The eight Elvis Files volumes are a very ambitious project by Erik Lorentzen to document almost every single day of Elvis' life from 1953 to 1977, covering everything from what he wore on stage, to who he met, rare interviews, candid photos and newly discovered images.
The seventh volume covers only two years 1974–1975, is 402 pages, hard-backed and printed on high quality paper. Click HERE to buy it directly from the author.
A large "coffee-table" book of 30 cm x 26cm with colour photos throughout, it is almost 1½ times bigger than Ernst Jorgensen/Peter Guralnick’s ‘Day by Day’ book yet covers only TWO years in Elvis’ life!
By now most Elvis fans are aware that Erik Lorentzen ‘The Elvis Files’ are a stunning visual journey of Elvis’ life day by day. Featuring relevant newspaper reviews and articles about Elvis from the time, the books nicely match Ernst Jorgensen and Guranick’s book as an invaluable and detailed biographical insight into Elvis’ life.
I truly think by now that reviews of these beautiful hard-cover Elvis files books are almost unnecessary. After six sensational volumes of the Elvis Files over the past 5 years it is hard to believe that fans would waver on whether to purchase this newest volume that focusses on Elvis in 1974 and 1975. Most Elvis Files fans will surely be collecting every volume as a matter of course by now and it would be a rare Elvis fan who thinks that the mid-70s were the best years of Elvis's career.
In the two years featured here of 1974 and 1975 Elvis performed close to 260 concerts including seven mind-numbingly repetitive seasons at the Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe casinos. By now it is usually accepted that touring had become more of a chore to Elvis although he could still put on some high calibre performances.
Editor Gordon Minto’s very interesting introduction "Reflections" is surprisingly somewhat negative compared to my own thoughts...
"Somewhat unexpectedly, the reviews / criticisms for the time were not all bad, as I had half-anticipated, but were mostly balanced, tempered and well considered....
... John Rockwell, writing in The New York Times, July 21, 1975, added: 'When Elvis cares about a song, he cuts out most of the vaudeville. But when he finds himself mired in material he has long since ceased to care about, the scarves-and-kisses ritual begins.' Meanwhile, Mary Dissen of the Norfolk Ledger-Star, seemed to sum it up in her review (dated July 1975), when she wrote: 'It's hard not to feel awe in the presence of a national institution, sort of like if Mount Rushmore suddenly started singing. And Elvis - who sells houses out in minutes - is definitely a national institution.'
... Almost uniformly though, the critics appeared to like him. Not surprisingly, many made reference to aspects of his stage act that they found less satisfying, or regarded as being artistically unworthy of him, which is fair enough. Inevitably, too, there were references to his obvious weight gain, his expanding waistline, and a slowing down of his stage movements, but rarely did they stoop to vindictiveness.... "
To be honest having first discovered the joy of Elvis’ later concerts via the June 1975 soundboard (silver box-set) and the 1974 bootleg ‘Event Number 8’, I personally only have troubles with Elvis’ in-concert material from 1976 onwards. That was when I Got A Woman / Amen regularly stretched to 8 minutes, the set-list never changed and Elvis dressed in those dreadful, unflattering fluffy-sleeved Bi-Centennial jumpsuits.
Elvis, still getting down to business in May 1975.
At least, in these two particular years, Elvis tried to radically reinvent his concert set list in August 1974 and was still rocking out during his summer 1975 southern tours. For this reason I had no concern about getting this new volume of the Elvis Files (although the concept of the final volume somewhat fills me with dread).
Examples of full size pages of Elvis on tour in 1974.
Certainly both the Chicken Bone and Totem Pole suits were a dreadful idea but in general Elvis still looked fine - even trying out the plainer two-piece suits and the stunning Phoenix jumpsuits towards the end of 75.
While the vast majority of the photos from this period are basically candid photos, the book features well over one hundred pages of stunning full size colour photos.
Fabulous full-size Elvis images help demostrate the impact of his summer 1975 shows in his Phoenix jumpsuit - check the regular CD shown against the book to give a size comparison
The superb quality full-size photos of Elvis in his various Phoenix jumpsuits – by photographer Keith Alverson – are sensational. There are over thirty colour photos (along with plenty in black & white) of Elvis in his Phoenix jumpsuits, both on stage and off.
As always the real pleasure of this book is a chance to reference the reviews and articles from the time along with stunning photos while listening to the particular concerts - FTD’s ‘Southern Nights’ collection being one of my favourites. The book also helps one understand the heavy pressure Elvis was under rushing from town to town on the incessant tour schedule.
Each concert page, photo, lists the venue, crowd size, jumpsuit even belt plus the setlist together with a photo.
Even if the Colonel loved to book Elvis into smaller towns, Elvis was still playing to crowds of 10 to 16 thousand fans, so no wonder some of the concert recordings sound so distant.
