Platinum: A Life in Music
Released on the eve of the 20th anniversary of Presley's death, Platinum: A Life in Music attempts to trace an alternative history of Elvis' career by concentrating on alternate takes and unreleased material. Over the course of four discs, 23 hit singles are interspersed with 77 previously unreleased items. The hits function as touchstones, so the listener has an idea of where Elvis was in his career when he was recording such unreleased gems as a 1966 cover of "Blowin' in the Wind" or the 1959 "Bad Nauheim Medley." Certainly, the sheer amount of unreleased material means that Platinum: A Life in Music is targeted at hardcore collectors, but what is surprising is how listenable the set is, even for casual fans. The homemade recordings and demos are occasionally sonically rough, but the rarity of these items make the sound a moot point. Some of the performances aren't particularly remarkable -- alternates of "Always on My Mind" and "Heartbreak Hotel" simply sound like the released versions, only not as good -- but there's an abundance of gems scattered throughout the set, making it worthwhile for any serious Elvis collector.