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Black & White

Black & White Elvis

A 2-CD set compiled by Alex Jay; released on Moonbeam Classics MBCC00002

I long have had an interest in the roots of Elvis’ music. Thanks to Elvis’ broad musical styles, the study of his music opens up many doorways into the origins and influences upon modern music.

Several collections of songs purporting to be the original versions of those recorded by Elvis have been released. None ever managed to provide the original versions and many repeated these mistakes.

”Black & White Elvis,” a double-CD collection released by Mood Music in their Mood Classics series, does not present original versions of the forty-eight tracks that make up the set. Instead, Alex Jay, presents older versions of songs later recorded by Elvis and uses them to demonstrate the influences and impressions to which Elvis was exposed.

Not all of the numbers were, later recorded by Elvis himself. The set is presented in a nicely understated and appropriate black-and-white package, with a simple cover design and two CD insert booklets. The two CD’s contain a fine selection of numbers from the black and white sides of the divide that we seem to find so important. The first CD contains the ”black” numbers, mostly Blues and early Rock’n’Roll, while the second CD is ”white” with predominantly Country and Pop tunes.

Before Elvis, of course, music was very much segregated Black and White.

Elvis helped to stir things up and break down such barriers.

Many of the forty-eight tracks are familiar to Elvis fans and have been released on similar compilations. A few however, are pleasant surprises. These include Wee Bea Booze’s version of ”See See Rider,” Roy Brown’s original version of ”Good Rockin’ Tonight, Marlene Dietrich’s ”Muß I Denn” (not the original, but unusual enough), and ”It Is No Secret” by The Blackwood Brothers, one of Elvis’s favourite groups. One number in the set that was not recorded by Elvis is ”Blues Stay Away From Me” by the Delmore Brothers.
Although Elvis did not record the song, most fans are probably aware of the slow, blues-like version of ”I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone” that Elvis made at Sun. That version contains a guitar figure which comes indirectly from this recording of ”Blues Stay Away From Me” and is just one of the many demonstrations of the Delmore Brothers’ great influence in the development of early Rock and Rockabilly.

As a collection of music that might have influenced Elvis, this is an excellent set. ”Black & White” offers at least a suggestion of the music that was available on the radio which Elvis perhaps heard.

CD1: Elvis Black Tracks: 01. That’s All Right – Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, 02. Good Rockin’ Tonight – Roy Brown, 03. Hound Dog – Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, 04. Take My Hand Precious Lord – Mahalia Jackson, 05. Lawdy Miss Clawdy – Lloyd Price, 06. Money Honey – Clyde McPhatter/Drifters, 07. Mystery Train – Junior Parker, 08. Crying in the Chapel – Orioles, 09. Tomorrow Night – Lonnie Johnson, 10. Joshua Fit the Battle – Golden Gate Quartet, 11. So Glad You’re Mine – Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, 12. Stack O’Lee Blues – Mississippi John Hurt, 13. I Need You So – Ivory Joe Hunter, 14. My Happiness – Ella Fitzgerald, 15. Milk Cow Blues – Kokomo Arnold, 16. See See Rider – Wee Bea Booze 17. Such A Night – Clyde McPhatter/Drifters 18. Cotton Field – Leadbelly, 19. That’s When Your Heartaches Begin – Ink Spots, 20. I Feel So Bad – Chuck Willis, 21. My Baby Left Me – Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, 22. Shake, Rattle and Roll – Big Joe Turner, 23. Fool, Fool, Fool – Clovers, 24. Swing Down Sweet Chariot – Golden Gate Quartet

CD2 Elvis White Tracks: 01. Blue Moon of Kentucky – Bill Monroe & The Blue Grass Boys, 02. I’m Movin’ On – Hank Snow, 03. Faded Love – Bob Wills& The Texas Playboys, 04. Your Cheatin’ Heart – Hank Williams, 05. There’s No Tomorrow – Tony Martin, 06. Just Because – Shelton Brothers, 07. Blueberry Hill – Gene Autry, 08. Frankie and Johnny – Jimmie Rodgers, 09. Old Shep – Red Fole, 10. I’ll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin’) – Jimmy Wakely, 11. Love Letters – Dick Haymes, 12. I’ll Hold You in My Heart (Till I Can Hold You in My Arms) – Eddy Arnold, 13. Muss I Denn – Marlene Dietrich, 14. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry – Hank Williams, 15. When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again – Wiley Walker and Gene Sullivan, 16. I Love You Because – Leon Payne, 17. (Now and Then There’s A) Fool Such As I – Hank Snow, 18. Harbour Lights – Sammy Kaye & Don Cornell, 19. It Is No Secret – Blackwood Brothers, 20. I Don’t Care If the Sun Don’t Shine – Dean Martin, 21. It’s A Sin – Eddy Arnold, 22. Have I Told You Lately That I Love You – Gene Autry, 23. Blues Stay Away From Me – Delmore Brothers, 24. You’ll Never Walk Alone – Judy Garland

Jim Porter

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