Elvis Presley – Young Man With the Big Beat: The Complete ’56 Elvis Presley Masters (CDs)

In 1956, a 21-year-old Elvis Aaron Presley was on the verge of becoming a phenomenally influential music icon. Recently signed to RCA, 1956 was the year his debut came out and more importantly the year his (big gasp) lewd hip movements on The Ed Sullivan Show created massive amounts of controversy and cemented his legacy as the first real badass of rock and roll, a legacy that even bloating and bad Vegas shows could never erase.

With the Young Man With the Big Beat box set, Legacy Records is releasing a fantastic collection of musical history. The five-disc set includes two CDs of original digitally remastered RCA masters, a CD of live performances (including a complete live, unreleased show from Shreveport, Louisiana; and sets from Little Rock, Arkansas and Las Vegas),a CD of recording session outtakes and an additional CD of interviews. Though the performances and remastered CDs are great in their own right, it’s the outtakes and interview CDs that are bound to interest longtime fans.

The outtakes are an intimate listen into music history being made, while the interviews, including hard-to-find spoken word recordings from Elvis and a very early TV Guide interview with the singer and Col. Tom Parker, are simply fascinating (but one of the interviews takes an odd, borderline creeper turn when the reporter starts asking him about his sideburns and when he first started growing them. This final disc also includes the almost legendary Warwick Hotel interview and some rare Elvis RCA Victrola advertisements.

It’s surprising that RCA and others would have the foresight to hold onto these recording, but thankfully they did. Almost six decades later it’s like listening to history being made. Long live the King!

Elvis Presley – Young Man With the Big Beat: The Complete ’56 Elvis Presley Masters/4 CDs/RCA/Legacy/2011

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