'Elvis UK 3'

The Ultimate Guide to Elvis Presley British CD Releases 1983-2005

- Book Review by Nigel Patterson -

'ELVIS UK3' The Ultimate Guide to Elvis Presley's British CD Releases 1983-2005.

Co-authors John Townson and Gordon Minto's latest reference work comprises 1400 pages (containing over a million words), and features 4,000 plus high quality black and white and colour illustrations. It provides the definitive guide to Elvis's UK compact disc releases and details the development of the medium from the 3 CD set The Legend - the world's first ever Elvis compact disc in 1983 - in meticulous and unprecedented detail.

Every single, RCA, BMG, FTD and third party album (all 450 of them!) issued up to 2005 are written about individually in fascinating detail, arranged in chronological order, carefully cross-referenced, while charting and describing company and industry developments along the way. It has been painstakingly researched over many years, and features many contributions by former RCA / BMG personnel who helped with key background information.


EIN's Nigel Patterson has spent plenty of time reading through this massive work and here presents his in-depth review ...


Elvis UK3 - The Ultimate Guide to Elvis Presley's British CD Releases 1983-2005

By John Townson and Gordon Minto

Independently published, UK, 2021, Digital format, 1,402 pages, Contents, Introduction, Author’s Note, Illustrated, ISBN: none

 

Content

In 1987 and 2002, John Townson and Gordon Minto released two critically acclaimed volumes on Elvis’ vinyl output in the UK. In 2021, they have continued their examination of Elvis’ British releases with the publication of Elvis UK3, an incredibly detailed narrative and visual record of his CD releases in the UK from 1983 to 2005. Elvis UK3 maintains the high standard set by the earlier volumes.

The first Elvis CD, The Legend (3CD), was released in the UK in December 1983. Reflecting the fledgling nature of the format, UK fans had to wait another 12 months until the release of not one, but three, Elvis albums, in December 1984. By that time, the flood gates for the CD medium were starting to strain.

As with the authors’ earlier volumes, the information in Elvis UK3 is exhaustive. Importantly the major sections in the book are arranged in a logical order. The main sections comprise:

  • Background Information
  • CD Features
  • CD Albums
  • CD Singles
  • Various Artist CDs
  • Promotional CDs
  • CD-Rs
  • Songs, Interviews and Spoken Word
  • Song Index
  • Interview/Spoken Word Index

The main section detailing all 450 of Elvis’ UK CD releases between 1983 and 2005 comprises a massive 900 pages! There are also separate ‘bare bones’ chronological and alphabetical listings for each category of CD (album, singles, various artists, CD-R’s, etc).

Each CD entry includes:

  • Title
  • CD Release Number (the authors number the releases from 1 to 450)
  • Track Listing
  • Writers
  • Versions
  • CD features such as Matrix numbers, Bar codes, Running times, Mechanical rights societies, SPARS codes, Source identification codes, Booklet details, Inlays, Bonus tracks, RCA spectrum, etc
  • Detailed additional release information

The page design is strong and there is a nice balance between narrative, visuals, and tables (see some sample images on the ELVIS UK3 website).

 

A look at one of the early CD releases back in 1985

Other informative topics and listings provide a diverse range of interesting technical, legal, and other details, including:

  • A Technical Note
  • Back Catalogue CDs
  • Bonus CDs
  • Budget Releases
  • CD Sales
  • CDs not released on vinyl
  • Company stuff
  • Digitally Remastered
  • Factual inaccuracies
  • Fan Club CDs
  • Licensing Process
  • Live recordings
  • Mid-Price Releases
  • Newspaper CDs
  • Original vinyl albums modified for CD
  • Pressing plants
  • Price Codes
  • Price Structures
  • Public Domain
  • Production Errors/Omissions
  • Repressings
  • Song title index
  • Variations
  • Worldwide releases

To say that Elvis UK3 was well-researched would be a serious understatement. There is so much information in this book that it is difficult to comprehensively review it all.