Elvis plays Jacksonville, April 25, 1975 to a crowd of 10,500.
The book features an amazing array of reviews all of which help to capture the media's feelings towards Elvis at the time
July 10, 1975 Cleveland Ohio.
.... Legendary Elvis Presley overwhelmed 22,000 devoted fans in the Richfield Coliseum last night and showed them that life really does begin at 40. At least for Elvis it does. Sure, his white-sequined jump suit is a couple of sizes larger these days. And granted, his blue-black hair is a bit thinner, and even his most worshipping fan will admit he doesn't shake it like he used to. But his voice never sounded better, and that's what made him king of rock n' roll for more than 20 years.
Elvis was magnificent as he stalked, teased, clowned, jumped around, flipped his guitar like a baton, and drove the ladies wild with sweaty scarves and probably sweatier kisses. But most of the people came to hear him sing, and he didn't disappoint them. On stage for little more than an hour, he squeezed in 21 songs, handed out 36 scarves and kissed 20 gals. But you can be sure 10 years from now every female who was in the Coliseum last night will be bragging to her friends how Elvis singled her out for a scarf .. or a treasured smooch.
Presley's range is even more incredible today than it was when he shook and shocked the world in the `50s....
.. But the greatest audience response was to a ballad called "The Wonder Of You", which Elvis joked he recorded "25 or 30 years ago," and to two spiritual numbers - Kris Kristofferson's "Why Me, Lord?" and "How Great Thou Art". These left me -- and most other fans, I'm sure -- with chills and goose bumps all over...
Candids of Elvis on Tour July 19, 1975
A more questioning review from one week later still notes how much better Elvis was in 1975 than back in 1973.
July 19, 75 Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY.
Elvis Presley played Madison Square Garden in 1972 for the first and last time. Since then, he has stuck to the suburbs, like most middle-of-the-roaders. Except that, when he wants to, Mr. Presley can still rock, and he felt like rocking a refreshing lot of the time Saturday at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY. When this observer last saw Mr. Presley, it was also the Nassau Coliseum, two summers ago. Then he was fat, lazy and ineffectual. On Saturday he was still fat - fatter than ever, a blown-up cartoon of his spare nineteen-fifties toughness. But he wasn't lazy, and he most certainly wasn't ineffectual. Fat or thin, overpowering or futile, he still inspires and accepts the adoration of his fans with the good-humored grace of a king.
... The ritual at any Presley concert has grown ornate with age. Like many other pop stars these days, he announces his imminent arrival with the Richard Strauss fanfare used in 2001. For him, it seems more cosmically fitting than for some. When he finally emerged, he was greeted by a tidal wash of squeals and flash cubes.
Mr Presley's roots lie in country music, and country crowds are particularly addicted to taking flash pictures of their favorites. But the rippling explosions of light, whenever he turns in a new direction are really unique."
Erik Lorentzen as always has tried to steer clear of the extremely well-known photographs and present some alternate images. I have heard some fans complaining of the lack of the usual Ed Bonja photographs in the book - but surely most fans buying this volume will already own Bonja's well-known images.
Two example pages of candid photos from the period, many of them new to me.
While plenty of the 1000 plus photos look familiar to me there are still a similar number I haven't seen or have only seen as low res images on websites. I also appreciate the fact that photos I have previously seen, and have filed away somewhere in a “1975” folder, are at last referenced to a particular concert or date.
Looking through the book we all know that Elvis was on an emotional roller-coaster ride – particularly late 1974 - you can also see his weight vary along the way, as well as the varying degree of happiness in his eyes.
There are plenty of pages of candid photos showing Elvis offstage and posing with fans and also plenty of karate photographs in keeping with Elvis's fascination with the sport in late 1974.
Above, check out a regular CD shown against the book to give a size comparison of the stunning presentation and photos here of Elvis and his karate interest from 1974.
One of the highlights is the Elvis files publisher Erik Lorentzen telling his own story of meeting Elvis in early 1975.
... After the performance... Joe (Esposito) took us to a huge space just in front of Elvis' dressing room. Two security guards were there watching us and, after a few minutes, The King entered. Dressed in a huge white fur coat and flowered shirt, he looked amazing.
The atmosphere in the whole room changed when he came over to shake our hands. Elvis looked proud and happy when he received the first of the gold records that I handed to him. I told him It was an award for the sale of 25,000 copies of Aloha From Hawaii in Norway, a significant achievement in a country with a population at the time of just over four million people. Elvis shook his head in disbelief, showed the trophy to one of the security guards and told him what it was for. I'll never forget how thrilled and proud Elvis looked.
