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Writing For The King

By ElvisNews.com/ Lex, December 15, 2006 | Book
Together with the essential “His Hand In Mine” FTD released “Writing For The King” earlier this month. Is this book/cd combination essential too?


The 400 pages are put together in the same way as the previous FTD books, so they continue to form a nice series on the shelf. The lay-out is near perfect, the text and pictures of our man, the writers and memorabilia are well balanced. So once again the design won’t be a reason to pass this expensive book.


To be honest I was in doubt a little for the first time whether to buy this book or not. I like to read the occasional interview in my favourite magazine, but a whole book with interviews… for that price?? The book has obviously a wrong title, since a lot of the writers didn’t write for Elvis at all, most of them were just happy that Elvis recorded their songs. Anyway, curiosity won again and I decided to go for it. When just thumbing through it at first, I found myself reading more than I intended to do. It has something catchy to see all those positive remarks about my idol. Obviously it isn’t a book to read from A to Z (at least not for me), but more something you read a few chapters in, put it away, pick it up again… for that one special song you are just listening too, and so on. All together I was positively surprised by the attraction it has. There is one big minor though… there is no biographical information on the writers at all. I would have thought “hey, since I’m putting this all together… let’s be as complete as possible”. Basic info like a birth date, day of death (if known of course ;-)), hometown, martial state and such would have made it much, much better.

The “Elvis CD” with the book is a kind of “greatest hits live” that we had a few years back. Every fan is happy with 23 (officially) unreleased live recordings in superb sound quality. I know I will keep it separated from the book, so I can play it regularly. A pretty rough version of “Polk Salad Annie” and beautiful renditions of “Something” and “I Just Can’t Help Believin’” were the highlights to me.

The “demo CD” is something to skip through once to me, although I have to admit that “Wearin’ That Loved-On Look” by Dallas Frazier is pretty good, maybe I’ll put that on my MP3-player. The only thing you can say (but we knew that already) is that Elvis stayed pretty close to the demos most of the time. It happens that I like Elvis’ voice more 10 out of 10 times (in the case of these demos)… so I’ll stick to the known versions. Nevertheless it’s a fun addition to the project.


To me this book is far from essential, certainly since it is not complete in my eyes. For the die hard collectors and people with too much money in their wallet it might be a nice buy though.

