Unless you're the type who attends candlelight vigils at Graceland, this is all the Elvis you'll ever need: Good Rockin' Tonight, four CDs, 100 songs that range from his first self-financed demo “My Happiness” from 1953 to Presley's final live and home recordings shortly before his death on a toilet seat on Aug. 16, 1977. The deluxe package, with the requisite booklet, has been released in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of Presley's birth.
I feel compelled to say up front that, as a child of the Beatles, I always took in Presley from a certain remove, more in admiration of his contributions than a genuine love for his music. That hasn't changed after close scrutiny of Good Rockin' Tonight, but my overall appreciation of him as an artist, and especially as a singer, has increased.
It hardly needs to be said, but Disc 1 is the prize here. It contains all of Presley's Sun singles and the best of his RCA sides: “That's All Right,” “Good Rockin' Tonight,” “Mystery Train,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Hound Dog,” “Don't Be Cruel,” “Love Me Tender,” “All Shook Up,” “Jailhouse Rock” and the rest. (The latter contains what I presume is an unintentional slice of homoerotica: “Number 47 said to Number 3 / You're the cutest jailbird I ever did see/ I sure would be delighted with your company/ Come on and do the jailhouse rock with me.” Hilarious).