ELVIS PRESLEY Sunrise (1999)

Sunrise (1999)
The Man Who Would Be King

There were others that tinkered with the concept, and traces of the root DNA can be found long before 1954, but for all intents and purposes, this is where rock and roll really began. Elvis Presley fused a few disparate genres (country, gospel and R&B), added a distinctive, sneering attitude like no one before him, and sparked a bloodless revolution that still rages today, albeit… watered down by commerce to the point of being virtually unrecognizable. This 1999 compilation pulls together all of Presley’s Sun masters from 1954-55, including six poorly recorded 1955 live tracks (actually, it was all live) and two June, 1953 recordings (“My Happiness” & “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin”) made when Elvis first walked into Sam Phillips’ recording studio just to hear what he would sound like on tape. True genius, it has been said, doesn’t know it… and isn’t even trying. Which explains why it would take the entire planet to confirm the genius of Elvis’ vision. These days, it’s easy to mock what Elvis eventually became… but, just like today, it’s not so easy to change the world. This is what a truck-driving hillbilly from Mississippi pulled off in the mid-50s. What have you done lately?

That’s All Right
Blue Moon Of Kentucky
Good Rockin‘ Tonight
I Don’t Care If The Sun Don’t Shine
Milkcow Blues Boogie
You’re A Heartbreaker
Baby Let’s Play House
I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone
I Forgot To Remember To Forget
Mystery Train
I Love You Because
Harbor Lights
Blue Moon
Tomorrow Night
I’ll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin‘)
Just Because
I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone (Slow Version)
Trying To Get To You

My Happiness
That’s When Your Heartaches Begin
I’ll Never Stand In Your Way
It Wouldn’t Be The Same Without You
I Love You Because (Alternate Take)
That’s All Right (Alternate Take)
Blue Moon Of Kentucky (Alternate Take)
Blue Moon (Alternate Take)
I’ll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin‘) (Alternate Take)
I Don’t Care If The Sun Don’t Shine (Alternate Take)
I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone (Slow Version) (Alternate Take)
Fool, Fool, Fool
Shake, Rattle & Roll
I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone (Live)
That’s All Right
Money Honey (Live)
Tweedlee Dee (Live)
I Don’t Care If The Sun Don’t Shine (Live)
Hearts Of Stone (Live)


  • JR Heat Warp
    September 25, 2009 - 18:04 | Permalink

    Fantastic writeup, Willard. Definitely one of your best. Thanks for the share.

  • Capt. Willard
    September 25, 2009 - 18:19 | Permalink

    Many thanks JR. We've been missing you lately at The Heat Warps and are glad to see you're active again.

  • Art Ducko
    September 25, 2009 - 20:25 | Permalink

    Yep, these sides are the Rosetta Stone of rock & roll. Not bad for a fellow from Tupelo. Anyone who's at all interested in modern music should visit Sun Studios to see where it all began. You'll get goosebumps.

  • Capt. Willard
    September 25, 2009 - 20:30 | Permalink

    Oops… Mississippi. Thanks for the reminder PJ.

  • Art Ducko
    September 25, 2009 - 20:58 | Permalink

    No, you're still right, Willard. Elvis pulled it all off in Memphis. That's the melting pot from which he sprang. He was born in Tupelo, but he always claimed Memphis as his true home.

  • Capt. Willard
    September 25, 2009 - 21:15 | Permalink

    Still needed to change a few words. Thanks.

  • lemonflag
    September 25, 2009 - 23:20 | Permalink

    Thanks for this.

  • Miles
    September 25, 2009 - 23:51 | Permalink

    A bloodless revolution indeed! Nice writing here, Willard. And a great share too! Elvis and the Sun sessions are certainly a milestone in contempory music, as were most Sun recordings. The Sam Phillips studios should have landmark status, if they don't already. I've never visited (in fact, is the building still standing? We Americans are so quick to plow over all traces of the past), but I have been to Graceland. It's remakable what one can do with a million dollars at Woolworth's.

