For LP Fans Only
OK, to be fair, For LP Fans Only is no more a real Elvis Presley album than, say, Yesterday and Today was a real Beatles album -- Elvis was nine months through his two-year hitch in the army and RCA needed to get something "new" in the way of an LP out on him, so they threw together a quartet of sides from his Sun Records singles that had never been on album, five of his early RCA sides (which don't sound too different from the Sun stuff stylistically) that had similarly missed being put onto long-player, and one odd song off of the Love Me Tender soundtrack EP, and voila -- a new Elvis LP. It doesn't sound like much from that description, but in its time For LP Fans Only was (along with its follow-up, A Date With Elvis) one of the choicest of all Elvis Presley albums. From 1959 until 1976, unless you wanted to try hunting down the original singles, this was the only way that any listeners got to hear the King's Sun Records singles "That's All Right," "Mystery Train," and "My Baby Left Me," and the only album to offer such early RCA sides as "Shake, Rattle & Roll" as well. Maybe it could all have been done better and more coherently, and it would've been nice if the producers had avoided the electronically rechanneled stereo through which the original mono sides were processed, but all RCA was trying to do was get some Elvis Presley material out there -- they didn't get interested in the history or the particulars of the music until about 20 years later, and considering their obliviousness, they did astonishingly well. At least the songs were out there -- a lot of listeners wore out copies of this album just lending them around to the uninitiated -- and taken on its own terms, there weren't five more exciting rock & roll albums than this that you could buy in 1959 (or a lot of years after). It still holds up as one of the best rock & roll albums ever released, and for anyone who wants to remember (or find out) how most listeners discovered Elvis' early stuff during the 1960s and 1970s, this is one place to start, though vinyl connoisseurs will want to get a mono copy, and CD purchasers should get hold of the 2001-release audiophile Japanese version, mastered in 24-bit digital audio. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi
Track samples provided courtesy of iTunes
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