Buy at Amazon.co.uk
Martin DJ wrote on December 15, 2006
It's a wonderful book, though not without its flaws. For instance: Larry Muhoberac is not listed as the pianist on the 1969 Vegas recordings. Burt Bacharach doensn't mention Elvis at all in his interview, which makes the inclusion of this interview rather pointless. The same goes for the Mitch Leigh one. He says: 'I had no idea Elvis Presley recorded "The Impossible Dream," nobody told me. I'd like to hear it one day.' Why wasn't he sent a recording of the song, so he could comment on it? Otherwise: lots of great anecdotes, a highly recommended.
Greg Nolan wrote on December 17, 2006
Interesting comment but keep in mind that this book indeed sprang from a series of articles that the author (Ken Sharp) was doing, and before he knew it, the book kept growing and growing... Do you really think (especially if you've seen the Australian Elvis website interview with him that he should have waited even longer to get each writer to sit down and listen to each Elvis version of their song(s)? This book was a huge endeavor. Still, I would eventually want to have such loose ends closed, if only in, say "Elvis the Man, the Music" magazine...
Dan The Man wrote on December 17, 2006
Here's to different opinions. I Find WFTK Essential in the understanding: Do You want to know the story behind the songs? I find this book a refreshing release with a new angle toward Elvis. This books mainly aim is to show whats behind Elvis' songs. I don't think the price is something to talk about in the first place, not to talk about at all. All E folks are different, havent heard the cd's yet but I'm reading the book like hell. Here is to Lex: I don't fit your cases, but I like it any way.
Ton Bruins wrote on December 19, 2006
I skipped this one. Just too expensive for me. I would buy it only for the second CD with the Elvis tracks on it and that makes it too expensive don´t you think ? I didn´t buy all those book/CD projects from the FTD label. It´s a shame that the prices of those projects are that high !
Steve V wrote on December 19, 2006
I skipped it to. Would like to have it, but the cost is just too high. I dont know why FTD charges such hefty prices for their product. Surely, they can come down a bit.
marty wrote on December 19, 2006
I think that listening to the original demos submitted to Elvis and reading about the stories behind these (and many other) songs is fascinating. It gives someone that is very familiar with Elvis’s recordings (being a loyal fan for almost 30 years) a new perspective. And this is refreshing, since not many new Elvis recordings are left in the vaults of RCA to release. Thank you FTD for this release. Hope for more similar releases in the future…
You Dont Know Me wrote on December 19, 2006
I feel this book is a "KEEPER" and one that FANS of Elvis will return to again and AGAIN many, many first hand accounts from the songwriters of viewing the king in concert in the 70's AND meeting him as well.This kind of experiences made the book essential for me. The CD's are less interesting but still much MORE than i expected and i'm certainly repeat playing them.In summary if your a 'shallow' Fan or passing fan, then this combination is NOT for you..however if you want to see deep behind and into Elvis and your a person of deep understanding....then i feel this book is an essential book you should KEEP for the Rest of your life-the Cover is stunning and the layout Excellent...i waited a long, long time but i certainly don't regret buying it! What a Christmas Present-really it's hard to top the sheer quantity of EFFORT and research put into this expensive FTD product- did i like it -YES , YES and YES again!
Rob Wanders wrote on December 20, 2006
like to have this project, but too expensive I think. I really want to have the Elviscd. Maybe it will come out on its own one day, in one way or another.
Greg Nolan wrote on December 21, 2006
I don't have this book/CD yet, but surely if I save up, I'll be able to spring for it. Many Elvis fans who visit this site and ones like it have *way* more live concerts then they could ever truly justify (it's almost never ending how many live CDs you can collect), whereas this is a one-of-kind, labor of love, and downright landmark project, from most accounts. As "You Don't Know Me" writes so well:"if your a 'shallow' Fan or passing fan, then this combination is NOT for you..however if you want to see deep behind and into Elvis and your a person of deep understanding....then i feel this book is an essential book ..." Well said. In this way, it is a challenging project. You don't just pop in CDs, although you can (and should) do that. It has to be a font of information never gathered at this level before. I'm betting the price (like most things in any good market) is based on the cost of the production (i.e. Ken Sharp's hard work) as well as what the market will bear...
Steve V wrote on December 21, 2006
I think FTD should have skipped the live Elvis CD in this case. The idea (and a good one) was writing for the King and the demos. 1 cd & 1 book. It would have made more sense & maybe the price would have been cheaper. I agree that we dont need more live versions of songs we have 100 times already.
mature_elvis_fan75 wrote on December 21, 2006
