‘Rolling Stone’ Said You Can Hear Elvis Presley Invent Rock on 1 Album

Rolling Stone released a list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2020 — and that list included a lot of recent albums. However, Rolling Stone still included many classic rock albums on the list. According to the list, fans can hear “the birth of rock ‘n’ roll” on this Elvis Presley album.

Elvis Presley with a microphone
Elvis Presley | Frank Carroll/Gary Null/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

The three Elvis Presley albums that made Rolling Stone’s list of the best albums ever

Firstly, a little background. The question of how rock ‘n’ roll was born is controversial — and involves a lot of other questions. What is the first rock song? Who is the first rock artist? Where do critics draw the line between rock and the genres that preceded/influenced it? Regardless, there’s a popular narrative that Elvis invented the genre.

Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time includes many albums that are fairly recent, as well as albums of many different genres. Pop, hip-hop, folk, and R&B are all included. However, canonical albums are still represented. Three Elvis albums are included on the list: Elvis’ self-titled album from 1956, From Elvis in Memphis, and The Sun Sessions.

“That’s All Right”

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Why ‘Rolling Stone’ thinks ‘The Sun Sessions’ is really important

The Sun Sessions was the highest-ranked Elvis album on the list as Rolling Stone placed it at No. 78 on the list. The title of the album refers to the fact that it includes recording from Sun Records. The Sun Sessions outranked other famous albums like Back in Black, Hunky Dory, and John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. Here’s what the magazine said about the album.

“On July 5th, 1954, at Sun Studios in Memphis, Elvis Presley, guitarist Scotty Moore, and bassist Bill Black were horsing around with ‘That’s All Right,’ a tune by bluesman Arthur Crudup, when producer Sam Phillips stopped them and asked, ‘What are you doing?’” Rolling Stone said. “‘We don’t know,’ they said. Phillips told them to ‘back up and do it again.’ Bridging black and white, country and blues, Presley’s sound was playful and revolutionary, charged by a spontaneity and freedom that changed the world. He released four more singles on Sun — including definitive reinventions of Wynonie Harris’ ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight’ and Junior Parker’s ‘Mystery Train’ — before moving on to immortality at RCA. They’re all here on a collection that serves as well as anything out there as a definitive chronicle of the birth of rock ‘n’ roll.” It’s notable Rolling Stone sees Elvis as having created rock ‘n’ roll.

“Blue Moon”

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Did ‘The Sun Sessions’ connect with audiences?

Clearly, The Sun Sessions resonates with modern critics. Did it resonate with the public? The album reached No. 76 on the Billboard 200. Notably, The Sun Sessions is a 1976 compilation of recordings the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll made in the 1950s. It wasn’t an album of new material and it’s not clear how that affected its commercial performance. Regardless, The Sun Sessions resonates with contemporary critics — even if the audience response was muted.