Elvis’ Golden Records was released May 21, 1958. It became one of the biggest selling albums of his career with sales in excess of 6,000,000 copies.
During the 1950s Elvis would release singles that were not contained on his studio albums. These little 7-inch 45’s were an important ingredient in his popularity as their constant radio airplay kept him in the public eye. When you think of the songs of Elvis Presley, many of them were singles and not album tracks.
The original vinyl release contained 14 tracks, and nine of them were songs that had topped the singles charts. Some people consider this release to have been the first greatest hits album. I have no proof that it was actually the first album of its type, but it was certainly a very early best of compilation.
The history of American rock ‘n’ roll flows through this album. “Hound Dog,” “All Shook Up,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Too Much,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear,” “Love Me Tender,” and “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You” are all important ingredients in the evolution of not only rock ‘n’ roll but in the development of American music.
Elvis Presley’s material has been released in many forms and configurations down through the years. There have been massive box sets and cheap budget releases. While the songs contained on Elvis’ Golden Records have probably been reissued close to one hundred times a piece, there is a lot to be said for this first compilation. It cuts to the chase as it presents many of his most important and memorable songs from the early part of his career. You do not have to wade through a lot of extra or miscellaneous material to get to his best.
The album was reissued during 1997 with six bonus tracks. Three of his Sun Label releases, “That’s All Right,” “Baby Let’s Play House,” and “Mystery Train” were added along with “Blue Suede Shoes,” which made an excellent album even better.
If you want a quick tour of the Elvis of the 1950s, this album is the place to start. An essential release for any rock collection.