Elvis, like his fellow Sun Records veteran Johnny Cash, had a deep and abiding religious commitment (which did not get in the way of their earthly pleasures!) and love of gospel music. Each of them released religious records interspersed with their more popular fare. This was the first of Elvis’ three gospel records, released in 1960 as his sixth LP. Some of Elvis’ songs were originally intended as songs of religious praise, but the words worked equally well as love songs. Two such numbers from this session (‘Surrender’ and ‘Crying In The Chapel’) were held back and hit big as chart singles.
The record charted well and eventually went platinum. And with good reason. Scotty Moore on guitar, Hank Garland on guitar, Floyd Cramer on piano and Elvis at his prime add up to outstanding music, and Elvis was one of the greatest gospel singers, channeling the same energy that sent teen girls swooning into religious music. Whatever you think of the content, this is among Elvis’ greatest efforts and one of his best-recorded LPs. Presley’s Nashville recordings for RCA of this period stand as some of the best popular recordings ever made, and Speakers Corner’s Willem Makkee has succeeded in delivering all the freshness of the original.