E‑Z COUNTRY PROGRAMMING was the title of a series of promotional LPs manufactured by RCA Victor in the 1950s. Each record collected sides from current singles by various country artists. One of these records featured “I Forgot To Remember To Forget” and “Mystery Train” by Elvis Presley. It is a rather rare and valuable record.
Exactly when this record was shipped from RCA to radio stations across the country has long been believed to have been as early as November or December 1955. If true, that would make this record potentially the first long-playing record to feature a Presley recording and therefore make it important, especially to completist collectors.
This article is one in a series about collecting Elvis records from late 1955 and early ’56.
In this article, I answer the question, “Was E‑Z COUNTRY PROGRAMMING 2 the first LP record to feature an Elvis track?” The answer is complicated because the question also applies to another record.
That record was part of another series of promotional compilation albums from RCA Victor titled “E‑Z Pop Programming.” These records featured the latest singles from the company’s roster of pop artists. The second LP in that series featured the same two Presley sides. That record is addressed in a separate article (see below).
E‑Z Country Programming No. 2
Here is the technical information about this record:
Catalog number: none
Matrix numbers: G7OL-0108 / G7OL-0109
Format: 10-inch, 33⅓ rpm record (issued without a jacket)
Manufactured: probably January 1956
Shipped: probably January or February 1956
Here is a listing of the twelve tracks on the record:
Eddy Arnold: When You Said Goodbye
Nita, Rita & Ruby: Hi De Ank Tum
Elvis Presley: Mystery Train
Chet Atkins: Honey
Hank Snow: These Hands
Sons Of The Pioneers: The Last Frontier
Elvis Presley: I Forgot To Remember To Forget
Anita Carter: I Wore Dark Glasses
Homer & Jethro: Love And Marriage
Skeeter Bonn: Rock-A-Bye Baby
Hank Locklin: Love Or Spite
Stuart Hamblen: Handful Of Sunshine
Here are the same twelve tracks listed in order of their catalog numbers:
6332 Nita, Rita & Ruby: Hi De Ank Tum
6333 Stuart Hamblen: A Handful Of Sunshine
6347 Hank Locklin: Love Or Spite
6352 Skeeter Bonn: Rock-A-Bye Baby
6357 Elvis Presley: I Forgot To Remember To Forget / Mystery Train
6364 Anita Carter: I Wore Dark Glasses
6365 Eddy Arnold: When You Said Goodbye
6366 Chet Atkins: Honey
6374 Homer & Jethro: Love And Marriage
6376 Sons Of The Pioneers: The Last Frontier
6379 Hank Snow: These Hands
The last track, RCA Victor 6379, Hank Snow’s These Hands, was reviewed in the January 21, 1956, issue of Billboard. This would normally indicate a release date in the first third of that month.
These tracks are an interesting and entertaining cross-section of the country music that RCA Victor offered in the mid-’50s. Most are ballads and show no awareness of the rock & roll revolution that was about to take place. Presley’s I Forgot To Remember To Forget was the closest thing to a “straight” country & western record that had been released on any of his five Sun records. It fits just fine with the rest of the sides on this record although it doesn’t “feel” like the others.
A few tracks are sort of uptempo (notably Skeeter Bonn’s Rock-A-Bye Baby and Nita, Rita & Ruby’s Hi De Ank Tum) but only Presley’s Mystery Train really moves. It doesn’t sound or feel remotely like anything else on this album!
There are important data found in the record’s matrix numbers that tell us a few things about this record, especially the four-character prefix for each number. The prefix for E‑Z COUNTRY PROGRAMMING No. 2 is G7OL. This consists of three letters (G, O, and L) and one number (7). The third character was often erroneously printed as a numeral (0 instead of O). Consequently, G7OL (G‑seven-O‑L) often looks like G70P (G‑seventy‑L).
This company code tells us the following:
1. The first character tells the year that the record was made.
2. The second character tells the RCA imprint it was released under.
3. The third character tells the record’s category.
4. The fourth character tells the size, speed, and groove of the record.
To determine the information below, I used “Matrix Numbers Explained” on Keith Flynn’s Elvis Presley Pages website. (The article “RCA Victor Master Serial Number Codes” on Discogs may be easier to understand although it has less detail.)
The first four characters of the matrix number for E‑Z COUNTRY PROGRAMMING 5 tell us the following:
G = 1956
7 = custom job
O = phonograph
L = ten-inch, 33⅓ rpm record
So, the G7OL prefix tells us that the record is a twelve-inch phonograph record that plays at 33⅓ rpm. It was manufactured in 1955 as a custom job—here, for RCA Victor to use for promotional purposes.
Whatever paperwork that RCA Victor had regarding promotional records like E‑Z COUNTRY PROGRAMMING 2 is long gone. Trade publications like Billboard and Cash Box rarely mentioned promotional records unless it was part of some special campaign. Consequently, I was unable to find any direct information about this record in the old copies of these magazines. But there is some indirect information that might help:
• An ad for RCA Victor’s “Country & Western Pace Setters for the New Year” appeared in the January 7, 1956, issue of Billboard magazine. Eight of the twelve sides on this record can be found in this ad. I assume that the advertisement and the record are related.
