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Elvis: Ultimate Gospel [Bonus Track] ()

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Though RCA released only three LPs and an EP of dedicated gospel material during the lifetime of Elvis Presley, it's likely that he sang more gospel than any other type of music. Late at night, after a session or a show, Elvis would seek out and keep awake anyone who could carry a tune, in order to pore over the nuggets of gospel music he had soaked up during his early years at the Assembly of God churches in Tupelo and Memphis. And among Elvis' most prized awards, among hundreds, were his four Grammy awards for Best Sacred Performance or Best Inspirational Performance. Elvis: Ultimate Gospel completes RCA's cycle of Elvis gospel remasters, which began in 1994 with the two-disc Amazing Grace: His Greatest Sacred Songs and continued with the three-disc box set Peace in the Valley. This one is a solid single-disc sampler, simple but stellar, including roughly half of his officially released gospel material. The selections are judiciously spread from throughout his career; two come from the 1957 EP Peace in the Valley, six are from 1967's How Great Thou Art, and seven each are from 1960's His Hand in Mine and 1972's He Touched Me. The only caveat is the disorienting sequencing that finds songs from different eras scattered across this collection; consider the fairly large step required to move from the sweet, reverent Elvis of 1960's "Crying in the Chapel" to the grandiose Elvis of 1967's "You'll Never Walk Alone." Everything else about this collection is accomplished, but fans of gospel in general or Elvis specifically should consider either the two-disc collection or an original album like His Hand in Mine, which stands out as among the best recordings in Elvis' discography. [A 2007 import reissue featured a darker hued cover and adds the track "In My Father's House".] ~ John Bush, Rovi Hide synopsis

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