All posts with more than 3000 Hits, prior to 2008

Fri Jul 15, 2005 1:23 pm

There is no disgrace in using previously published sources, not that Guralnick did not do some fine new interviews. Otherwise you would never be able to write a book on a historic figure. Two major biographies on Benjamin Franklin have come out within the past five years. Do you think there were a copious amount of new interviews in books like that?

One of the best things about Guralnick's book was the way he dug up his little nuggets about the past that may have been lost to history otherwise. I'm thinking of cute little novelties like Elvis endorsing Adlai Stevenson for president in 1956 but also important stuff like the interview in Jet magazine about the "shine my shoes slur". Rather than have another person speculate about what may have happened, Guralnick used a previously published source to give you an interpretation on the question from as close as you could get from the horse's mouth. In many ways contemporary press sources give us a close and "objective" a view of an event that we can find. You have to give Guralnick credit here. All that stuff was there for others authors to dig up as well but they never bothered and Guralnick did.

Also, interviews are not the absolute barometer of truth that we would like them to be. People have their own agendas and shape their memories accordingly. It's not intentional most of the time but memory is just as flawed as any other source.

You can't dispute the map that Hopkins drew for other researchers with his first hand interviews and breakthroughs. But Guralnick would have been foolish if he had not taken advantage of all the research that had come before.

Fri Jul 15, 2005 4:22 pm

Luuk wrote:Jerry Hopkins' book "Elvis" was original. Lots of interviews with people associated with Elvis, including real school mates, were done.
Guralnick simply copied bits and pieces from hundreds of books.


I'm not sure if I agree...I checked a number of times in notes section of Peter's book and found that they were based on his own interviews. He did use Jerry's notes so Jerry has his stamp all over Peter’s book as well.

The only thing that I took exception to was some of the books that he did reference.

Like Elvis What Happened...I read the book in 1978 at the age of 15 and got the distinct impression at that time that I was reading 'yellow journalism'. Not surprising given that the author was also a writer for the National Enquirer! (It's been a long time since I read EWH at the time I thought that it was mostly true but very exaggerated).

bpd

Fri Jul 15, 2005 4:45 pm

I believe you're referring to Steve Dunleavy (the "as-told-to" author). He still writes a column for the N.Y Post and is a part of that Aussie / Rupert Murdoch conservative clique that took that took over that once-liberal paper in the '70s.

LTB is correct that Guralnick used the techniques of a historian - no shame in that. And yes, even the tabloid-like "Elvis- What Happened?" (which I read a good deal of in the '70s and now learn is worth a mint on E-Bay) has to be consulted. A good historian examines everything and weighs what,if anything, is to be trusted. He's not a professional historian, but he's in the mold as a critic and biographer.

I was wondering what critiques there are of Ernst Jorgensen's "A Life In Music" which I'm in middle of now, finally. Some updates are necessary, but what are the pros and cons of the book?
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Another book I long ago had, then sold, and only recently-repurchased is Mick Farren and Roy Carr's Illustrated Record. It's a good one, still!

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Last edited by Gregory Nolan Jr. on Fri Sep 01, 2006 1:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:15 pm

Gregory Nolan Jr. wrote:I believe you're referring to Steve Dunleavy (the "as-told-to" author). He still writes a column for the N.Y Post and is a part of that Aussie / Rupert Murdoch conservative clique that took that took over that once-liberal paper in the '70s.


I stand corrected. I assumed that Dunleavy worked for the Enquirer since some of his EWH articles were published by the Enquirer.

Gregory Nolan Jr. wrote:LTB is correct that Guralnick used the techniques of a historian - no shame in that. And yes, even the tabloid-like "Elvis- What Happened?" (which I read a good deal of in the '70s and now learn is worth a mint on E-Bay) has to be consulted. A good historian examines everything and weighs what,if anything, is to be trusted. He's not a professional historian, but he's in the mold as a critic and biographer.


I agree and when reading Guralnick's book I concluded that if he quoted EWH that his research supported what was published in EWH...it just didn't sit well with me...

