING to do with what I do now because the type of stuff I do now is not religious music"), his talent (or lack thereof) and the division between his fans and his detractors are priceless.
This wallet sleeved disc is designed by the incomparable Ger Rijff and it's superb (similar to the afore-mentioned photo journal's sleeve). No one is more qualified to create Elvis album covers -- he should design them all! Even if RCA/BMG re-release 'A Golden Celebration' on CD, this disc is essential for the thirty minute Florida interview, let alone the incredible music.
Reviewed by Johnny Savage, USA