The second book on the Follow That Dream label is again a cooperation between Sherif Hanna and Ernst Michael Jorgensen. Are these two well known names in the Elvis world a guarantee for a great release?
This release is an “audiovisual documentary” as the authors put it. And that is probably the right description for this book and CD combination. The book shows Elvis transition from the Hillbilly Cat or Atomic Powered Singer to the true King of Rock and Roll who reigned the music scene before he gave it all up for Uncle Sam by leaving his kingdom for Europe.
Browsing a book dealing with the period 1955 – 1958 you automatically think of the Ger Rijff books on the fifties. Picture wise you can compare the books, presentation wise Ger Rijff’s books are a class of their own, but this comes close.
Ernst Jorgensen and Sherif Hanna collected a lot of original and new pictures and tried to share them “promptly” with the Elvis fans. This book contains some real beautiful gems, capturing the essence of Elvis and Rock and Roll in the fifties. No matter how long Elvis reigned as King of Rock and Roll, the fifties were his era. If his fate would have been the same as that of James Dean, his impact in these years would already be enough to make him a legend.
The images in this book clearly show that: from the Hayride pictures to his first Vegas appearances (with a great shot of Elvis and Scotty dueling on guitar) and from his taste of clothes, enjoying himself off stage while in Vegas or conquering Miami as seen through the lens of Alfred Wertheimer.
Many of the pictures are new or different shots of series we all know since BMG uses these pictures a lot. Shots from Miami were used for the “Close Up” box, a picture from the sessions at Radio Recorders graces the cover of the “Platinum” box and a shot from an RCA press series is used on the “Today, Tomorrow And Forever” box set. Thanks to this book you get a more complete view.
Most pictures in the book are black and white, but the few color ones really paint a different picture of images you know by heart. We didn’t realize that Elvis wore a green jacket on his second Sullivan appearance, but simply knew these as black and white from the TV show.
The highlights? Well there are too many, but the Tupelo state fair shots remain favorite because they capture both Elvis and the audience, painting a complete fifties picture.
Off course there are a few minors too. The text with background information is collected on two pages at the beginning of the book; this means you have to look it up while browsing the book. The design of the book leaves enough space to add a few lines alongside the pictures for additional information. The designer “solved” this with the chapter title in the footer, but this isn’t very satisfactory. Some of the images are a bit grainy, but that is partly due to blowing up old photos and a low resolution of print. The dark pictures on a dark background don’t work that well either, looking at Ger Rijff’s books you can see there are easy solutions to present the images a bit better.
With Ernst Jorgensen as the co-author you have the great opportunity to release an interesting CD with a book, and not another Hayride compilation you get so often with books on this era. The combination of the book and the CD make it a true audiovisual documentary.
Just like the images capture the essence of Elvis, so do the tracks on this CD. These tracks are the basis of Rock and Roll and Elvis’ rise, or transition as the authors put it, to fame. With out-takes of rockers like Lawdy, Miss Clawdy”, “Shake, Rattle And Roll”, Rip It Up” and especially “A Big Hunk O’ Love” combined with ballads as “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You” and “Loving You“ you enjoy browsing these pictures even more since these were the songs recorded during the sessions and live appearances you see.
From the out-takes only three are previously unreleased, “Heartbreak Hotel” (take 5), “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You” (take 16) and “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You” (take 6) , the others have found their way to the fans through various releases over the years. The version of "Treat Me Nice" is the most remarkable in the binaureal section.
Just like the “The Way It Was” book this book is what it says to be, an “audiovisual documentary”. These are the books serving the fans best. But hopefully the price will drop on future releases, so no fan has to miss these releases.