Shallow fan? there should be no elvis cd just the demo cd?the live cd is only reason i bought the book,some people are not into to story telling,deosnt make them shallow or any of the other words that are used to describe those type of fans as some of you like to say,the book is too expensive for some,and since this is suppoe to be for the fans, yes it would be nicer if we had a choice of how to get the unreleased music,instead of having to buy a cd and a book some of us really dont want,come on guys and gals everyone isnt the same,with that said im one of those rare people who doesnt get all warm and fuzzy and the thought of the sun book project but for many others its a big deal,so guess im shallow in that regard also! that is all!
Greg Nolan wrote on December 24, 2006
Those weren't my words but I borrowed them from "You Don't Know Me" because they make some sense in that they objectively describe that some fans just don't want to get that deep into it, correct? Isn't that what a fan is saying when they say that a book about Elvis' song-writers and his original demos doesn't interest them? They are saying that they're really *not* that interested in all aspets of his music, and that's fine. But it is an objective truth, it seems to me, that one is freely admitting they can sit this one out because of "lack of interest" in the subject. I assume this is what "YDKM" meant when he said such fans are more "shallow." It need not be a condemnation of other fans. I personally don't care as much about, say, his personal relations with females, so perhaps that's a blind-spot of my own. But I would probably be able to make the case that his music is his true cultural legacy and much more important to concentrate on. You say: "some people are not into to story telling,deosnt make them shallow..." (sic). But the reality is that this "story-telling," as you put it, is about *history*, Elvis history, that is, the history behind his songs. If a fan is not interested in that, well, then by definition they are not as deep a fan in that they do not want to know all aspects and angles about their man's music. They just want to tap their foot to the music, or collect rare audio, etc. And that's fine, too, but I wouldn't call them total Elvis experts-in-the-making, either. I agree that the Elvis live cuts on the separate disc were probably thrown in to bring in those fans who can't be bothered with books. Such projects (see author Ken Sharp's interesting interview in Piers' Australian site) do cost money and sure, I'm happy to have those just into sound, if not books, subsidize the book. This is one of a kind and I look forward to it.
Steve V wrote on December 24, 2006
Is there a good review of this somewhere? The book, the Elvis performances and the demo disc? Can someone break it down in simple detail?
mature_elvis_fan75 wrote on December 24, 2006
Well first of all i do read storys on elvis,and i have the life in musicbook put out by ernst,it tells of him recording the music and some of the behind the scenes going on's,but to me thats far better than reading storys from song writers,as for the demo disc,i dont think it tells of how elvis made the songs his own, and yes music is the main thing im after when it comes to elvis, believe me i know enough about his life, and we also share the same feelings on the elvis love life,but some would accuse you of being just as shallow for not wanting to know all about his love life,as for being a expert,im a elvis fan,and personally i think thats enough, theres enough so called experts,sorry i wouldnt want the atttide that seems to come with all that so called knowledge, By the way i have the bookand your right if not for the live disc,id not have gotten it so quick,i cant buy everything they put out cd's book.dvd's,so i go for the new music,and so everyone knows this is my oppion and thats all! enjoy yourself people , happy holidays
marco31768 wrote on January 07, 2007
"Writing for the king" is too expensive and... where are the bigger Elvis' composers?? Why make a demo' CD?? I think the most of fans want Elvis' unissued songs not composers' version...
BuzzingBee wrote on February 14, 2007
An excellent book, The additional cds give a full picture of the evaluation of the songs. This is something a non Elvis fan would also be able to read and understand. This is about work, the job Elvis had and where it comes from. Finally, not a cook book or the 1000's biography or photo’s only. I bet that 80% only buys books for photo’s and don’t have a clue what’s written. If I look at the questions I get I’m very sure of it. This is about music the engine of Elvis existents. The center of his success. I don’t take any fan serious in a conversation who is only mindless tapping his feet and buys the so manned re-release of a BMG. Okay you make the money roll but , it doesn’t do credit to Elvis legacy. You’re the ones who would yell at a concert shut up Elvis and sing Hound dog. (Is that respect?) For the ones who can’t imagine this, it really happened! This book gives you knowledge about how and what Elvis means to generations in the Music industry. It’s a historical book.
BuzzingBee wrote on February 14, 2007
About the price, The price is 2 cds and a very high quality print and 400 pag counting. Any book in a bookshop of this size will be costing something like this. You get worth for your money. If you want the Elvis cd only, do what you always do, ask somebody who was wise enough to buy it...
sugartummy wrote on April 19, 2013
A superb book with one great and one interesting CD. My wife thinks is was too costly. I don't agree. I read this book many times and still turn it open. What page it opens to, doesn't matter. It's always interesting. Too bad Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Tony Joe White are not in here. Reading about his music is more interesting than reading about his costumes, right?