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Elvis R&B

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Album Review

The back cover of Elvis R&B — one of six thematic Elvis comps released during 2006 — states that this compilation could very well be called Presley's personal playlist, since he loved R&B most out of all music. This is true, since Elvis did indeed love R&B, but that doesn't mean that the 20 tracks on Elvis R&B are all R&B, even when they're R&B covers. As any fan, either of Elvis or rock & roll, knows, part of the King's genius was that he mixed up genres, drawing from country, blues, R&B, and pop to create rock & roll — and even if the songs hailed from a particular genre, they didn't necessarily sound like they belonged to that genre once Elvis was through with them; you could hear the roots of Roy Brown's "Good Rockin' Tonight" on Presley's version, but it doesn't sound like R&B, it sounds like rock & roll. And that's what makes Elvis R&B a bit of an odd listen: it veers from rockabilly and rock & roll covers of R&B and blues songs from Elvis' Sun sessions to late-'50s and '60s hard-driving and soulful R&B, which really does sound more like R&B. It's hard to say that "Baby, Let's Play House" or "Mystery Train" shouldn't be here, but when put next to "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" or "Big Boss Man" or "Reconsider Baby," they don't sound like R&B; they sound like rock & roll (this is also true of "When It Rains, It Really Pours" and "Trying to Get to You," which may have gospel and vocal harmony roots, but don't fit the R&B theme). Even if this makes for a slightly disconcerting listening experience, it doesn't make for a bad one, since every one of these songs is excellent, and hearing them together does result in a good time. It's just in terms of following the theme, R&B is one of the more scattered selections in the 2006 series of thematic comps.


Born: 08 January 1935 in Tupelo, MS

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s

Elvis Presley may be the single most important figure in American 20th century popular music. Not necessarily the best, and certainly not the most consistent. But no one could argue with the fact that he was the musician most responsible for popularizing rock & roll on an international level. Viewed in cold sales figures, his impact was phenomenal. Dozens upon dozens of international smashes from the mid-'50s to the mid-'70s, as well as the steady sales of his catalog and reissues since his death...
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