  • Anonymous
    September 26, 2009 - 01:17 | Permalink

    Two thoughts:

    I don't know if it was a bloodless revolution. Think about the late 1960's across America and Europe much if it fueled by the soundtrack of Rock & Roll. Also think of the Soviet Union falling in 1990 fueled partially by Russian youth wanting the freedom promised by R & R.

    Finally at least for me to hear Elvis sing to us from on high the mountain in the mid 1950's and how he finished his career, it's difficult not to be both broken hearted and angry with what a pathetic slug the King ended up as.


  • Art Ducko
    September 26, 2009 - 04:07 | Permalink

    I think John Lennon got it right when he said that Elvis died when he went into the army. He was never the same after that. The music & especially the movies could be awful. You can thank the Colonel for a lot of these so-called career moves, but I think Elvis was just bored with it all by then. He didn't pull out of his slump until the '68 comeback, but it only led to his long, slow decline into the Vegas years. Elvis lost the spark along the way, & never really got it back, but he drew the map for all to follow.

  • Capt. Willard
    September 27, 2009 - 01:50 | Permalink

    Thanks Miles,
    I think Sun actually is a landmark. I visited there sometime in the mid 90s, took a few pics and tried to scrap some DNA off the walls for cloning purposes. Some RCA laywers with dark glasses and stun guys just materialized out of the walls and before I knew it, I woke up outside on a park bench, feeding the birds and feeling like a cherry sno-cone was a capital idea.

  • Art Ducko
    September 27, 2009 - 07:32 | Permalink

    I agree with . "Elvis 56" is a great album. Besides the Sun material, this was probably his greatest creative period. And corny as it sounds, a trip to Graceland is an amazingly moving experience once you get past the theme park aspect. This is where the man LIVED & it's quite a trip to wander through his home. I've been through twice & have always felt like I understood Elvis a little better each time. And Willard, if you can get past security, upstairs is where all the good DNA is.

  • Chance
    September 28, 2009 - 01:20 | Permalink

    Got this already, but yeah, great post. I'd love to get to Graceland someday, not so much to see the house but to actually stand before the grave. That would be surreal. Like anyone else, I love the Elvis of the fifties, but don't ever underestimate the later stuff. A substantial case could be made for the '68-71 period being his greatest years. Me, I go for the '68 Special, the greatest rock singing ever. Period. That, my friends, is shock and awe. And then there's the magnificent American Sound sessions of '69. As Springsteen said, "That Elvis, man, he is all there is. He wrote the book."

  • Hugo
    September 29, 2009 - 06:31 | Permalink

    Rosetta Stone indeed. Much gratitude Willard. You keep this house rockin'.

  • Joseph "Jon" Lanthier
    September 29, 2009 - 21:05 | Permalink

    Thanks for these absolutely essential recordings, Willard (I've got a few Sun boxes but not the full Elvis set, so it's appreciated). And thanks, too, for making me feel like shit for not having altered the course of music and/or popular culture! Seriously though, you certainly hit the unique "event" of Elvis on the head in your blurb, which is saying something given the wealth of literature on that hillbilly kid.

  • chinaski
    October 2, 2009 - 19:51 | Permalink

    Oh Yes! Without theses recordings we would still be crawling around in our musical diapers. The King will not be forgotten…and John Lennon must surely have missed the memphis sessions in 1969, because those recordings are another slice of heaven (syrupy strings aside).

    Thx Mr. Willard

  • Capt. Willard
    October 2, 2009 - 20:45 | Permalink

    Thanks for the comments. I dunno, did Lennon say that before '69 or after?

    Don't forget… when denigrating The Vegas Years (which I don't defend), at the time it was the most successful rebirth in show biz history (except Sinatra's, maybe). It made Presley a superstar. Unfortunately, it has as much to do with R&R as his movies did. We still love him, though. He shot up a few TVs, liked girls in their underwear and did too many drugs. For the most famous guy on Earth, that's not so shameful a legacy. Imagine yourself with that much power. Dressing up like Batman and getting a drug shield from President Nixon seems rather inventive to me.