Gregory Nolan Jr. wrote:Another book I long ago had, then sold, and only recently-repurchased is Mick Farren and Roy Carr's Illustrated Record. It's a good one, still!


I still have the Farren/Carr book. Again, read it in the late 70's maybe 80/81. I remember that it was a good book...turned me on to more Elvis music!

bpd

Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:17 pm

Just took a look at the Illustrated Record photo from above. Funny, my soft cover is 12" x 12" like a LP. The one above doesn't look to have those dimensions.

bpd

Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:50 pm

The Carr/Farren book is more noteworthy for its critical analysis than its first hand research.

Ernst did a lot of first hand interviews. Particularly, he was one of the first writers to interview Felton way back in the 1970s.

The trouble with his book is improper notation. He has a list of his sources at the beginning of the book but he mixes and matches a bit. For instance, he might use a contemporary Scotty Moore quote and a vintage quote and not delineate between them. The most specific example I can think of is a quote from Mort Shuman about "Little Sister". Shuman died about seven years before the book came out and it's hard to tell if Ernst is quoting from an interview he did or from an interview he picked up somewhere because the quote is never sourced.

The best thing about Ernst' book is the fact that it draws so much from the actual session tapes. A lot of what you're reading in there is what was said at the sessions.

This is why Ernst's book is my very favorite Elvis book as it puts right you in the studio with Elvis.

Sat Jul 16, 2005 12:04 am

Bike is correct: there were a few lapses here and there. The bar is lower for non-historians and in academia, someone would have called him on that.

As for the earlier comments on Carr/ Farren, I mention it aware that these are books more known for critical analysis. I think such books sometimes get over-looked in discussing the epic Elvis bio's. And you're right: this is the later edition I know have. I once had a late '70s version that was indeed the size of an LP and it seems the newer one is missing a bunch of shots taken off of the '77 Special and other "impressionist" photography. Either one is worth getting.

One Elvis book I really found surprisingly good was both editions of the "Rough Guide To Elvis Presley" by Paul Simpson. It's sort of like FECC without the computer screen or electricity, or at least captures some of that vibe! I thought it was just for beginners but it really has some intriguing little essays and analysis of songs and is great to throw in a bag when you are going to travel and need an "Elvis" fix along the way.


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The other really interesting book I had in my hands once upon a time in a Tower Records (that sold quickly thereafter) is David Parker's impressive
tome called: "Elvis for Everyone : The Essential Guide to the Recorded Music of Elvis Presley." It was a terrific walk through all the great Elvis covers of various U.S. and worldwide album, single or other releases. The second edition came out last year. I dare say a lot of love went into making it judging from the looks of it. It's also on my list to get. I assume there's good commentary, as well. But I was just wowed by the looks of it.

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Sat Jul 16, 2005 3:33 am

Gregory Nolan Jr. wrote:As for the earlier comments on Carr/ Farren, I mention it aware that these are books more known for critical analysis. I think such books sometimes get over-looked in discussing the epic Elvis bio's.


I don't know of any other book that provided a critical analysis of all of E's albums. Ernst's book comes close but that was more of an analysis of the session, the songs chosen, the publishing rights, etc...

Gregory Nolan Jr. wrote:And you're right: this is the later edition I know have. I once had a late '70s version that was indeed the size of an LP and it seems the newer one is missing a bunch of shots taken off of the '77 Special and other "impressionist" photography. Either one is worth getting.]


Interesting enough I will have two original copies of the Carr/Farren book soon. A friend of mine is giving me his...as soon as we get together that is. PM me if you are interested. Maybe we can work out a trade...

On another topic...and I know this gentleman isn't popular on this board, however, Paul Litchner's Elvis: The Boy Who Dared To Rock The Definitive was a good book in that it was the only book I could find (until Ernst) that detailed any recording sessions. I used that book for over 20 years...

Please don't kill me...but I have two of them...I bought a second one so that I could keep one in mint condition...it's probably the only one left in the world. :roll: :roll: :roll:

bpd

Sat Jul 16, 2005 7:01 am

bpd wrote:On another topic...and I know this gentleman isn't popular on this board, however, Paul Litchner's Elvis: The Boy Who Dared To Rock The Definitive was a good book in that it was the only book I could find (until Ernst) that detailed any recording sessions. I used that book for over 20 years...

Sadly, that 1978 publication stole ALL the session information from Ernst's "Elvis Recording Sessions," published in 1977 with the help of two other authors. It was then that I knew Lichter was a rat.

DJC

Sun Jul 17, 2005 9:49 am

I will have to cast my vote for Jerry Hopkins. Guralnick's first book was much better than the last as Careless Love appeared to be biased towards Priscilla. The latter appeared to be thrown together unlike Gurlalick's first book Last Train. Hopkins's book in my opinion was much more superior than both of Gurlanicks.

Mon Jul 18, 2005 3:46 am

[quote="drjohncarpenter] Sadly, that 1978 publication stole ALL the session information from Ernst's "Elvis Recording Sessions," published in 1977 with the help of two other authors. It was then that I knew Lichter was a rat.

DJC[/quote]

Let me also say this...I have an LP titled something like Memories of Elvis (or something like that) that Mr. Litchner released. And I've always thought that Paul had a LTTTLE ego problem. (Maybe he thinks he's Elvis). Anyway, I bought Ernst's book and all of the FTDs so I think that I can be forgiven for the Litchner book.

bpd

Mon Jul 18, 2005 3:49 am

MYWAY wrote:I will have to cast my vote for Jerry Hopkins. Guralnick's first book was much better than the last as Careless Love appeared to be biased towards Priscilla. The latter appeared to be thrown together unlike Gurlalick's first book Last Train. Hopkins's book in my opinion was much more superior than both of Gurlanicks.


I didn't pick up the biased towards Priscilla...other than the long quotes from her book...which I've had for 15yrs but never read...somehow I've always thought that her book was a sell out and light weight.

Why do you feel the the book was biased towards Priscilla?

bpd

Mon Jul 18, 2005 5:13 pm

Quoting Steve Dunleavy and Priscilla "Presley" could be a problem for a biographer.

Sadly, there's probably some truth among the dreck in each of these popular books.

Fri Sep 01, 2006 1:01 am

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I finally caught up on my Elvis reading in the last year, finishing Hopkins' original bio and also his "Final Years" book. To my mind, he holds up rather well for his ability to keep a strong narrative going, the way a journalist might. While he doesn't have the fine detail, he also moves the story along. There's something classic about the main one that still shines (factual errors aside) and the follow-up was better than I expected. (He's finally doing a sequel - a do-over?- on this ELvis in Hawaii books...).

Most of all, reading about Elvis in a present tense in Hopkins' the original "Elvis" volume has a charm, as well. There's something forboding about the triumph of Elvis in his Vegas comeback,as well. If nothing else, it's a pivotal book in the history of the history of Elvis Presley and so demands attention. But there's no "versus" when it comes to books. It's not a contest. Both serve(d) their purposes quite well.

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Still, Peter Guralnick's Careless Love (finally got to that,too) is so impressive for its detail and commitment. At times, however, I can see why folks accused him of having lost interest in the project. It was a daunting task and he does succeed, as someone on this thread commented, in making you feel like you had "spent two weeks" with Elvis, as quoted by singer Sheryl Crow.

That was surely part of the point, so the details of this or that nameless fling has a way of filling gaps in our sense of the mundane - and increasingly sad life of Elvis after awhile in the '70s. It also makes you think hard about loving all his '70s concerts and sessions when you factor in how much of a mess he was. I won't let that ruin my enjoyment, but for a time, it did give me pause.

It's no secret that Guralnick is not a huge '70s fan, it seems to me. Guralnick seems to leap quickly and dismissively through the triumph that was Aloha From Hawaii (in career terms, anyway) as well as with the '72 "Madison Square Garden" gigs.

