Saturday, October 8, 2016

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 299: Listen to Elvis Presley’s “The Sun Sessions”

Elvis Presley is one of the most famous entertainers of all time, but I have to admit that I’ve listened to very little of his music except for his most famous songs. Several years ago, I was looking at a “best of” list published by Rolling Stone magazine in November 2003 called the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time,” and noticed that four of Elvis’ albums had made the list. Of these, his 1976 album, “The Sun Sessions” was the highest ranked on the list, so I added it to my “bucket list” shortly thereafter.

“The Sun Sessions” album was released on March 22, 1976 and consists of songs Elvis recorded between July 1954 and July 1955. In all, there are 16 songs on the album, which takes its name from the fact that the songs were originally recorded in Sun Studio in Memphis, Tenn. Altogether, the album is 39 minutes and 47 seconds long.

Songs on the album include “That’s All Right (Mama),” “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” “I Don’t Care if the Sun Don’t Shine,” “Good Rockin’ Tonight,” “Milkcow Blues Boogie,” “You’re a Heartbreaker,” “I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone,” “Baby Let’s Play House,” “Mystery Train,” “I Forgot to Remember to Forget,” “I’ll Never Let You Go,” “I Love You Because,” “Tryin’ to Get to You,” “Blue Moon,” “Just Because” and a second, longer version of “I Love You Because.” The longest song on the album is the second version of “I Love You Because” (3:25) and the shortest song is “That’s All Right (Mama)” (1:57). Interestingly, Elvis didn’t write any of these songs.

I listened to this old album from start to finish last Sunday afternoon, and I thought it was great. It’s no wonder why it is so highly regarded and was ranked so highly by Rolling Stone. I had heard a couple of the songs on the album (“That’s All Right” and “Blue Moon”), but the others were all new to me.

I actually had a hard time finding a copy of this album to listen to. I couldn’t find a CD version of it in any of the usual places that I look for music, so I turned to the internet. If you go to YouTube and type in “Elvis Presley The Sun Sessions complete album,” you’ll get a ton of results. I selected the one that mostly closely matched the album’s official run time of 39:47.

Now that I’ve listened to “The Sun Sessions,” I’m left wanting to listen to the other Elvis albums on Rolling Stone’s list of “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” Those albums (and their ranking on Rolling Stone’s list) included 1956’s “Elvis Presley” (No. 56) and 1969’s “From Elvis in Memphis” (No. 190). If those albums are as good as “The Sun Sessions,” then I’ve got a lot to look forward to.

In the end, how many of you have listened to Elvis Presley’s “The Sun Sessions”? What did you think about it? Which of Elvis’ other albums would you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below.

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