• The latest single on the record is 47–6379, Hank Snow’s These Hands, which was coupled with I’m Moving In. The Snow record was reviewed in the January 7, 1956, issue of Billboard, which would normally indicate a release date during the last week of the previous month (December 1955).
So, copies of E‑Z COUNTRY PROGRAMMING 2 were probably shipped in January or February 1956.
The Avid Record Collector’s Price Guide
E‑Z COUNTRY PROGRAMMING No. 2 is a rather rare record in any condition! According to Popsike, there have been only eight sales of this record on eBay in the past fourteen years! On Discogs, there has only been one sale in the same period. Here are the most recent sales:
• In 2022, a copy graded VG sold for $85.
• In 2020, a copy graded P fetched $50 on Discogs.
• In 2019, a copy graded VG with “moderate wear [and] small writing and two tears on one label” sold for $70.
• In 2019, a copy graded “overall appearance G+/VG-” sold for $48.59.
• In 2018, a copy graded VG to VG+ and described as “still fairly shiny with a few random light scuffs” sold for $165.
Using these examples, I extrapolate a suggested near-mint value of $400–600 for E‑Z COUNTRY PROGRAMMING 5.
About that question
At the beginning of this article, I said that I would try to answer the question, “Was E‑Z COUNTRY PROGRAMMING 2 the first LP record to feature an Elvis track?” Well, that question needs to be rewritten as two questions with two answers:
“Was E‑Z COUNTRY PROGRAMMING 2 the first LP record to feature an Elvis track that was manufactured by RCA Victor?”
“Was E‑Z COUNTRY PROGRAMMING 2 the first LP record to feature an Elvis track that was released by RCA Victor?”
These questions are complicated because of another record manufactured and released around the same time, E‑Z POP PROGRAMMING 5. That record was manufactured in 1955 whereas E‑Z COUNTRY PROGRAMMING 2 was made in 1956. So, the country record was definitely the second LP record to feature an Elvis track that was manufactured by RCA Victor.
Until better evidence surfaces, I am of the opinion that E‑Z COUNTRY PROGRAMMING 2 was the second LP with an Elvis track to have been both manufactured and released by RCA Victor in early 1956.This article about ‘E‑Z Country Programming 2’ is one in a series about collecting Elvis records from late 1955 and early ’56. Click To Tweet
FEATURED IMAGE: Since the featured image at the top of this page is a record label that already appeared in this article, I am filling this space with a caricature of Elvis. This cool drawing of Elvis on stage in the ’50s was done by the artist who signs his work simply as George. I have published eleven collections of Elvis caricatures on this blog. To read the first article (which includes a list of the other ten articles with links), click here.
The first fourteen articles in this series are almost completed and listed below with links to each. Should you access one of these articles and receive an Error Page, try back a week later.
01 RCA Victor’s “SPD” Series of Specialty Records
02 What Was the First Elvis Record That RCA Victor Released?
03 The Biggest Country & Western Record News of 1955
04 The First RCA Elvis Record Was “I Forgot to Remember to Forget”
05 The RCA Victor Cartoon Picture Sleeves of the ’50s
06 The Elvis “This Is His Life” Cartoon Picture Sleeve
07 RCA Victor 47–6357 Bootleg Picture Sleeves
08 The “Record Bulletin” Picture Sleeve for RCA’s First Elvis Record Is a Fake
09 Did RCA Release Other Versions of Elvis’ Songs to Compete With Elvis’ Records?
10 A New Kind of Hit Re-run With Elvis Presley
11 Was “E‑Z Pop Programming 5” the First LP to Feature an Elvis Track?
12 Was “E‑Z Country Programming 2” the First LP to Feature an Elvis Track?
13 Was SPD-15 the First EP to Feature an Elvis Track?
14 Is the Country & Western Jukebox Promotion Kit a Fake?
More articles addressing the early RCA Victor releases are planned. Each will contain the blockquote, “This article is one in a series about collecting Elvis records from late 1955 and early ’56,” like the one at the beginning of this article.
To find all the articles in the series, copy the blockquote, paste it into the Find option (the magnifying glass in the navigation bar at the top of each page), and then press Return or Enter on your keyboard.
Mystically liberal Virgo enjoys long walks alone in the city at night in the rain with an umbrella and a flask of 10-year-old Laphroaig who strives to live by the maxim, “It ain’t what you know that gets you into trouble; it’s what you know that just ain’t so.
I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn, and a college dropout (twice!). Occupationally, I have been a bartender, jewelry engraver, bouncer, landscape artist, and FEMA crew chief following the Great Flood of ’72 (and that was a job that I should never, ever have left).
I am also the final author of the original O’Sullivan Woodside price guides for record collectors and the original author of the Goldmine price guides for record collectors. As such, I was often referred to as the Price Guide Guru, and—as everyone should know—it behooves one to heed the words of a guru. (Unless, of course, you’re the Beatles.)