While many collectors will be most interested in the technical details for each entry, the author’s narrative is excellent.

The depth of research undertaken, and reflection by, Townson and Minto is well reflected in this observation about the release of the first-ever Elvis CD, The Legend boxset:

However, clear evidence that this project was done in a hurry can be discerned by examining the contents of the booklets. Unfortunately, there was no proper script commenting on these songs, but rather a simple track listing of songs featured, giving the writers’ names and running times………Pages 2-6 gave the recording data of each track (in the case of ‘I Want You, I Love You, I Need You’ incorrectly using the 11 April 1956 recording date, though it is now known that this was actually cut on 14 April 1956), along with the session men used, while page 7 advertised other RCA artists with material available on compact discs. It had all the hallmarks of being “filler” material.

 

In relation to the popular Presley The All Time Greatest Hits double CD set released in 1987, Townson and Minto comment:

The accompanying booklet is an impressive twelve pages long – demonstrating that a considerable degree of care and attention had been given to the project (even if some of the information turned out to be suspect!) The front cover design was identical to that of the LP. The colour photo was taken in Hollywood by photographer, Frank Powolny, between the 4 and 6 September 1956 on the set of Love Me Tender was previously unseen and was set against a red background.

The small differences between original issues, reissues and similar CDs are documented in fine detail. While descriptions of every small difference between issues and reissues of the same or similar CD may seem dry and repetitive, Townson and Minto’s engaging writing style goes beyond just description and injects interest. Discussing the UK 2005 edition of the UK single for the Junkie XL remix of A Little Less Conversation (originally released in 2002), they comment:

Yet this new CD version was an entirely new coupling, as the original recording was dropped and therefore, by definition, not a copy at all. It was also different from the US single which coupled the radio edit with the original recording. There seems to be no logical explanation as to why this CD was issued in this form in the UK. It made neither artistic or commercial sense.

Elvis UK3 also takes down various myths along its journey. For instance:

Contrary to some suggestions, E1 (30 #1 Hits) was certainly not a project hurriedly prepared to capitalise on the phenomenal, and somewhat unexpected, worldwide success of ‘A Little Less Conversation’ – the JXL remix version – in the summer of 2002. In fact, the phenomenon occurred quite late in the process of preparing the album…..

 

A ten CD set released in Germany as early as 1990!

There is also an interesting discussion about Fan Club CDs:

Understandably, many people have dismissed these CDs as cheap and unnecessary items – perhaps because most of them appeared extremely amateurish in terms of appearance and general level of care. And while that view has some merit, it is important to remember that when they were first issued, a number of them contained interview and spoken word material not previously available officially, and so they fulfilled a gap in the market. Of course, the material was obtained from various sources, including other European fan clubs – as there was always a certain amount of cooperation, as well as a competitive edge – between the various organisations.

Serious Elvis collectors and musicologists will be interested in this information in ‘Postscript: ‘I Love You Because’:

However, a puzzling situation regarding the use of takes 2 and 3 emerged when The Sun Sessions CD was issued, resulting in two different versions of the CD being in existence.

Many readers will appreciate the ‘hacks’ for identifying mid-price and ‘budget price’ releases.

One of the great things about Elvis catalogs is that you can identify how many releases were in a particular series. For instance, Elvis UK3 has a neat discussion about the eight CDs in RCA/BMG’s limited time ‘Flash” or “Lightning’ series of newly released albums at a special price.

 

Elvis' classic SUN sessions are examined along with where every track and outake has been released over the years.

There are also doses of humour within the 1,400 pages of the book. For example:

Of course, some back calalogue CDs (not reissues) had their packaging upgraded, which meant in several cases the song lyrics were printed also…… What seems obvious though is that in several instances the lyrics were often copied directly from foreign releases, apparently without anyone checking them over for accuracy. The result of this was a number of ‘howlers’ – mistranslations – of some lines.

Example 1 Run On – from How Great Thou Art, ND83758 (CD29)

Verse 3 reads: ‘Some people go to church just to sit in fire’

Should read: “Some people go to church just to signify

There is also a detailed consideration of the difficulties associated with the titles of albums, an issue also relevant to cataloguing Elvis related books.

 

A neat look at all the official 'Moody Blue' releases

Visuals

As noted earlier, there are more than 4,000 images in the book (see sample pages). They are largely in glorious full-colour. They are well placed on each page and they are impressive. Each entry features the front cover, back cover, and disc(s) images, and throughout the book there are also visually attractive photos of banners, posters, publicity photos, etc.

Other comments

The authors have deliberately not included a price guide for each CD listing. The subjectivity involved, dynamic nature of prices, and the myriad of factors affecting values, means price guides are often redundant as soon as they are published. However, the authors do draw attention to those releases that are rare or of particular interest to collectors. In addition, they offer a view on the merits (or lack thereof) of some other CD releases.

For example, regarding the CD album, elvis PRESLEY THE INTERVIEWS, released on the PRISM Leisure label in 1996, they comment:

The only commendable feature about this CD was its running time: a massive 78 minutes plus of interviews, press conferences and miscellaneous broadcast memorabilia. Close inspection reveals though that the contents were familiar ones, and there can be little doubt that the source of the tracks lay firmly with two CDs issued by Box 4 Records. [the two CDs were Elvis Answers Back and Elvis Sails]

As you would expect in a mammoth work comprising more than 1 million words, there is the odd grammatical or other error (but these are very minor).

 

Some semi-official CDs also feature, including this very collectable '60 Million TV Viewers'

 

Flipbook format

Not surprisingly, the authors found that to independently publish a 1,400-page, niche market, book with 4,000 (mostly colour) images, was prohibitive. For this reason, they chose the digital, flip-book format. Some, predominately older fans, have expressed disappointment that Elvis UK3 is not available as a physical book. However, the author’s decision to publish their new book as a digital download is sound economics in an era becoming increasingly online and where printing costs are only going in one direction (and it is not downwards).

The flipbook format is easy-to-use.  

While the pages appear in two-page format on screen you can easily move the pages around on the screen to focus on any part(s) of either page you are especially interested in.

Moving between pages using the backwards and forwards buttons is simple. The search function is excellent and the page magnifier is easy to use via one click magnification or via more detailed zoom using the thumbwheel.

Magnified text of a very interesting discussion on the FTD label possibly being launched in 1994.

The print function works easily using iMac/Safari and pc/Firefox although we encountered some print issues with Chrome. The authors note that you should make sure your internet browsers are up-to-date.

It would also be nice to be able to download and store the book on your hard drive, but the technology is such that it has to be accessed each time from the fliphtml5.com server.

The flipbook format will likely limit sales of the book as it is not available to buy on Amazon sites.

Not surprisingly, with more than 1 million words and 4,000+ images, pages can appear quite busy, particularly on small screens. For this reason, EIN tested Elvis UK3 on four platforms - a 28” computer monitor, 14” tablet, iPad 8 and a 6.5” android mobile phone.

There were no issues when reading Elvis UK3 on the 28” monitor. The print is also very clear on an iPad but trying via a 14” tablet screen, we found either the magnifier option or full-screen option was needed for the most comfortable reading. Due to the density of information on each page, Elvis UK3 is not suited to reading on a mobile phone (this may not be a major issue for most Elvis fans, but it is a consideration for those predominately younger fans who use their mobile phones for most of their online experience).

 

A complimentary CD, Elvis Beyond the Legend, is also available from the authors.

The digipack, pic disc CD features 23 tracks (all previously released) – 22 music recordings and the extended version of Elvis’ interview which first appeared in November 1956 in the US magazine called Elvis Answers Back and later as a flexi-disc in Teen Parade magazine.

