Rough Guide To Elvis (2004 Edition)
the number of pages of the 2nd edition is actually the same,
the size of the book has been slightly increased to allow for
added information and for relevant chapters to be updated to
include all the new releases of the past 2 years. Sadly, passing
deaths like Sam Phillips’ in 2003 now also have to be added.
published in 2002 ‘The Rough Guide to Elvis’ deserved
the glowing reviews it received at the time.
to coincide with Elvis’ 70th birthday, it is released
in a bigger 2nd edition. Author Paul Simpson is a serious
Elvis fan who is obviously interested in his subject
and who also has a delightful style of writing. He keeps
the information concise yet always insightful. As a
pocket-sized book of 474 pages it is remarkably packed
with fascinating Elvis stories, information and rare
insights into The King.
reviews are spot-on, praising the worthy while denouncing
the bad. His comments on the bilious Albert Goldman
book are perfect - “It is Goldman’s bigotry that really
undoes his book. It is hard not to conclude that all
his disgust is really self-disgust.”
has gathered more insights from new sources, like Alanna Nash’s
book ‘The Colonel’, updating chapters where necessary. A new
sub-chapter has also been added about Elvis’ mother Gladys
- “The tragedy is that the very fame that freed them from
poverty later destroyed the family”.
section on The Colonel’s gambling addiction has rightly been
updated – “As Parker’s estate when he died in 1997 was worth
less than $1M, estimates by his biographer Alanna Nash that
he may have gambled away up to $30M don’t seem that far-fetched.”
have always liked the layout of the book, with the side-sections
that you can dip into, and there is always something new to
discover. Typically a chapter such as ‘In the Studio’ captures
excellent insights from Elvis’ cohorts - “The urgency was
palpable. Chet Atkins, who famously dozed of at a session
in 1966, was never invited back after sleeping through one
aspects of Elvis’ history is examined, his life, his music,
his influences, his movies, as well as Simpson’s personal
pick of Elvis’ 50 essential songs. Great to compare against
your own selection, from my point of view it is unbelievable
that ‘Such a Night’ is not on his list! Final
chapters also investigate Elvis as ‘The Icon’ (where Valentino,
Byron, k.d lang & David Bowie all get a mention!) and the
interesting ‘Elvis Country, from Memphis to Bad Nauheim’.
I love chapters like ‘Influences’ where all of Elvis’ musical
styles are investigated and you can learn more about his idols
including the more obscure, such as Lavern Baker & Mississippi
Slim. There is also a great look at Elvis’ personal record
such as ‘Ten songs that tell the story’ (songs Elvis sang
that reflected on his life) and ‘Elvis’ ten weirdest songs’
are also fascinating! New CDs such as the ‘Close Up’ box-set
and the recent FTDs releases are included, although ‘Ultimate
Gospel’ is not featured. Unfortunately while both the new
DVD box-sets of ‘Aloha’ and ’68 Comeback Special’ are mentioned
as essential viewing, they were released as the book went
to print so don’t get a detailed review.
usual they are a few minor omissions – how can the ‘Elvis
‘56’ CD compilation not be mentioned, nor Elvis’ final concert
recording “Adios” in the bootleg section? - but these are
minor quibbles and an even better reason to update The Rough
Guide again for the 2007 “Elvis’ 30th Anniversary” edition!
- An absolutely essential book for any Elvis fan and the
only one you can carry in your pocket to read at anytime.
The size makes it the perfect travelling companion and I always
make sure that I have it with me for those train, plane &
automobile trips! As the subtitle of the book says, ‘The Man.
The Music, The Movies, The Myth’, what more could you want
in your pocket?
to read EIN's interview with Paul Simpson
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