|Playing With Fire, Elvis Presley
TKO Magnum Force, U.K.
Licensed from Music Mill Entertainment, issued in the USA as "Good Rockin' Tonight, The Evolution of Elvis Presley, The Complete Louisiana Hayride Archive", TKO Magnum has released two albums containing Elvis' complete Louisiana Hayride archives. The first one, titled "Playing With Fire" is a double CD which is beautifully, and very extensively, narrated by veteran Louisiana Hayride announcer Frank Page. The second album is a single CD titled "The Hillbilly Cat" which contains only the music. Having listened to Frank Page's narration, I think you should go for the complete package. Frank is an excellent story teller, and I just know that you will greatly enjoy his 40 minute "radio play". Here's what RootsWorld wrote about this fabulous release:
Like the stars that came before him, Hank Williams, Kitty Wells, the Wilburn Brothers, Webb Pierce, Jim Reeves and others, the Louisiana Hayride radio program played an important part in Elvis Presley's rise to fame. In the two years, 1954 to 1956, he performed on the Shreveport, LA Hayride program, he went from being a quiet and unsure artist to the savagely raw phenomena known for his electrifying hip and leg gyrations. This double-disc collection will likely delight the big 'E' junkie who has filled his double-wide trailer with velveteen murals and souvenir bourbon bottles adorned with the image of the King himself. No doubt it will even please the casual fan as those pivotal years are presented here for the first time.
But as much as the listener can hear the growing confidence with each passing performance, this is not meant to be a music-only affair. Rather, it's more a Presley documentary. Emcee Frank Page, who introduced Elvis at his Louisiana Hayride shows, narrates the story starting with the arrival of the one-time trucker and ending with the final Hayride concert where you hear more of the screaming teenage girls than of Elvis. Since the sound quality is not studio caliber, which is understandable given the primitive equipment and the age of the tapes, having Page provide the commentary makes good sense. Unless you are a complete Elvis savant, this information comes packed to the rafters. In between narrative segments, the cuts are all Elvis classics. Disc one starts with Presley's first hit, "That's All Right Mama" followed by Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky" that christened his first Hayride appearance. Songs from two more January, 1955 performances include the aforementioned as well as "Tweedle Dee," "Money, Honey" and "I Don't Care if the Sun Don't Shine."
Disc two focuses on the Memphis Flash's unstoppable ride to stardom and covers how Colonel Tom Parker bought out the remaining Hayride contract for a hefty sum of $10,000. Songs include "Good Rockin' Tonight," "I Got a Woman," I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone," "Baby, Let's Play House" and "Maybellene." "Love Me Tender" And "Hound Dog" round out the disc. Page keeps his narrative insightful and objective. He tells it like it was without appearing as some frighteningly sick, vicarious Elvis worshipper. (Hell, he has probably never even Elvis after he died.) The liner notes reinforce Page's account while all song titles include the date of their recordings. By the second disc's end, you will likely walk away with a deeper appreciation of Presley, the man that altered the course of American music forever.
Reviewed by Dan Willging for RootsWorld:
Rockabilly Hall of Fame:
Louisiana Hayride History:
Official Elvis Presley Website:
TKO Magnum Music Ltd.