So how does the 210 pages book component of the Tearing ‘Em Up! compare with the other books? In size Tearing ‘Em Up! measures a US trade size 17.7cms (7 inches) x 24cms (9.5 inches), compared to Davis’ larger portrait size 29cms (12 inches) x 21cms (8.25 inches) for his 150 pages book.
Tearing ‘Em Up! is essentially a photo book as 95% of its content is imagery of Elvis on stage. There are a few pages of archival material opening the book before it is structured into each concert of the tour from Minneapolis on Nov 5 to Salt Lake City on Nov 16. The opening page to each chapter (concert) includes as complete a song set list for each performance as the producers have been able to compile, the crowd size, gate gross and jumpsuit worn for each show.
The visual element of the book is solid. The photos, of which there are hundreds, are a mix of full color and b&w, but mostly color. The imagery varies between full page and double page single image shots to multi-image pages and two page mosaic spreads. The variation in size and number of images presented as you turn each page serves to enhance your interest. The quality of most images is generally a little fuzzy but more than acceptable and interesting for the viewer. There are close up shots and more distant (taken from the audience) images (a number of these distant images are somewhat disappointing due to Elvis and the band being indistinct, but thankfully there aren’t too many).
The chapters vary in size from only a few pages (Cincinnati Gardens – incorrectly listed as Cincinnati Garden, Nov 11) to 60 pages (Boston Garden, Nov 10). Not surprisingly, the mix of more than 100 color and b&w images of Elvis in his Black Matador suit at Boston Garden is among the best showcased in Tearing ‘Em Up!
Some of the highlight images are two wonderful b&w images on pages 84 and 85 (Boston Garden, 10 Nov), in full color; Elvis with his leg draped over the stage cliff (page 114); Elvis in full flight in color (page 129); a double page single image shot of Elvis doing his regal pose in Dallas on Nov 13 (pages 138-39) in full color (see above) , and a full page animated Elvis on stage in Kansas City on Nov 15 (page 173).
We have seen many, if not most of the photos before, but that in no way detracts from their interest as a visual set of a discrete tour. Elvis is in great shape, looks good and the range of images is diverse and interesting. A cursory check of images suggests they correspond with the correct date/concert.
While not the complete set of known photos from the tour, the book features the most photos yet to be published. In my view, all images in Tearing ‘Em Up! are easily enjoyed.
Photo comparison between Tearing ‘Em Up and Elvis On Tour November 1971 (Kieran Davis) and Elvis ’71 at 40 (Tunzi-Lichter):
There appear to be a number of photos that are unique to each of the three releases and many that are common to all three (it should not be surprising that most photos originate from the same source). And there is variation in the size of some images that are common to each book. For example, some images which appear in the Venus and Kieran Davis releases are of larger size in Tearing ‘Em Up! than Elvis On Tour, despite the former’s smaller book size. This occasionally results in a degree of visual clarity being lost with the larger images, but this loss is not to the point that it is a negative.
For instance, two photos from the Elvis' performance show in Minneapolis on 5 Nov 1971, presented as quarter page sized images in Elvis On Tour (page 29) appear as full page images in Tearing 'Em Up! (pages 6-7).
As a general observation, the advantage of larger sized books such as the Davis and Tunzi-Lichter releases is that the strengths of “good” photos are maximised. On the flip side, the disadvantage is that the weaknesses of fuzzy or long shot visuals are emphasised.
All three books have their fair share of “fuzzy” images.
Piers Beagley adds:
While Tearing 'Em Up! has by far the largest number of photographs of Elvis' November 1971 tour there are still some dates where other books have concert photos that are missed from Tearing 'Em Up!
For instance Kieran Davis' book features several more photographs from November 5 concert not included in Tearing' Em Up!
For November 7, 1971, the better researched Kieran Davis book also has seven photographs of Elvis from the Louisiana date - as does Tunzi - whereas Tearing 'Em Up! only has three.
There are however several concerts where Tearing 'Em Up! has a plethora of photographs that I have never seen before and this is where it excels over any of the other 1971 books.
For Elvis' November 9 concert Tearing 'Em Up! features 65 photographs whereas Kieran Davis book has 40.
For Elvis' famous November 10 Boston Garden concert Tearing 'Em Up! features more than 130 photographs presented over 60 pages. It's incredible to be able look through so many photographs of Elvis at this dynamic concert while at the same time listening to the CD. This is the real joy of this new Venus release.
