Elvis: The Hillbilly Cat

Released by QED in July 1996. Liner notes.

Elvis: The Hillbilly Cat

1954 was a landmark year for music. Rock ‘n’ roll was born, and Elvis Presley’s career started to inch forward in the summer of that year when, on August 7, Billboard magazine called him a “strong new talent”. Three days later, he made a hometown appearance at a show in the Overton Park Bandshell. Then on September 9, he played the opening of Katz Drugstore in downtown Memphis before going into the studio to record Good Rockin’ Tonight. The record was released as Elvis, Scotty Moore and Bill Black played Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry show. At the end of their set, the talent director of the show told Elvis that he should stick to driving a truck. Elvis never played the Opry again.

Instead he went over the the competition, playing his first ever appearance on the Louisiana Hayride on October 16 performing That’s All Right and Blue Moon of Kentucky. Those performances are released here in a collection of what are known as Elvis’s first ever live recordings.

The other selections come from the now famous Eagle’s Hall concert which took place in Houston, Texas on 19 March 1955, another Louisiana Hayride appearance on 6 August 1955, and a concert performance at Little Rock Arkansas on 16 May 1956, all providing a partial history of Presley’s rise to fame with live versions of songs from his time with Sun Records, and early recordings with RCA.

It is an arguable point, but without the contents of this CD, many of us would not realise the true impact that Elvis Presley had on his early audiences. Today, that may seem an exaggeration, but in 1954, his performance of suggestive pelvic movements was seen as outrageous, No one had ever seen anything like it before. That is why this recording is the most important and historical document, in popular music, and of Elvis Presley, aka The Hillbilly Cat.