We had naturally brought some photos with us to be autographed. I had with me a picture from the Million Dollar Quartet session that had already been signed by Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash. When Jerry Lee had signed this a few years before, he told me: "This girl on the piano was Elvis' girlfriend, but she is looking at me." I told Elvis what The Killer had said. Unconcerned, The King replied: "Son, when I date a girl and take her out, she never looks at another man." And then he laughed. Elvis was in a great mood, and was very polite and treated us really well.
Elvis shook our hands, kissed our wives, and finally surprised everyone by saying: "If you are coming to Memphis this summer, come and see me at Graceland and I will show you these trophies hanging in my trophy room." It was a beautiful gesture and revealed how happy Elvis was that night."
A great quality candid - Elvis spreads the "creepin' crud" May 5, 1975!
If I have any complaints it is that some of the pictures have some digital patterning while a few of them seem to be printed way too dark, but overall it beats any of the photo-books I have from the same period and again there is so much to read.
Towards the end of 1975 however, the more ominous signs begin
- "Presley Cancels Vegas Job"
.... Elvis Presley, whose famed swivel hips have been a little pudgy lately, is 40 years old, overweight and exhausted. He canceled a two-week engagement in Las Vegas this week after three days, and reserved a room at the Baptist Hospital today for treatment of fatigue, according to his doctors. "He just got very tired and fatigued and we thought it would be best if he cut his show here short this time rather than run into complications," said Dr. Elias Ghanem, the singer's Las Vegas physician. "We can't find much wrong with him," Ghanem said. "One of the liver enzymes is elevated and what he needs is rest."
It will be the fifth hospital stay since 1973 for the millionaire entertainer, who is heavier than in his early days and reportedly is on a crash diet. "We hope to have additional information by tomorrow (Friday)." Presley's Memphis physician, Dr. Nichopoulos, who was with Elvis in Las Vegas and flew home with him Thursday, refused to elaborate.
Gordon Minto has done a fine job proof–reading and that unfortunate string of mistakes that slipped through to the printing of the last Elvis Files 'volume 6' has not happened here. Although I did spot one ‘Totem Pole’ jump-suit photo (Elvis holding the ‘I Like Elvis’ badge) printed twice - and one as a reverse image – in both pages of his July 18 and July 19 concerts. And for some strange reason one review is also printed twice on pages 296 and 299 - but overall there are very few errors for such a large book.
The book ends with candid photos of Elvis at Graceland for Christmas 1975 and finally the Pontaic New Year's Eve performance for his biggest audience ever of over 60 thousand. At midnight Elvis and the crowd would sing 'Auld Lang Syne', from then on everything would be downhill. This book is a fine celebration of the previous two years.
Overall Verdict: This book truly delivers 400 pages of interest, looking back at Elvis’ hectic and somewhat troubled life in detail during 1974 and 1975. Again it is a quality photographic biographical lesson on the last two good years of Elvis' amazing legacy. There is plenty to read and over a thousand photos to pore over. This is not a photo-book to flip-through once and file away. For fans who might be considering starting to collect these Elvis Files books I would honestly have to recommend starting back in Elvis’ earlier years – however as the penultimate volume it does very nicely, thanks!
Please note - apologies, any patterning or shade on the photos featured above is due to my low-res scans.
Review by Piers Beagley.
-Copyright EIN April 2016
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CLICK HERE to buy this book directly from ‘The Elvis Files’
or try a local Elvis dealer to see if the total PLUS postage works out cheaper.
Elvis Files Vol 7 Photo Acknowledgments
The list of acknowledgments for photograph contributors is as impressive as ever including Keith Alverson, George Hill, Bob Heis, Len Leach, Ed Bonja, Judy Palmer, Sean Shaver, Cathi Avenell, and Kieran Davis.
The Seven-Volume series and proposed publishing dates are:
The Elvis Files Vol. 1,1953-1956, (April 2013)
The Elvis Files Vol. 2,1957-1959, (November 2010)
The Elvis Files Vol. 3,1960-1964, (April 2010)
The Elvis Files Vol. 4,1965-1968, (December 2011)
The Elvis Files Vol. 5,1969-1970, (August 2012)
The Elvis Files Vol. 6,1971-1973, (August 16 2013)
The Elvis Files Vol. 7,1974-1975 (Late 2015)
The first book The Elvis Files Vol. 3 1960 to 1964 was launched in April 2010.
Size: 25 (10") x 30 (12") Glossy & Hard cover....3 kilos
The Elvis Files – a Collectors Dream
Publisher: KJ Consulting, Oslo
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- Erik Lorentzen
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Go here for EIN's 'The Elvis Files Vol. 1' 1953 - 1956 review with lots of example pages
Go here for EIN's 'The Elvis Files Vol. 2' 1957 - 1959 review with lots of example pages