“Classic Albums – Elvis Presley: Elvis Presley” is a “must see”
for Elvis fans. It was released in 2001 by Eagle Eye
Entertainment, as a part of this continuing series.
While watching this DVD, it occurred to me that an
equal amount of footage appears to be devoted to Elvis’
collaborations with Sam Phillips (founder of Sun Records),
as to the featured album. The self-titled disc, “Elvis Presley,”
was released by RCA in 1956, and Phillips was extensively
interviewed, describing how these sessions were recorded.
It was noted that Phillips provided more input for the Sun
Records sessions than Presley’s producer, Steve Sholes,
who basically let Elvis “do what he did best.” Additional
recollections were provided by guitarist Scotty Moore
and drummer D.J. Fontana.
The negotiations behind Colonel Tom Parker’s “purchase” of
Presley’s contract for RCA were also explained in detail. Other
notable contributors to this documentary included disc jockey
Tom Perryman, biographer Peter Guralnick and one of
Presley’s girlfriends from the 1950’s.
This Classic Albums documentary differed from others in the
series in that there were no interviews at the mixing console.
During the mid 1950’s, music was recorded “live” in the studio,
with minimal mixing. Actually, there was no “mixing,” per se.
In my opinion, the results said a lot for “keeping things simple,”
because the spontaneous results sounded fantastic. Keith
Richards of the Rolling Stones was also interviewed for this film,
and he made a similar observation.
There’s a lot of footage from this era included on the disc,
ranging from Elvis Presley concerts to childhood family photos.
The African-American musicians he observed on Beale Street
in Memphis considerably influenced Elvis. He also absorbed
other genres, including Country music, and made this
combination of styles his own. As mentioned in the film—Elvis
didn’t start a revolution; he galvanized one. This 49-minute
documentary is supplemented with roughly 39 minutes of bonus
interviews with the aforementioned contributors. It’s an
outstanding installment in the Classic Albums series.