LPM 1254 Black Label Dog On Top
Side 1. Blue Suede Shoes / I'M Counting On You / I Got A Woman / One-Sided Love Affair / I Love You Because / Just Because
Side 2. Tutti Frutti / Tryin' To Get To You / I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry (over you) / I'll Never Let You Go (little darlin') / Blue Moon / Money Honey
This LP was on Billboard's Hot 100 chart on March 31st 1956, at the number 1 position for ten weeks, and remained on the chart for forty-nine weeks
This LP was released in the UK by RCA, HMV CLP 1093, and was released as Rock'n'Roll, ad had a different track list as the US version, it was released in the UK in October 1956 and would go on to reach the number 4 position on the chart
In 1956 the record industry in the United States regarded singles as one-offs, RCA even had different departments to produce separate albums and singles, this is probably why none of Elvis' Sun singles or the chart topping "Heartbreak Hotel" were not included on his first RCA album release, it seemed that only pop albums were thought to have commercial potential, and many stars resigned themselves to only releasing singles. But Elvis was different, RCA's buyout of Elvis' contract from Sun Records at a record-breaking $35,000 and $5,000 to Elvis himself, never before had a record label paid so much for an artist, let alone a little known country singer, so RCA's first move was to release all five Sun singles under the RCA label. RCA also bought up all the other material that Elvis had recorded at Sun, and Steve Sholes new that there was some of these tracks that he could use for an album, after all, it was the distinctive "slapback" echo of the Sun recordings that had provided the basis for Elvis' popularity, so adding unheard material from that era made sense. In the meantime Elvis needed to start work for his new employers, so Sholes booked Elvis for his first recording session for RCA at it's Nashville studios on January 10th 1956.
Backed by the band that included Elvis' regular musicians Scotty Moore, Bill Black and D.J. Fontana, the two days in Nashville saw Elvis record five tracks, among them "Heartbreak Hotel" which was quickly released as a single, although Elvis felt as ease, the same couldn't be said for Sholes, he had tried to and failed to mimic the "slap-back" sound of Sun on "Heartbreak Hotel" and failed to capture the vibrant sound of those Sun releases on other session tracks.
Sholes's superiors at RCA were also expressing doubts, and by the time a second recording session was arranged at RCA's New York studio's for the end of January, the pressure was on. Though six tracks were laid down, Sholes was still feeling uneasy, and he called Sam Phillips at Sun for reassurance, "i told him he hadn't bought the wrong person", Phillips recalled later, referring to the rise of Carl Perkins, the other Sun artist enjoying chart success at the time, and i told him... just don't try to make Elvis what he's not instinctively." To hi credit, Sholes heeded this advice, and with two RCA sessions and some Sun cuts to pick from, he spent the next month making his final choice for the album.
The 12 tracks on Elvis Presley are an engaging mix of old and new. It opens with Elvis' version of "Blue Suede Shoes" which would become a standard for Elvis over the years, and would eclipse Perkins's original.
The country ballad "I'm Counting On You" dates from those first RCA sessions in Nashville, and Elvis' great vocals proved he could carry of straight country songs, Steve Sholes new this from the start, that's why he had alerted RCA's marketing team about the singers cross-genre potential.
Elvis warmed up at the Nashville sessions with a song from his live set, Ray Charles's "I Got A Woman", it is passionately sung and has a rockabilly feel to it with some drum inconsistencies and a slight echo going back to his Sun recordings. Next up is from the New York session, "One-Sided Love Affair", this track has great vocals, it is raunchy but good natured with Elvis slurring some words, something that would would become one of his trademark.
The oldest track on the album is "I Love You Because", this dates back to Elvis' earliest Sun sessions in July 1954, which produced his first single "That's All Right (mama)". Side one is rounded off by "Just Because", a Sun recording from September 1954, this clearly captures his country roots and his enthusiastic vocal again adds a touch of originality.
Side two kicks off with a New York recorded track, Little Richard's classic "Tutti Frutti", though in my opinion Elvis doesn't quite capture the vibrant rawness of the original but still does a great vocal job on the track. By contrast another unreleased Sun recording "Trying To Get To You" is perfect in all ways, vocal and musically by the band.
Although "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry (over you)" was done at the same New York session as "One-Sided Love Affair", it lacks the energy and commitment as the latter. "I'll Never Let You Go (little darlin')" and "Blue Moon" mark the final return to Sun tracks, both are good songs in their own right but seem to feel distinctly unfinished.
Elvis, Scotty and Bill had been playing "Money Honey" in their live shows for some time before recording it for RCA, and their obvious familiarity with the song provides an assured end to the album.
Apparently the reason why Steve Sholes included unreleased Sun recordings on Elvis' debut LP was that he wasn't certain that the singer had long-lasting potential, but such fears were put to rest by the album's success, released in March 1956, it had sold more than 360,00 copies by April and topped the new Billboard album charts on May 5th 1956, staying there for 10 weeks and breaking RCA record sales.
Blue Suede Shoes - Recorded January 30 1956, RCA Studio 1, New York
I'm Counting On You - Recorded January 11 1956, RCA Studio's, Nashville
I Got A Woman - Recorded January 10 1956, RCA Studio's Nashville
One-Sided Love Affair - Recorded January 30 1956, RCA Studio 1, New York
I Love You Because - Recorded July 5 1954, Sun Studios, Memphis, Tennessee
Just Because - Recorded September 1954, Sun Studios, Memphis Tennessee
Tutti Frutti - Recorded January 31 1956, RCA Studio 1, New York
Trying To Get To You - Recorded between January 30 and February 4 1955, Sun Studios, Memphis,
I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry (over you) - Recorded January 31 1956, RCA Studio 1, New York
I'll Never Let You Go (little darlin) - Recorded between September 12 -16 1954, Sun Studios, Memphis,
Blue Moon - Recorded August 19 1954, Sun Studios, Memphis, Tennessee
Money Honey - Recorded January 10 1956, RCA Studio's, Nashville
Sun Studios, Memphis, Tennessee
RCA Studios, Nashville, Tennessee
RCA Studios, New York City
Elvis Presley - Vocals, Guitar
Scotty Moore - Guitar
Chet Atkins - Guitar
Bill Black - Bass
Johnny Bernero, D.J. Fontana - Drums
Floyd Cramer, Shorty Long - Piano
Gordon Stoker, Ben & Brock Speer - Vocals
US - 1
UK - 1
US - March 1956
UK - October 1956