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Elvis Presley
A Golden Celebration


 

A Golden Celebration - EU 1998 - BMG 07863 67456 2 - Elvis Presley CD

Release: 1998 BMG 07863 67456 2   EU 50 €
Release: 1998 BMG BVCZ-1110-3 Made in EU Japan 75 €
Release: 1998 BMG 07863 67456 2   USA 50 €

 

There had been Elvis Presley boxes before A Golden Celebration, but those were primarily made up of previously available material. Originally intended to celebrate what would have been Elvis' 50th birthday, A Golden Celebration was six LPs' worth of music, most of it not previously available in any easy-to-find (or legitimate) form, and devoted almost entirely to the early years of his career -- the period when Elvis Presley was not only exciting, but changing the way people perceived music. Seven Sun Records outtakes lead off this set; next up are all six of Elvis' live appearances on Stage Show, the entertainment showcase hosted by Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey. The quality of these shows is extraordinary, and the virtual absence of background noise makes every nuance of Presley's performances stand out; it's particularly fascinating to hear the growing enthusiasm of the audience from week to week. The second disc, consisting of Presley's appearances on the Milton Berle Show and the Steve Allen Show, is very different. In contrast to the Dorseys' cautious enthusiasm for their guest performer, Berle clearly understood at least the superficial range of Presley's cultural impact. The appearance would work better as a video, however, since it features a lot of clowning by the participants. The Steve Allen material reveals more of Presley and Allen than either was letting on. Allen had major doubts about rock & roll (betrayed in his voice during his introduction), but was virtually forced by public demand to book Presley; Presley, in turn, was eager to get past doubts about the wholesomeness of his music and personality. The bulk of the disc, however, is made up of a performance at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show in his hometown of Tupelo, MS, on September 26, 1956. The afternoon show is very lo-fi, but the evening show, on disc three, has better sound. The Ed Sullivan appearances round out the disc, and they have the best sound quality of all the live material. Disc four features Presley's home recordings during his military service in Germany, some tracks of unknown origin, and excerpts from one of the informal "sit down shows" used in his 1968 television comeback. Overall, as a pre-CD Elvis Presley package, A Golden Celebration has held up exceptionally well; the producers of the CD version have taken great pains to boost the volume and clarity of the original masters. (AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder )