Elvis: Encore Performance IV - Back In The Windy City
As many other reviews have said in the past, there are so many Elvis books that are already out and continual releases coming. Then there are a mountain of Elvis videos and CDs to choose from(I have over 1000 CDs, myself and that's after selling about a third of them!). With all of this available to Elvis fans at a time when most budgets are limited, it can be very hard to know what to buy. I consider myself very fortunate to've received a review copy of this book, and I'd like to pass on my thoughts about it.
First off, it's a hardcover book, and well-bound. The cover sports two shots of Elvis - one from '76 and the other from '77, both (obviously) from Chicago. To me, the cover looks nice, and the way the picture of the audience is tinted in the background as to almost become a design is a nice touch. The back cover looks great, with a large '72 shot of Elvis with the spotlight at his back, and two more '72 shots below a '57 shot on the right. (Interestingly enough, the '57 and the main '72 shot never appear on the inside of the book, which isn't so much a shame on the '57 shot since it's been around, but I'd liked to've seen the '72 shot.. thankfully it's large on the back.)
Now for the inside! VERY well laid out. Everything chronological of course. The great part about the way it's done is that the sections are all color-organized at the top of the pages so you know how to find something if you want to go back and look for it. The newspaper clippings and reviews are placed at the end of each section and on black pages, so you can easily locate/relocate those as well.
The introduction talks about Elvis connection to Chicago, including a nod to fan/singer Ral Donner and then about Joe Tunzi's Elvis release history. After that, a small section on Elvis' '57 appearance there, then about "In The Ghetto" and it's Chicago origins. The '57 pictures included in this have been seen before (especially if you have the Shaver "The Elvis Book" volumes, they're huge in there!), but the March '61 photo and accompanying newpaper article were new to me and very welcome.
The rest of the show sections have text talking about the lead-up, the show, and then mentions of the reviews Elvis got (some of which are included in each section.) I found them nice, though some fans may think of the text as more than a bit "rose-colored," which some exceptions. I doubt that too many fans who had gone to see Elvis were there to pick him apart, and the text goes along with that mindset. I also enjoyed the line about one reviewer's "almost obligatory mention of his weight". With all the crap these lucky-to-be-there idiots gave Elvis in the papers, I enjoyed them taking some licks of their own, even if it is 30 years later in something they'll probably never see... *ahem*.. but anyway..
As for the pictures, they're a great selection. Some I'd seen before, a lot I hadn't, but great quality and lots of them. This is a matter of taste, but for "picture showcase" books, I like to have the shots as large as possible so I can see all the details of them - picture collages can be nice, but too many can almost seem like a waste of the pictures. Here the pictures are one per page most of the time, which is great (the few collages seen in this book are well-done, though). The inclusion of ticket stubs was a nice touch. Also on the pictures, it's pretty interesting how differing lighting in a picture can make a person look so different. In some of the '77 shots, for instance: In regular lighting, Elvis looks thick but tanned and fairly healthy. In the blue/red combo lighting, he looks much worse (to me). It just reinforces for me that pictures don't always tell the full story - good or bad.
The very last section is an interview with Joe Tunzi about how he became a fan and his experiences seeing all of Elvis' Chicago shows, getting to meet him, as well as what he remembers of Chicago's reaction to Elvis' death. While obviously not as interesting as the Elvis pictures, I do like hearing the stories of other fans and enjoyed the read.
Now for the all-important question.... is this worth your money? I think it is. The pictures look great and are a large size, and the price is obviously cheaper than if you were to buy all of those shots outright. But beyone that, it's all well put-together and organized - you can tell a lot of care went into this one. Definitely one of the best JAT books to come along in awhile, and I'm glad to have a copy.
All Elvis fans are different, so always have a look yourself before you buy, but the above is my opinion of the copy I was given.
(just a fan, and proud of it)
PS: as a side note, I noticed that it's printed in Canada - doesn't mean anything to the rest of you, but my wife is from Canada so we got a bit of a kick out of that.