March 08, 1999 12:00 PM

Elvis Presley (RCA)

Until the summer of 1953, when an 18-year-old Elvis first walked into Sam Phillips’s Memphis Recording Service, the studio’s motto (“We Record Any Thing—Any Where—Any Time”) had been a beacon only to black musicians in segregated Memphis. And so, this collection of Elvis’s entire output on Sun Records is a doubly historic collection that marks the arrival of the rock King and a vital bridge across pop music’s racial divide. The first of the album’s two discs includes 18 polished tunes released by Sun in the two years before Elvis left the label in 1955. Incandescent as those tracks are, disc two’s collection of unreleased tracks and outtakes is the real marvel. From the scratchy sound of Elvis’s first-ever recording—”My Happiness,” a soggy 1940s pop song—to the liberating, hip-shaking glory of his debut single, “That’s All Right,” we are privy to the first cries of a new creation.

Bottom Line: History you can dance to

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