Love Songs [BMG International]

by: Elvis Presley

Time-Life's The Elvis Presley Collection is a series of two-CD compilations grouping Presley recordings by various criteria. Love Songs has an obvious unifying theme, and among its 31 selections are most of Presley's best-known romantic ballads, including the Top Ten hits "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You," "Love Me Tender," "Love Me," "Don't," "It's Now or Never," "Are You Lonesome Tonight?," "Surrender," "Can't Help Falling in Love," and "The Wonder of You," as well as such Presley standards as "Always on My Mind" and the Kris Kristofferson compositions "Help Me Make It Through the Night" and "For the Good Times." One might quibble that "Suspicion" and "Suspicious Minds" don't quite fit the theme, both for their quick tempos and subject matter. And the compilers have treated the two discs separately, with each one running in rough chronological order from the 1950s to the '70s, which tends to throw early and late Presley together, sometimes jarringly. Beyond such minor criticisms, however, there are so many Presley collections on the market that the necessity of this series is open to question, even though it has been intelligently programmed. Partly to answer that question, each album in the series contains one previously unreleased track. In this case, it's a circa-1966 home-recorded, off-hand performance of Rodgers & Hammerstein's "If I Loved You," apparently a favorite of Presley's, since he was also taped singing it informally in 1960, though he never performed the song in the studio or in concert. ~ William Ruhlmann

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