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    Elvis Presley

    #1 Hit Singles Collection: Limited Edition Vinyl Box Set

    Elvis Presley - #1 Hit Singles Collection: Limited Edition Vinyl Box Set

    2001

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    All Music Guide Review

    Almost what the title promises, this is a snazzy wooden box that reproduces 18 (not 23) of Elvis Presley's original sleeves from his number one singles. Just for increased uniqueness (and also so non-collectors won't confuse them with the real thing), they are all pressed on red vinyl. The package also includes a small poster featuring pictures of them all. For the true Elvis fan, the set includes five of his earliest singles for Sun from 1954 and 1955 (that did not go to the top of the charts), and for those who have only seen these in books, it's a thrill to actually hold them in your hand. All the 45s come complete with the original B-sides, and most interestingly, distinct front and back covers, when that was how they were initially released. Seven of the records feature different shots, the most significant is "Teddy Bear"/"Loving You," where Presley is holding the titular stuffed animal on one side and a guitar on the other. Oddly, "Hound Dog!" (note the exclamation point that is not generally associated with the song's title) shows Presley singing the song to the Bassett hound on the Steve Allen TV show, one of the more embarrassing events in Presley's early career, so an unusual choice for a cover. The flip has a blurry black-and-white shot that looks like it was clipped from a newspaper and enlarged. Unfortunately, many of the reproductions are obviously taken from substandard sources, with "Blue Christmas" even sporting a black fingerprint smudge that quite obviously was not on the original shot. Musically, you don't need to hear how essential these songs are, not only to Elvis' career but to the maturing of rock & roll through the mid-'50s to the early '60s. If you own a jukebox, this becomes more than just a novelty set to display on your shelf, but for most people, it's exciting to hold even reproductions of these pieces of musical history up close and personal. The sleeves themselves are classic and explain Presley's early story almost as well as the music they wrap themselves around. ~ Hal Horowitz, Rovi

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