Back in the heyday of vinyl LP albums, the picture disc was a unique variation highly sought by some collectors. Instead of a plain old black disc, you get a record with a picture of the singer in vibrant color. I have several picture discs in my record collection, but I’ve never played them. I want to keep the images as pristine as possible.
Of course, with Elvis Presley, things often went to extremes, and such is the case with three of his picture discs. Would you believe there exists an Elvis picture disc with songs on it by KC and the Sunshine Band? Or, how about a Dolly Parton picture disc with songs on it by Elvis? Here is the story on these strange items.
This is the front and back of a picture disc with Dolly Parton showing a big smile and a lot of leg, but partially covering up her other big assets. Back in 1979, at the RCA pressing plant in Indianapolis, Indiana, workers were experimenting. They pressed the songs from Elvis — A Legendary Performance Vol. 3 on to several different discs. One was plain yellow, another had the picture of a pretty model from an Avon catalog, and another had the picture of an Elvis LP cover. Then they got creative and pressed the Elvis songs on a Dolly Parton picture disc. Can you imagine putting this album on the turntable and hearing these songs?
This is the back cover of Elvis – A Legendary Performer, Vol. 3. It was part of a series released after his death, foreshadowing the relentless effort to offer previously unreleased alternate versions of Elvis songs on CDs.
This the Elvis album the songs came from. Although this looks like a picture disc, it is not. There is no hole in the middle of Elvis’ face, because it is printed on the cover. However, there was a limited edition of Elvis – A Legendary Performer, Vol. 3 on picture disc that used a larger uncropped version of the same picture. This was the second commercially-issued Elvis picture disc, but there were many more to follow.
I did a little research to see if the Dolly Parton images on the picture disc above had ever been used on one of her own picture discs. Although she has had several, I could not find one with either of the two images. However, I did find this one which definitely shows those big assets we were talking about.
Take a look at this next picture disc (inside the cover sleeve). To Elvis: Love Still Burning features a reasonably accurate painting of Elvis, but look closely at the top of the sleeve. Inside a box it says KC & The Sunshine Band. That’s because the music is from their album KC & The Sunshine Band – Part 3, which came out in 1976.
So, we have an Elvis picture disc that plays songs by KC & The Sunshine Band. How weird is that? It is probably another case of the workers messing around in the record pressing plant, but they even went to the trouble to print a special cover for this one-of-a-kind item..
The cover they modified was actually designed for an Elvis tribute album with eleven songs by various artists. After Elvis’ death, many artists wrote and recorded their own tributes to the King of Rock & Roll. The songs were sought out and assembled by Jerry Osborne, the famous writer, collector, and Elvis expert, I am not aware of any other collection of Elvis tribute songs on one album, so this is a special compilation.
In addition to the standard black cover, there was a rarer white cover edition.
To Elvis: Love Still Burning is significant historically, because it was the first commercially issued picture disc LP. Who but Elvis would be featured on the first album to have a full color image of the artist on the record?
Here is the back cover showing the song list and the eleven singers paying tribute to Elvis almost immediately after his death.
On the back cover is a message to the fans from Jerry Osborne, who conceived and produced the album. Of all the words written about Elvis after his death, I think this is the most special praise I have ever read. Here is Jerry’s message:
To Elvis: Love Still Burning
The brightest star on earth has now become the brightest star in Heaven, and left us with a love… still burning.
Elvis actually drew his love from us, his fans and friends. But then he turned right around and let that love flow like a waterfall, back to us, through his music and his personal appearance. In fact, through his mere presence, we felt more love and magic than words can describe.
Nice sentiment, Jerry. You folks out there who had a chance to experience Elvis’ presence know it is true.
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