Published 2024-07-07 06:00

Despite a long recording career that saw him cut at top studios in New York, Nashville and Hollywood, Elvis Presley’s most uniquely powerful work was captured in his hometown of Memphis. On August 9th, 2024, RCA Records and Legacy Recordings will celebrate that body of work with a new Elvis box set titled “Memphis”. The 5 CD set, which will also be released digitally and in a pared down 2 LP vinyl package, marks the first fully comprehensive collection of the recordings Presley made in Bluff City.

Coinciding with the 70th anniversary of Presley’s 1st sessions at Sun Records in 1954, "Memphis" includes 111 tracks spanning his recordings in the city, with 88 of those tracks newly remixed by local Grammy winning engineer and producer Matt Ross Spang at his Crosstown studio, Southern Grooves. The deluxe package also features liner notes from fellow Grammy winner and Memphis author and essayist Robert Gordon.

Produced by noted Elvis archivist MIkael Ernst Jørgensen, the box set chronicles Presley’s 1954 and 1955 sessions at Sun, his comeback at American Sound studios in 1969, the music he made at Stax Records in 1973, live recordings from a 1974 show at the Mid South Coliseum, and a final set of songs cut in the Jungle Room of his Graceland home in 1976, a year before his passing.

Aside from the iconic Sun recordings, all the tracks on "Memphis" were newly mixed by Ross Spang, removing overdubbed strings, horns and additional backing vocals. As Jørgensen notes, this provides a unique fly on the wall’ glimpse of what it sounded like to Elvis, while he was recording all these songs with the band.” A version of “Polk Salad Annie,” from the 1974 Mid-South Coliseum show, has been released, offering the first preview of the set.

As the announcement of the project notes, these new intimate mixes offer a variety of musical revelations, from Elvis' intuitive chemistry with The Memphis Boys at American, to the subtle way he builds his vocal phrasing around his backing singers in the Stax sessions, or the palpable joy he brings to the innuendo filled lyrics of “Way Down” in the Jungle Room.

In his new essay for the package, Gordon writes: “With these recordings on 'Memphis', we are standing next to Elvis inside the recording studio, us and the basic band, hearing what he’s hearing. The strings haven’t been booked, horns are not yet on stand by, the background vocalists are at home watching TV. What we hear is the foundation onto which the hits were built, the basic tracks that were in the studio with Elvis. And nothing more. We’re hearing a beautifully mixed version of what Elvis was hearing in his headphones when he was singing”.