Elvis' Golden Records

Elvis' Golden Records

Released in 1958, Elvis’ Golden Records brings together some of the most inescapable singles from Elvis Presley’s first decade as a recording artist—tunes that are known around the planet. Considered by many to be the first formal greatest-hits album, Elvis’ Golden Records includes several chart-topping hits—including “Don’t Be Cruel” and “All Shook Up”—alongside several crucial B-sides. Together, the 14 tracks collected here are proof positive of just how dominant a force Presley had become in the two short years since he’d broken American popular culture, and begun refashioning it in his own image. It all makes for a rewarding front-to-back listen, with familiar classics alongside ever-so-slightly less familiar tunes, including the sprawling “Any Way You Want Me (That’s How I Will Be)” and the sultry boogie-woogie “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear.” The collection was released three days before Presley was drafted—in a highly publicized fashion, naturally—marking a two-year pause in his prolific recording career. The songs, though, don’t sound like the music of anyone well-suited to following orders: Whether on the seductive “Heartbreak Hotel,” the lusty “Hound Dog,” or the fiery “Jailhouse Rock,” Presley was pushing towards edgy rock ’n’ roll music that drove teens into a frenzy, and made parents tear their hair out. But alongside those raucous, good-time numbers are gentle, swooning ballads: “Loving You” and “Love Me” have full pop gloss, while “Love Me Tender” is startling in its intimacy, with Presley’s crooning accompanied only by guitar for much of the record. The two sides of the singer’s heartthrob-dom are painted vividly in these over-the-top performances, seductive growls, and sweet melodies fit for a storybook romance—all the elements his fans found impossible to ignore.

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