In part, I think he wants you to have the "blur" effect of the man in motion, as well as the fact that not long after ALOHA, life returned, sadly, to normal. And as someone recently wrote on FECC, he made "Elvis In Concert" sound unbelievably bad. I forget the quote, but it was uncharacteritically harsh, probably unfair and a rare slip by Guralnick.

I just wish there was a way for him to have allowed for the ambiguity that would permit praise for sessions like "Today." The author himself seems caught up in the melancholy theme...

The book is a total triumph, however, and manages even at the end, with the stunning detail of his demise, to bring out his basic humanity in a way the wretched Albert Goldman never could.

That final, surprising use of once-happy Presley family as pictured at the end was extremely poignant, too, coming after pages of detail of his death and then the funeral. He brought the whole biography full circle. Amazing.

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As for the Ernst book, it, too, remains a "go-to" book for so many of us. as we enjoy our Elvis records and CD's. I'm really looking forward to an updated "10th (?) Anniversary version!

Fri Sep 01, 2006 4:26 pm

A little off topic but here's Peter Guralnick's 1971 review for Rolling Stone of Elvis Country:

You wonder sometimes just who is controlling Elvis' career. In the middle of a typical movie soundtrack album, Spinout, you come across not only a raunchy "Down in the Alley" but the interpretation by which Bob Dylan would most like to be known. "Tomorrow is a Long Time." In a bland follow-up to his dynamic Memphis album, Back in Memphis, you find a brilliant and impassioned treatment of the Percy Mayfield blues, "Stranger in My Own Home Town." And now at a time when it seemed as if his career must sink beneath the accumulated weight of saccharine ballads and those sad imitations of his own imitators. Elvis Presley has come out with a record which gives us some of the very finest and most affecting music since he first recorded for Sun almost 17 years ago.

Elvis Country is, obviously, a return to roots. If nothing else the album cover, with its picture of a quizzical Depression baby flanked by grim unsmiling parents, would tell you so. Its subtitle, too, "I'm 10,000 Years Old"—taken from a song which weaves mystifyingly all through the record, fading in and out after every cut—should give a clue to its intent. And the selection of material, its manner and presentation, from the Bill Monroe tune which echoes "Blue Moon of Kentucky," the very first Sun release, to the Willie Nelson and Bob Wills blues, is a far cry from the slick country-politan which Elvis has been leaning on so heavily lately in his singles releases.

But it's the singing, the passion and engagement most of all which mark this album as something truly exceptional, not just an exercise in nostalgia but an ongoing chapter in a history which Elvis' music set in motion. All the familiar virtues are there. The intensity. The throbbing voice. The sense of dynamics. That peculiar combination of hypertension and soul. There is even, for those who care to recall, a frenzied recollection of what the rock era once was, as Elvis takes on Jerry Lee Lewis' masterful "Whole Lotta Shakin'" and comes out relatively unscathed. He has never sung better.

But the core of the album, and perhaps the core of Elvis' music itself, are the soulful gospel-flavored ballads, "Tomorrow Never Comes," "Funny (How Time Slips Away)," and the Eddie Arnold-Solomon classic, "I Really Don't Want to Know." Well, it's often seemed as if Elvis bore more than a passing resemblance to Solomon Burke. The way in which he uses his voice, his dramatic exploitation of vocal contrast, the alternate intensity and effortless nonchalance of his approach all put one in mind of a singer who passed this way before, only going the other way. And here he uses these qualities to create a music which, while undeniably country, puts him in touch more directly with the soul singer than with traditional country music. It was his dramatic extravagance in fact which set him apart from the beginning, and it is to this perhaps as much as anything else—to the very theatrics which Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis all brought to hillbilly music—that we can trace the emergence of rock & roll.