  • Capt. Willard
    November 11, 2009 - 01:43 | Permalink

    Search HERE

  • AussieJohn
    December 12, 2009 - 05:45 | Permalink

    I'm just about to download and give these a whirl as I haven't heard most of them in ages.
    As another commenter said – don't forget the later stuff too.
    As a kid I spent ages looking at the "His Latest Flame"/"Little Sister" single trying to find the words "This is the greatest record ever to have been released" which I'm sure should have been on there somewhere.

  • sonris
    January 4, 2010 - 20:38 | Permalink

    Thanks a lot for this wonderful Elvis album

  • Paolo Meccano
    May 9, 2010 - 13:08 | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing, much appreciated.

  • cjonesplay
    March 1, 2011 - 19:20 | Permalink

    I have been to Memphis and seen Graceland and Sun. These places are Mecca for the rock and roll disciple. Standing in front of Elvis's grave site with his mother, father, grandmother, and stillborn twin brother Jesse next to him was one of the most moving experiences of my life, and I realized that through all of his experiences he truly was the endearing country boy that walked into Sun on a whim. By the way, you can still hold the mic that Elvis held and stand on the spot where he stood when he sang "That's All Right" at Sun. They've kept the original linoleum on the floor and particle board on the concrete walls. Truly a holy spot if there ever was one. Dylan is said to have walked in there one day and kissed the floor where Elvis stood, only to promptly walk right out again. When the tour guide followed him to ask why he did that, he simply replied, "Everybody's got their heroes". Fuck the Rock n' Roll HOF, go to Memphis and eat at Interstate BBQ!

    • GuitarPicker68
      October 20, 2011 - 12:00 | Permalink

      A little late to the conversation, but not only is Sun studios still open as a museum, it’s still a working recording studio. A friend’s band recorded their debut there a few years ago.

  • grifftrain
    December 2, 2011 - 17:20 | Permalink

    thank you for the great Elvis post. i have to chime in here. You can say what you will about Elvis’ slow decline in the 70s into a drug induced haze, but to me one thing remains clear. He never lost his voice. i have a few bootleg shows from the mid seventies and you can tell by the in between song banter that Elvis was a bit out of it. But i dont think the music suffered. his band was excellent, kind of had a country twang to it, and Elvis voice still sounded great. two latter day hits, Burning Love and Suspicious minds have become two of my favorite tracks. the man had a strange lifestyle at the end of his life, but I hate the fact that he has basically become a punchline for people. The man was the King of rock n roll and your post proves that.

    • Willard
      December 2, 2011 - 18:57 | Permalink

      I noticed that in that movie that came out after his death. They had a live segment and he was blubbering through the spoken word passages of “Are You Lonesome Tonight.” Could barely say a sentence straight without flubbing it up completely. He ends the monologue with “aw, the hell with it.” But, when he went back to the singing, his voice was flawless.

  • Anonymous
    May 30, 2013 - 14:41 | Permalink

    Hi. The links appear to gone unfortunately. Any chance you could post again? Thanks.

    • Willard
      May 30, 2013 - 14:44 | Permalink

      New links up, thanks.

  • Anonymous
    May 31, 2013 - 12:59 | Permalink

    Thanks for reposting! Much appreciated. Love this period of his stuff.

    • Willard
      May 31, 2013 - 13:08 | Permalink

      Don’t miss our latest wormhole, then. Thanks.

  • Bob Mac
    August 11, 2013 - 01:39 | Permalink

    Many thanks for reposting this classic Willard. As you point out so many today think of Elvis in his later period when his health and figure were ruined through excess. But these mid-50s Sun sessions show us the sexy young blues-singing Mississippi boy who turned the music world upside down.

  • Sgt Pepper
    April 30, 2015 - 07:22 | Permalink

    Jack White recently bought the acetate for Elvis first recording at Sun Studios for a reported $300,000. There’s a video of Jack getting the song digitized here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvtSMMaYUug There’s plans to remaster it and release it on a 7″ Wonder though if he’ll get any opposition from Sony/BMG, since they own the rights to EP’s music. Although maybe ‘My Happiness’ has fallen into public domain since it was recorded in 1953 and since in a sense he owns the ‘master’ he has the right to do what he wants with the song.

    • Willard
      April 30, 2015 - 09:55 | Permalink

      Interesting question.

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