April 02, 1984 12:00 PM

Elvis Presley

“We’re going to bring out some Memphis flash now—Elvis Presley by name,” Horace Logan, manager of the Louisiana Hayride radio program, told his listeners in late 1955. A moment later he asked Presley how he was “gittin’ along,” and the 20-year-old rockabilly wonder quipped, “I’m, ahh, sick, sober and sorry.” Well, that’s not the way he sounded when he started to sing. On each of the five songs on this mini LP, Elvis brims with headlong, pent-up energy and an unaffected, unexaggerated sensuality. In contrast to the sluggishness that often afflicted him later, Presley’s voice here darts and flies: It is a deep, masculine but vibrant and almost weightless sound. Marshall Sehonn, a New Orleans-based entrepreneur, acquired these tapes from the owner of the Hayride and arranged with RCA for their release. Mastered from the original discs, the sound on the album is vivid and clear. Four of the songs date from 1955: Baby, Let’s Play House (mistitled I Wanna Play House With You on the LP), That’s All Right, Chuck Berry’s then brand-new Maybellene and Tweedle Dee, which had been a recent hit for both LaVern Baker and Georgia Gibbs. The last two have never appeared on any previous Presley album. His rendition of Tweedle Dee, a shiveringly delicious little ditty, is startling in its self-assurance and eager sexiness. The album closes, fittingly enough, with an equally remarkable treatment of Leiber and Stoller’s Hound Dog, from late in 1956 (after Presley’s epoch-making appearance on Ed Sullivan’s TV show). Presley roars through the song, then, braving a tidal wave of delirious shrieking from the audience, he uncorks the whole thing one more time at a toyingly slow, bump-and-grind tempo. The rendition was a piece of brilliant, daring showmanship, and it slew ’em. (The Music Works, distributed by Jem, P.O. Box 362, S. Plainfield, N.J. 07080)

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