The 50 Greatest Elvis Presley Albums of All Time (Part 4)

This is Part 4 of a countdown of Elvis Presley’s best albums. Read Part 3.

To be eligible for consideration, a release had to consist of no more than two discs (CDs/records), contain at least one-third previously unreleased content (not including singles and Extended Plays), and be from an official label. Albums were judged solely on their “new” material, not on any reissued content.

Elvis has provided much of the soundtrack to my life thus far. From hundreds of his albums, I have narrowed down the 50 best. The countdown now continues at #20.


#20 His Hand In Mine
Recorded: 1960 | Nashville
Released: 1960 (RCA)
Essential Song: “Working On The Building”
What Makes It Great: Elvis’ first full-length gospel album is a beautiful collection of songs.

#19 From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee
Recorded: 1976 | Memphis
Released: 1976 (RCA)
Essential Song: “For The Heart”
What Makes It Great: “Hurt” establishes the tone of this album right from the start. Recorded at Graceland, From Elvis Presley Boulevard is no doubt his most thematically depressing album, but it is also his most introspective.

#18 One Night In Vegas
Recorded: 1970 | Las Vegas
Released: 2001 (FTD)
Essential Song: “Mystery Train/Tiger Man” – I know I choose various live performance of this again and again, but Elvis really tore this one up in 1969 and 1970
What Makes It Great: This release captures the August 10, 1970, Opening Show from the Las Vegas engagement documented by MGM’s Elvis: That’s The Way It Is – Elvis at his best as a live performer and showman. A few rehearsal tracks from the time of the documentary are also included as bonuses.

#17 For LP Fans Only
Recorded: 1954-1956 | Memphis; New York; Hollywood; Nashville
Released: 1959 (RCA)
Essential Song: “Mystery Train” – Elvis’ best recording of the 1950s
What Makes It Great: Covering his SUN to early RCA years, For LP Fans Only is a rock ‘n’ roll masterpiece.

#16 Elvis Is Back!
Recorded: 1960 | Nashville
Released: 1960 (RCA)
Essential Song: “Reconsider Baby”
What Makes It Great: Blues and rock ‘n’ roll dominate this stellar album, recorded shortly after Elvis returned from serving in the US Army.

#15 Memories Of Christmas
Recorded: 1966-1971 | Nashville
Released: 1982 (RCA)
Essential Song: Remake version of “I’ll Be Home On Christmas Day” – one of the bluesiest performances of his career unfortunately went unreleased for over a decade
What Makes It Great: Alternate and extended versions of Elvis Christmas classics.

#14 Elvis’ Christmas Album
Recorded: 1957 | Hollywood
Released: 1957 (RCA)
Essential Song: “Santa Claus Is Back In Town” – Elvis gets dirty
What Makes It Great: This is a true Christmas classic that, along with its slightly superior sequel below, has spawned dozens of re-release compilations. This original format of Elvis’ Christmas Album includes gospel songs, such as “Peace In The Valley,” as well as Christmas songs. Unfortunately, the gospels are often dropped from subsequent reissues – including a 1970 reissue on the Camden label, which went ten times platinum (versus three times platinum for the original configuration).

#13 Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas
Recorded: 1971 | Nashville
Released: 1971 (RCA)
Essential Song: “I’ll Be Home On Christmas Day”
What Makes It Great: Another Christmas classic, with additional notable performances including “Holly Leaves And Christmas Trees,” “On A Snowy Christmas Night,” “Merry Christmas Baby,” and a rockin’ version of “Winter Wonderland.” His Christmas music was the most consistent of his career, which is why I placed his three key Christmas albums so close together in the countdown.

#12 ELVIS-TV Special
Recorded: 1968 | Burbank
Released: 1968 (RCA)
Essential Song: “If I Can Dream” – Elvis’ best recording of the 1960s
What Makes It Great: After allowing his music career to suffer in favor of his acting aspirations, Elvis came back in full force in the form of a television special – the excitement of which is ably captured on this soundtrack album.

#11 Memories: The ’68 Comeback Special
Recorded: 1968 | Burbank
Released: 1998 (BMG)
Essential Song: “One Night” (June 27, 6 PM Show; Disc 2/Track 15 version)
What Makes It Great: This 2-CD set provides an in-depth, audio documentation of the ELVIS special – including rehearsals and live versions that did not make the actual special or original album. The absolute highlight of Memories, though, is the debut of the complete June 27, 6 PM Show, which was taped before a small studio audience. This was the first (and best) of the two “sit-down” shows captured for the special. Elvis starts out on acoustic guitar. After a planned swap with Scotty Moore for his electric guitar, the informal jam session is energized as Elvis plays with a ferocity he would never display again after this night. Unfortunately, the majority of this footage did not appear in the 1968 TV special. Premium channel HBO aired the 6 PM show 17 years later in its entirety as Elvis: One Night With You in 1985. Unbelievably, it took another 13 years after that for the audio finally to receive an official release via this album.

To Be Concluded . . .

Read Part 5.

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2016 marks the 60th anniversary of millions of people around the world becoming Elvis fans. I dedicate this series of posts to those first generation fans. Without you, the rest of us might never have heard of The Memphis Flash.

5 thoughts on “The 50 Greatest Elvis Presley Albums of All Time (Part 4)

  1. Pingback: The 50 Greatest Elvis Presley Albums of All Time (Part 3) | Pastimescapes

  2. It’s an interesting part of his story that some of the very best recordings of his career are Christmas songs. I’ve always said “Santa Claus is Back…” contains one of his top five or six vocal performances and for sheer emotion he may not have ever done better than “I’ll Be Home on Christmas Day”. Cat excelled at everything. “I sing all kinds”.

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  3. Pingback: The 50 Greatest Elvis Presley Albums of All Time (Part 5: The Top 10) | Pastimescapes

  4. Pingback: Which “Jungle Room” Elvis CD Should You Buy? | Pastimescapes

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