In a big anniversary year like this a lot of (re)issues see the light of day. Actually a lot of them darken the sky, but there are some pretty stars among them. In which category belongs this book?
The 329 page book is printed on plain paper. That’s no problem at all for the text, but it would have been great if they had used glossy paper for the pictures. The very best picture in the book, from the show in the Conroy Boxing Bowl (Nov. 11, 1957), is unfortunately a reprint of a newspaper photograph. How I wish I had this shot as a real photograph. The layout is perfect, paragraphing and citing are well done, so it is very easy on the eyes. The finishing touch is the index, which is often missed in books like this.
The fact that I prefer reading about the artist more than reading about the human being makes me a little biased. Obviously this book is well researched and you can recognize the teacher in the author. Tons of footnotes point you to the sources he, Alan Hanson, used for his book. Next to this accuracy it is well written in a lively style, therefore the book never gets boring.
The facts on the 28 shows Elvis did in 1957 are decorated with memories of fans, writings from 50 years ago like newspaper columns, articles and letters. Some of them are still somehow shocking; it is hard to imagine that people were so square, especially if you are born even later. There are funny pieces to, like the professor who studied Elvis as an anthropological phenomenon and concluding Elvis was “a delightful entertainer”. Other bits that come to mind were about the “Presley Special”, a train from Montreal to Ottawa because the show in Montreal was cancelled, or about the girls that wanted to walk from Montreal to Ottawa. Also Jimi Hendrix – who saw / heard Elvis’ show in Seattle from outside the stadium, and the meeting with Ricky Nelson in L.A. must be mentioned.
All together this book is literally setting some records straight and a very pleasant read.
The only minor I found in the book was the “in between” chapter about the split with Scotty and Bill and the army. This chapter caused some unnecessary repeating, but that is only a minor remark.
This book by Alan Hanson is a bright star in the dark sky of rubbish that surrounds an anniversary year like this.