It's hard to tell what Sholes or country music DJs must have thought about the sense of the absurd that Presley brings to the tune, but hearing it today is delicious fun.
The album has three other country songs, including an upbeat novelty, "Just Because," which has a joyous hillbilly tinge, and ballads -- "I Love You Because" and "I'll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin')" -- that do little other than showcase the purity and caress of Presley's voice.
Another ballad, the pop standard "Blue Moon," is heavily reworked as Presley drops the final verse (with its happy-ever-after asides) and slows the tempo. The result is an eerie, lonesome exercise, not unlike the pop melodrama Roy Orbison would reach for in '60s hits such as "Only the Lonely."
To round out the album, Presley did versions of three songs that had long been part of his live act: Ray Charles' "I Got a Woman," Little Richard's "Tutti Fruitti" and the Drifters' "Money Honey."
In some ways, these songs were the most revealing of all.
Unlike many white artists, such as Pat Boone and the Crew Cuts, who watered down the gritty edges of the original R&B versions of songs in the '50s, Presley reshaped them.
He not only injected the tunes with his own vocal character but also made guitar, not piano, the lead instrument in all three cases. It was one of his biggest contributions to the defining of modern rock 'n' roll.
Despite the different styles, the one thing Sholes and the engineers did was keep Presley's voice way out in front in the musical mix. They may not have known Presley's exact musical direction, but they knew the value of that voice.
Sholes was lucky to have inherited one other song from Phillips: "Trying to Get to You," perhaps the album's most electrifying moment. Written by Charles Singleton and Rose Marie McCoy, the R&B song is a tale of romantic obsession that Phillips liked so much that he recorded it twice with Presley at Sun.
The first session was in February 1955, the same day Presley recorded the landmark "Baby, Let's Play House," and maybe Phillips was so focused on the excitement of that track that he gave up on "Get to You" after the early stab at it didn't seem to work. On that track, he had used only guitar and bass.
Five months later, Phillips tried the song again, this time adding a drum, and Presley sang the tune with such chilling intensity that Phillips had planned to release "Get to You" as the follow-up to "I Forgot to Remember to Forget," which spent 10 months on the country charts. But RCA bought the rights to all of Presley's Sun recordings before he got the chance.
So teens heard it for the first time on "Elvis Presley," and it is a moment of genuine triumph.
The lesson in all of this is that Sholes may have been nervous about Presley's experimentation, but he had the good sense to allow him to proceed, even as he tested pop extremes while defining his own sound. That record-executive approach is another reason to call this a "lost" album. There isn't much evidence of that risk-taking any more at major labels. The tendency is too often to head for the safe, middle ground.
Almost 50 years later, you still marvel at Presley's bold approach -- and the youthful assurance of that stirring voice, which mixes pop crooning with renegade country and R&B spirit. Despite the hundreds of thousands of records that have been made since 1956, this young singer still sounds blessedly unique.
On the Web
To hear samples from "Elvis Presley," visit calendarlive.com/presley.
Robert Hilburn, pop music critic of The Times, can be reached at Robert.email@example.com