Elvis' final concert of November 15 in his Red Lion jumpsuit features some of the best photographs of Elvis in action, looking stunning, and also presented here over 30 pages with some fabulous full-page photos.
Some of the more distant November 15 photographs included were taken by super fan Peggy Elzea, although since Venus is a bootleg book there is no credit to the photographers. This is where Kieran Davies book (although with are far fewer concert photos) perhaps wins out since Davies actually worked with Peggy Elzea for his publication and so included excerpts from her actual 1971 diary that helped capture all the excitement and the feeling of being at the performance and watching Elvis in concert on this marvellous tour.
Of course Tearing'Em Up! has the exciting bonus of actual DVD footage of Elvis so fans can see the onstage action for themselves rather than reading text or reviews from the time.
While, unrelated to the November 1971 tour, I found the closing section (17 pages) of Tearing ‘Em Up! to be an interesting and informative narrative-visual presentation of Venus Productions’ impressive back catalog - Piers and I disagree on the value of its inclusion.
Overall, the book design of the Venus release is strong. The pages are high quality reflective paper stock with each page securely bound into the hardcover. The page design is very good alternating between white and black space on different pages to enhance the imagery. While the book is compact (US trade) rather than portrait (Kieran Davis release) there is nevertheless effective image representation.
Anyone who buys this new VENUS package will already own this great soundboard, probably via the FTD 'As Recorded At Boston Garden '71' or the earlier 'One Night Only' Madison bootleg.
Fans will surely remember that while it is a great quality soundboard recording - the best we have from 1971 - the original cassette recording had some high frequency distortion as well as annoyingly loud backing-vocals and trumpet at times in the mix.
And while FTD's version was released eight years ago nothing magic has been done on this VENUS version to really upgrade the original cassette quality.
The audio here is very similar to the original Madison release, if not identical, with the distortion still apparent on the top-frequencies.
The FTD version still has the toned down top-end and sounds better on my Hi-Fi but truly there is very little between all three versions.
As Rolling Stone writer Jon Landau noted in an article at the time..
"Elvis sings like an angel and moves like a ballerina, and he left me struck dumb.... by the time he finished you knew that underneath the control and the lightness of most of the evening's music there stood a man with more natural ability, talent, and soul than I expect to see on the stage at any rock concert."
This concert is super-important for being such a fantastic quality soundboard recording of such a short tour. If you are a fan of Elvis this is the ESSENTIAL concert to own from 1971.
(see EIN's review of Elvis' Boston Garden performance here)
The DVD - 40 minutes
The DVD comprises the Boston concert audio synched to available video footage from the tour. The synching is not perfect but more than acceptable. Also, the audio for each is song is synched to a composite video of Elvis from different shows in the November tour which sometimes works better than others. The occasional photo is included to remind you that the audio is from Elvis' Boston Garden concert. While the audio quality is, in most instances, very good, the video quality is not surprisingly variable from good to fair.
Being a bootleg Venus have lifted the best quality 1971 amateur footage from Bud Glass' 'Behind The Image' DVD which is of Elvis performing in his 'Red Lion' jumpsuit from Houston, November 12. The quality of this is sensational, some of the best fan footage ever filmed and it is great to have it synced to Elvis' live concert audio. It is a disappointment however that any footage of Elvis in his fabulous 'Black Matador' suit is the poorest quality and doesn’t seem improved from previous outings.
However in 1971 Elvis was still on fantastic form, excited to be away from las Vegas and looking taut and terrific. The DVD shows just how much energy he was putting into his performances even if he didn’t know he was being filmed. Watching Elvis deliberately fall over backwards after 'Polk Salad Annie' is a treat. The footage also demonstrates how Elvis had changed down a gear by his "Elvis On Tour" filmed concerts the following year. Fans may be disappointed that there is no footage of Elvis performing the wonderful 'I'm Leaving' but this collection is still the best look at Elvis on stage in 1971 that we will probably get. Overall, I found the DVD an enjoyable audio-visual experience showcasing Elvis in fine vocal and visual form, full of energy and physical motion. Worth a repeat viewing.
Verdict: Tearing ‘Em Up! is a strong release which stands on its own - while Kieran Davis’ book is superior in its blend of narrative-visual content and the Tunzi-Lichter release has similar appeal, as a total multi-media package including book, DVD and CD elements, Venus Productions’ Tearing ‘Em Up! has considerable merit and continues a winning formula for its The King in Motion series. It is more than worth a look and will please many fans!
Review by Nigel Patterson / Piers Beagley
-Copyright EIN May 2018. Do Not reprint or republish without permission.