Finally, fifty years after Elvis' first appearance on the Louisiana Hayride a book, documenting the shows from which we all know the recordings, came out. The book is written by Frank Page (announcer at the Hayride) and Joey Kent (owner of the remains of the Hayride) and published by J.A.T. Publishing.
The book comes with a colorful cover but is black and white inside. The quality of the pictures inside is very good, certainly concerning the age of the original images, nearly fifty years (Photoshop probably lent a hand here). The size of the book is standard Tunzi and contains 96 pages.
The design is like a scrapbook, and fortunately a lot of material is added to this “scrapbook”. The text is printed in a large font, and close to the middle of the book so you have to fold it open to read it all.
In the book Frank Page writes his memories down on paper, describing Elvis’ performances on the Louisiana Hayride and with that his rise to fame. In contrary to the first part of the Guralnick biography and Alana Nash’s biography of the Colonel, both dealing with the same years we now have a real illustrated version of these magical years.
The book is filled with a lot of new pictures and more interesting, a lot of memorabilia. Never saw the writing of Vernon and Gladys or the original Hayride contract. One girl listening, Joyce Railsback, was clever enough to keep a diary, entering the songs Elvis performed. One of her first entries after hearing Elvis sing “Fool Fool Fool” was “he has a strange and different style and may go places with it”. She certainly wasn’t a fool writing that down.
Besides the information on Elvis, the Louisiana Hayride itself and some of the names who performed there are described in text and pictures too.
The CD that comes with the book sounds better than the many CD’s we know with these (radio) recordings. In stead of replaying some parts the improvement here lays in the new digital remastering. Although we must add that Elvis sound very up-front and the band much to the back. Especially on the first two tracks it sounds a bit “fragmented”, like the bad pars have been cut out.
The conclusion can be very short: this book is pure rock and roll, and you can read about the birth while listening to it. A follow up is planned, we can’t wait!