Elvis@argentina 1963 / 1969
by Carlos R. Ares
English language edition reviewed by Nigel Patterson, December 2020
Elvis@Argentina 1963-1969, Carlos R. Ares, Argentina, 2020, Hardcover (d/j), 197 pages, Illustrated, ISBN-13: 978-9879519615
‘I vividly recall the unequalled emotion of opening a newspaper and seeing those magical words in black letters: “NOW SHOWING” (Carlos R. Ares)
The Narrative and Visuals
Well known South American Elvis identity, Carlos Ares, recently released the second volume in his series of coffee table books chronicling Elvis in Argentina.
My first observation is that Claudia Giacobbe’s English translation is excellent. There is also a neat Foreword by noted Elvis world identity, Henrik Knudsen (Elvis Unlimited/Memphis Mansion, Denmark). Henrik rightfully notes that Carlos Ares is a name recognised (and respected) around the world.
Carlos Ares’ text is a comprehensive account of its subject. Elvis’ records, films, sheet music and media coverage during the seven year period are all detailed, and it is another terrific release. The first volume was rated as one of the best Elvis book releases of 2018, and the same can be said of the second volume in 2020!
Carlos sets the scene and tone for his book in his introductory section:
Elvis Presley’s 60’s career discussed in this book is perhaps the most controversial, as it is often referred to as that of “the Elvis movies”.
A categorisation that, in addition to being simplistic, is inaccurate.
For your understanding: although Elvis filmed several films during these years, and some of them are forgettable, it is no less true that he produced wonderful art.
For those who enjoyed that era, I hope this book makes you relive those unforgettable experiences. And for the younger ones, share an idea of what really happened with Elvis Presley in Argentina in the 60’s.
Film and record reviews are both positive and negative and reflect a changing critical (but not necessarily fan view) of Elvis’ career. They are often written with the interesting Spanish style of expression. For instance, La Razon newspaper was initially on Elvis’ side:
Despite all predictions, Elvis Presley, who will soon be turning 30, still retains the flame and energy he displayed in 1955.
However, by the time Rubias Contra Pelirrogas (Frankie and Johnny) was released, La Razor had turned. Its review included:
The occasional picturesque foray into Russian music, in true Presley style, is integrated with a selection of mediocre, uninteresting songs on this new soundtrack. The album listening is monotonous due to a hybrid theme which does not manage to merge its own edges, except for the singer’s color. The LP presentation matches the singer’s mind. In short, “The decline of an idol.”
Elvis@Argentina 1963-1969 is not just a descriptive narrative. Carlos Ares’ text is thoughtful and insightful. About Kissin’ Cousins he rightfully questions, ‘Could this be filmed today?’
The narrative includes interesting production and release background to Elvis’ film and record releases in Argentina, and while the book is primarily about Elvis’ reception in Argentina it also includes biographical information about Elvis and details of socio-political events relevant to the time. For instance, there is a very interesting discussion about the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and its relationship to a changing popular music landscape.
The hundreds of color and b&w visuals comprise record, film and memorabilia artefacts, and are a pleasure to view. The book has a wonderful variety and balance of imagery throughout its nearly 200 pages. Stand-out photos include full page color images of many Elvis film posters, record covers and record labels – I particularly liked:
- a set of photo stills from Chicas! Chicas! Chicas! (page 23)
- Rubias, Morenas Y Pellirrojas (page 41)
- Los Discos De Oro De (page 49)
- Loco Por Las Muchachas (page 123)
- the promotional photo included with the Harum Scarum/Fiesta en el Harem LP (page 155).
The non-English titles of Elvis’ record and film releases add an interesting dimension for the reader as do the posters and covers with very different design images to their US-UK counterparts. For example, Tickling Elvis; Fiesta in California, and En Fuga de su Destino – they will be new to many readers and stimulate our interest. Who would have thought that En Fuga de su Destino was the title used for Clambake?
The periodical use of color pages and color backgrounds also adds to the attractiveness of the book.
Retouched photos of Elvis were common during Elvis’ career and those appearing in Elvis@Argentina 1963-1969 are intriguing given the different look they give Elvis, and they don’t disappoint. One, on page 106, is particularly striking.
Similarly, the large range of impressive archival material attracts attention – the many press clippings are an important archival record of media focus on Elvis.
The news is often fascinating, including rumours of Elvis touring Argentina, the impact of Ricardo Meija (a keen promoter of Elvis) leaving RCA, and information and images for the very rare Revidicos release featuring a cover version by Rolo Moreno of Elvis’ Viva Las Vegas. I did find it interesting though, that the author elected to provide a full page to its non-Elvis back cover – however, I must say I have always enjoyed Cinzano. On the issue of Elvis touring Argentina, the author comments:
“Argie” idiosyncrasy in our news media is somewhat difficult to explain, but those of you who have read “elvis@argentina 1956/1962” will not be surprised to find (with evidence) how these irresponsible reporters continued to rumble about “confirmation” of Elvis’s visit to our country.
….you might think this story was featured in a gossip column only, but that wasn’t the case. Prestigious newspapers such as Clarin and La Razón also published articles about “Presley’s Argentinian gigs.”
Other interesting information includes missing ‘factory sheets’ for a number of 33 rpm Compact single discs manufactured by RCA and details of singles where the A and B sides were switched, for example, Todo Lo Que Soy (All That I Am) was designated as the A side in Argentina in preference to Fiesta en California(Spinout), which was the A side elsewhere.
The titles for various sections of the book are also well done and nicely presented (grabbing your attention and interest) – they include: Diversion en Acapulco; Amor en Las Vegas; El Carrusel del Amor; Tickling Elvis; and “Rock-A-Bye Baby”. Other references have a pleasant charm, such as: ‘A Devalued But Funny Harem”.
The page design, as with the first volume, is strong with text and visuals nicely placed, avoiding any overcrowding (which could easily have been an issue given the voluminous number of images, clippings, etc in the book) and ensuring good use of white space to enhance reading and viewing pleasure. As noted earlier, the use of a number of color pages is a nice touch and visually interesting. The pages are high quality paper stock and tightly bound into the spine of the hardcover. A dust jacket completes the package.
Elvis@Argentina 1963-1969 also includes a Table of Contents, About the Author, a Complete Discography (including details of Unissued RCA Master Tapes) and Complete Filmography for 1963 to 1969, as well as a Brief Showbiz Chronicle (co-authored by G
onzalo Corral San Martin and Carlos Rodriguez Ares) – this latter section chronicles major show business events of a largely non-Elvis nature. But with names like The Beatles, Paul Anka, Jose Feliciano, Sacha Distel, Connie Francis, Bye Bye Birdie, Vanessa Redgrave, and (the French Elvis) Johnny Hallyday, it is a welcome inclusion which adds context around the period. Argentine readers will also appreciate information about South American stars.
Verdict: Elvis@Argentina 1963-1969 is another fine release by Carlos Ares. With a great design that is bright and colorful, strong, thoughtful text, and visually pleasing images, it lives up to its intent of providing a record of Elvis in Argentina during the titular seven years - the highs, the lows, and importantly, the artistry of the King of Rock and Roll. This release is an important archival record of its subject. The next volume in the series won’t be published until at least 2022 – I for one, cannot wait.
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Book Review by Nigel Patterson.
-Copyright EIN January 2021
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Coming tomorrow EIN’s interview with Carlos Ares