Valentine Gift

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RCA Was once never at a loss repackaging Elvis Presley material even all over the King’s lifetime–and it is just accelerated since his death. This 1985 compilation of ’50s and ’60s ballads, both bluesy and soft, comes from a period when the label Was once assembling theme compilations, the idea that in the back of this one obviously being love. And it covers all those contradictory Presley bases–that may be, love in all its forms–from raw sex (“Fever,” “It Feels So Right”) to rejection (the wonderful “I Was once the One,” “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”) to his stock-in-trade sincere tenderness (a majority of the tracks here, including, of course, the obligatory “Can’t Lend a hand Fallin’ in Love”). “Fame and Fortune” remains one of his greatest post-Army ballads, and his underrated version of Kitty Lester’s “Love Letters” matches the original–but the major buzz at the time of this release Was once the inclusion here of Dylan’s “The next day to come Is a Long Time,” prior to now to be had only as a bonus cut on the dreadful Spinout! soundtrack. As Dylan related to an interviewer, this is the cover version of his own material that he has “treasured the most.” –Bill Holdship

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