Elvis Presley 'Young Man With the Big Beat' Box Set

Dec 12, 2011 7:37 PM, By Barbara Schultz


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Elvis Presley Young Man With the Big Beat box set

Open this treasure chest and feast your ears and eyes: RCA Legacy’s Young Man With the Big Beat contains five CDs of remastered classics, rare live performances and interviews, plus a vinyl-sized book packed with rare photos and facts, all documenting the year the King rose to national fame, 1956. Included are Presley’s classic versions of “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Hound Dog,” “Don’t Be Cruel” and dozens more. This is just the latest irresistible package to be culled from RCA’s vaults by producer Ernst Mikael Jorgenson, who has built a career on championing Presley’s catalog. The set was nominated for a Grammy this year in the Best Historical Recording category.

“After he died [in 1977], all you saw of Elvis for 15 years was the bloated Elvis on the front of the National Enquirer,” Jorgenson told The Washington Post reporter David Segal in the article “The Elvis Hunter” in 2003. “The erratic behavior at the end of Presley’s life had overshadowed one of the most important talents in this country. Nobody could hear the music anymore for all the nonsense.”

As often seems to be the case, Europeans fans somehow have a deeper, or at least a different, appreciation for American rock ’n’ roll from American listeners. Jorgenson, a Dane who works out of BMG’s Denmark office, has spent countless hours meticulously researching and documenting every recording session and every performance in Presley’s career, following clues, recovering lost and stolen tapes, and creating collections like this that take a somewhat scholarly, and always passionate, view of Presley’s work.

“In 1988, I was offered a job at the Danish subsidiary for BMG, and when it became known that I was a so-called Elvis expert, I was asked to come up with a game plan for restoring Elvis’ entire catalog,” Jorgenson says. “My [research] partner for all these years, Roger Semon, and I delivered a proposal that was generally accepted, and the first major result was The King of Rock ’n’ Roll 5-CD box in 1992. The box has sold about a million copies worldwide and we received a Grammy nomination for it [for Best Historical Album].

Senior mastering engineer Vic Anesini

Senior mastering engineer Vic Anesini

“I launched the idea [for the Young Man With the Big Beat box set] about three years ago," he continues. "The idea started out as an extravagant tribute to the first album only. Over the next year, a small group of people kept discussing this release and various angles were considered before we ended up with the project as you now know it. The creative discussion is to me one of the exciting parts of developing projects like these.”

Another creative partner in Jorgenson’s Presley-focused mission has been senior mastering engineer Vic Anesini, a veteran of Sony Legacy’s reissue work who began working on RCA projects when Sony and BMG joined forces several years ago. “The merger between Sony and BMG was one of the greatest things that could have happened for me,” Anesini says. “It opened up a whole new avenue of artists that I get to work with. After having the privilege of mastering all the acclaimed Columbia and Epic artists for 20 years, I now had the opportunity to work on Harry Nilsson, Waylon Jennings, Jefferson Airplane, Elvis Presley; it’s phenomenal.”

Anesini collaborates with Jorgenson mainly via phone and e-mail, though Jorgenson visits the U.S. a couple of times each year to check in with his collaborators and search for ever more Presley facts and recordings.

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