There's not much to reproach about the album. Except for "Snowbird," an unaccountable choice to open this album or any other, the choice of material is unexceptionable. It does continue, it's true, a puzzling fascination with Eddie Arnold's songs, but these, too, are invested with Elvis' own particular brand of passion, and even "Make the World Go Away" becomes by transformation a kind of urgent plea. The production is fine and a big improvement on recent records. Instrumentation is perfect, from driving bass and rocking gospel-flavored piano to more traditional fiddle, harmonica, and dobro. On a good many of the songs there's the tasteful suggestion of strings and horns and a chorus appears on about half, but we really haven't heard so much of Elvis in a long, long time, and certainly the element of playfulness in his voice, the degree to which he is willing to take risks is something that has been absent since the very earliest days. There remains only the mystery of the album's theme and the song which gives it its title. Even that is not so much of a drawback as a puzzlement, though, since the song—fragmented as it is- gives promise of being one of his more exciting revival-styled numbers. If only it were put together again.

Well, I don't know what, really, this promises for the future. Elvis has never been exactly noted for his taste. Unlike Jerry Lee Lewis, say, who seems to possess a sure instinct for sticking to exactly what he is good at, Elvis has shown a distressing inability over the years to distinguish his strengths from his weaknesses. What is so encouraging about the album, of course, is its indication that he has not altogether laid waste to his talents, merely squandered them on efforts not worthy of his energy. The energy is still there, though, that much is certain. And if Elvis can only be persuaded to put out an album of blues now, too, we'll have in capsule a picture of the genesis of rock & roll and what first went into the make-up of one of its few authentic geniuses, this brilliant and altogether original performer. (RS 77)

PETER GURALNICK

Fri Sep 01, 2006 6:37 pm

Gregory Nolan Jr. wrote:I believe you're referring to Steve Dunleavy (the "as-told-to" author). He still writes a column for the N.Y Post and is a part of that Aussie / Rupert Murdoch conservative clique that took that took over that once-liberal paper in the '70s.

LTB is correct that Guralnick used the techniques of a historian - no shame in that. And yes, even the tabloid-like "Elvis- What Happened?" (which I read a good deal of in the '70s and now learn is worth a mint on E-Bay) has to be consulted. A good historian examines everything and weighs what,if anything, is to be trusted. He's not a professional historian, but he's in the mold as a critic and biographer.

I was wondering what critiques there are of Ernst Jorgensen's "A Life In Music" which I'm in middle of now, finally. Some updates are necessary, but what are the pros and cons of the book?
Image

Another book I long ago had, then sold, and only recently-repurchased is Mick Farren and Roy Carr's Illustrated Record. It's a good one, still!

Image


The Roy Carr/Mick Farren Book is fanstatsic. I took it out of the library and photocopeid the whole thing. Really, really neat.

I have yet to see any used copies of this book and I visit the Strand in NYC often looking for it.

Fri Sep 01, 2006 6:51 pm

Mike C wrote:I was wondering what critiques there are of Ernst Jorgensen's "A Life In Music" which I'm in middle of now, finally. Some updates are necessary, but what are the pros and cons of the book?


It's the last word for the studio stuff and the background stories from the sessions.

But not so hot for the live recordings [even some officially released songs aren't listed].

I found Tunzi better for the live songs.

Solution ?

Buy both !

Fri Sep 01, 2006 7:08 pm

ColinB wrote:
Mike C wrote:I was wondering what critiques there are of Ernst Jorgensen's "A Life In Music" which I'm in middle of now, finally. Some updates are necessary, but what are the pros and cons of the book?


It's the last word for the studio stuff and the background stories from the sessions.

But not so hot for the live recordings [even some officially released songs aren't listed].

I found Tunzi better for the live songs.

Solution ?

Buy both !


Actually, Greg Nolan wrote this - I just quoted him.
Last edited by Mike C on Fri Sep 01, 2006 7:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Fri Sep 01, 2006 7:19 pm

Mike C wrote:Actually, Greg Noland wrote this - I just quoted him.


Sorry Mike & Greg - my editing was amiss there !

Fri Sep 01, 2006 7:27 pm

Mike, that book can still be found on some on-line sources. I re-purchased it myself in the last few years, having stupidly sold off parts of my collection ten years ago...

Re: Guralnick on "Elvis Country":

"Well, it's often seemed as if Elvis bore more than a passing resemblance to Solomon Burke. The way in which he uses his voice, his dramatic exploitation of vocal contrast, the alternate intensity and effortless nonchalance of his approach all put one in mind of a singer who passed this way before, only going the other way. And here he uses these qualities to create a music which, while undeniably country, puts him in touch more directly with the soul singer than with traditional country music. It was his dramatic extravagance in fact which set him apart from the beginning...."


