is a box set: an expansive focus on a specific period of a prolific recording artist's career, thoroughly documented liner notes by a recognized authority (Peter Guralnick), complete sessionography and discographies (U.S. and U.K.), and abundant photographs. The song selection includes only the secular recordings Elvis made between 1960 and 1969. In this narrow focus, it's possible to see that John Lennon was all wrong about Elvis having died when he went into the army. For one, the material is almost uniformly first-rate. Presley knew from great songwriters, and the '60s proved an especially fertile time for one of his favorite sources, the Doc PomusMort Shuman team, whose contributions are among Presley's foremost artistic triumphs: "A Mess of Blues," "Suspicion," "His Latest Flame," "She's Not You," "Surrender," "Little Sister," "Night Rider." He scorched a Bob Dylan song ("Tomorrow Is a Long Time"); he cut songs by Otis Blackwell, Leiber & Stoller, and Neil Diamond; and, as usual, he took material by lesser writers such as Eddie Rabbitt and found the poetry in them ("Kentucky Rain"). Finally, come 1969, we are in Memphis again, at Chips Moman's American Studios, in the remarkable sessions that produced "In the Ghetto," "Suspicious Minds," and the From Elvis in Memphis
album. This is a portrait of an evolving artist, his growth reflected in his deeper emotional involvement in the material and in his ability to use tonal shadings to probe the subtleties of a lyric in a way that escaped him in earlier years. Impressive, on all counts, and essential.