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Elvis Presley -- Rock, Country, Inspirational, R&B, Movies, Live CD reviews

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The cover of

The cover of "Elvis Live"

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The Bottom Line

A rabid Elvis fan with lots of time and complete access to the recordings of the King might assemble more complete, definitive overviews of Presley's genre-hopping and multimedia prowess, but for single-disc CDs, these six releases are effective -- just not indispensible.
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Pros

  • As single-disc compilations of Elvis material go, these are fairly solid.
  • The packaging is stylish if not extensive.
  • Each CD explores its genre with a fair amount of success.

Cons

  • These aren't the last word in any of these genres, nor were they designed to be.
  • Some of these releases stretch a bit too much in order to fit their theme.

Description

  • Single disc
  • Compilation
  • Studio/live
  • 2006
  • Greatest hits

Guide Review - Elvis Presley -- Rock, Country, Inspirational, R&B, Movies, Live CD reviews

Trying to fathom the depth of Elvis Presley's talent and the scope of his artistic vision is like the old story of the blind men describing the elephant -- everyone confuses the parts with the whole. Sony BMG had a great idea in creating six "genre" CDs (three released in March, three in August) that would spotlight the King's effectiveness as a rocker, R&B purist, inspirational vocalist, country crooner, live performer and singing movie star. BMG being what it is, these releases are far from definitive, but they all work moderately well, if you're just looking for full single-disc comps of a certain style.

Most of these areas, especially country and inspirational, have been covered more extensively in other multidisc releases, and even some of the single CDs suffer in comparison to what's already out there. Try Elvis: Ultimate Gospel (2004), Great Country Songs, and The Definitive Rock and Roll Album (1990) -- if you can find them -- for better takes on those genres. And R&B doesn't make any better of a case for Elvis as a rhythm and blues singer than similar, earlier efforts (simply because Elvis' take on the blues was, more often than not, decidedly non-urban). That leaves the Movies and Live CDs, and both, especially the latter, could arguably be called the best available samplers out there, even if both miss critical performances. In the end, you can delight an Elvis fan with any of these CDs, but only one not interested in diving very deep into his catalog.

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