This is a good point. Even on a "country" record, you'd be hard pressed to compare his vocal as a direct descendant of a nasally-sounding Ernsest Tubb or Hank Williams, even though he surely soaked them up. The Soloman Burke connection is a good one, as there's something similiar with his vocal "pipes" and styling with him and other soul singers like "Mighty Sam" McClain, Oscar Toney, and others.

Thanks for posting that, Matthew.

Sat Sep 02, 2006 7:06 am

I liked both "Last Train" and "Careless Love", but there's no denying that Guralnick is less engaged in the latter. Not in the sense that the essential data is absent, but that the entire volume has a pall cast over it.

It reads as though there was nothing of substance that the author could anchor his tale to...........it has a "Let's get this over with" feel to it. It's vaguely dismissive in a sense I can't really put my finger on.

"Last Train" was a joyful and eager attempt by Guralnick to slip inside those blue suedes and see the world through Elvis' eyes.

"Careless Love" has the feel of a man who, once inside Elvis and finding himself in a jumpsuit, is anxious to cast it off.

Sun Sep 03, 2006 5:36 am

Scatter, here's the difference: Last Train To Memphis comes across as a labor of love. Careless Love has an air of an unpleasant task to be dispensed with.

Sun Sep 03, 2006 6:35 am

I agree with both of you but isn't it fair to say that Guralnick (as sympathetic a writer as can be found) had to deal with the sad reality of Elvis' personal life in the '70s? How does one dress that up or avoid it?

I came to similiar conclusions as you and Scatter, but I also have to admit that Guralnick is generous to a fault. The slide the King encountered in the '70s is hard to get around - and I say that as a fan who tends to look at the glass as being half-full and of course a huge fan of all his '70s work.

Despite my misgivings, Guralnick is rightly praised for his brutally-honest but (usually) exceedingly fair treatment of the King at his worst. I do think his personal lack of enthusiams for Elvis' 70s sessions did tend to color his tepid reviews of a triumph like "Aloha" or albums like "Today"...

As mentioned, his description of the '77 CBS Special is a rare example of Guralnick momentary sliding into a Goldman-like view point.
Last edited by Gregory Nolan Jr. on Tue Sep 05, 2006 9:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Sun Sep 03, 2006 8:53 am

Gregory Nolan Jr. wrote:As mentioned, his description of the '77 CBS Special is a rare example of Guralinck momentary sliding into a Goldman-like view point.

There is nothing in Peter's writing or perspective that can in any way be compared to -- or placed on the same level -- as Albert Goldman's hateful, bigoted rhetoric.

As for this revived thread, it's clear to any careful reader that Hopkins "Elvis" was a very good effort in 1970, but "Last Train To Memphis," Peter's 1994 biography, is in a class of its own, worthy of all the many awards and accolades it has since received.

It is the standard by which all future attempts will be measured.

Sun Sep 03, 2006 9:04 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
Gregory Nolan Jr. wrote:As mentioned, his description of the '77 CBS Special is a rare example of Guralinck momentary sliding into a Goldman-like view point.

There is nothing in Peter's writing or perspective that can in any way be compared to -- or placed on the same level -- as Albert Goldman's hateful, bigoted rhetoric.

As for this revived thread, it's clear to any careful reader that Hopkins "Elvis" was a very good effort in 1970, but "Last Train To Memphis," Peter's 1994 biography, is in a class of its own, worthy of all the many awards and accolades it has since received.

It is the standard by which all future attempts will be measured.
Despite the negatives (Goldman book) there was some brilliant info from the Sun period(sessions and accurate imo descriptions of innovations of Sam as producer and Elvis plus Scotty and Bill) if I am not mistaken. Plus a bunch of good but scatterd info throughout the book. Not for everyone to go through it all...some of it has to be included in the "stew" of information Imo.