The 22 music tracks are a strong mix of rockabilly, rock and roll, blues, and pop ballads from the 50s and early 60s. They include Blue Moon; Mystery Train; I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone; Rip It Up; Too Much; I Want To Be Free, (You’re So Square) Baby; I Don’t Care, Paralyzed; Hard Headed Woman; I Need Your Love Tonight; Santa Bring My Baby Back (to me); and I’m Not The Marrying Kind. All but three of the tracks (I Feel So Bad; Little Sister and Angel) are in mono. The sound quality is excellent.

As explained in the informative 8-page liner notes booklet, they were all selected as they were certainly worthy of, but excluded (for space reasons), from the first Elvis CD, the 3CD boxset, The Legend. Having to leave out such a strong group of recordings highlights the depth of Elvis’ recordings over the period.

Elvis UK3 has the distinction of being the largest single volume published about Elvis. For many years that honor was held by Dave Petrelle’s voluminous and highly detailed 959 pages compendium of all-things musical (and more) in the Elvis world, Solid Gold Elvis (ISBN: 097109621X). Petrelle surrendered the title in 2013 with the release of The Elvis Presley Handbook Everything you need to know about Elvis Presley (ISBN-13: 978-1488502507). Based on Internet sourced material (and therefore variable in factual quality) it comprised 1,157 pages (with a reasonably small font size) and can still lay claim to being the largest “physical’ book published about Elvis. Elvis bookphiles may be interested to know that Christopher Byrnes Matthews ‘Name Code’ trilogy holds the record for the most pages around a specific theme at 1,741 pages, while Peter Guralnick’s two-volume Elvis biography totals 1,345 pages).

 

Verdict: Elvis UK3 is an outstanding reference book. The authors are to be congratulated on what they have achieved after what was a very long and must also have been an incredibly taxing process. Collectors are well known for requiring every minute detail regarding the items they collect. They will not be disappointed with this release. Apart from the obvious information on each CD, exploring the nooks and crannies within the 1,400 pages of Elvis UK3 uncovers reveals a rich and interesting treasure trove of information.

 

Please note that the low-res p/c screen grabs used do not show the true clarity of the images or text.

Book Review by Nigel Patterson.
-Copyright EIN March 2021
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.


Below just one of the pages looking at the multiple CD singles released in the UK

Interview: 'ELVIS UK3' authors John Townson & Gordon Minto: Recently published 'ELVIS UK3' The Ultimate Guide to Elvis Presley's British CD Releases 1983-2005' by co-authors John Townson and Gordon Minto comprises 1400 pages with over a million words plus 4,000 plus high quality black and white and colour illustrations.
It is a massive undertaking that provides the definitive guide to Elvis's UK compact disc releases from the ' The Legend' - the world's first ever Elvis compact disc in 1983 - in meticulous and unprecedented detail.
Every single, RCA, FTD and third party album (all 450 of them!) issued up to 2005 are written about individually in fascinating detail, arranged in chronological order, carefully cross-referenced, while charting and describing company and industry developments along the way.
With such a massive book EIN readers have asked questions such as..
- Who is this book actually aimed at?
- Did you learn particular new insights into RCA's marketing on Elvis?
- How important was Roger Semon in changing Elvis' musical legacy
- Was 'The King Of Rock n Roll' box-set the true turning point?
- Should RCA have stuck to 'The Beatles' approach of only one essential release per year?
- Why is it a digital release and not a hard-back?
EIN's Piers Beagley interviewed authors John Townson and Gordon Minto to find out more about this amazing work ...
Go here to their fascinating and detailed interview
(Interviews, Source;ElvisInformationNetwork)


'Elvis - Made In Germany’ In-Depth Review: The new MRS 'Elvis - Made In Germany – The Complete Private Recordings’ 4CD set contains more than 3 hours of the private recordings Elvis made while off duty in Germany when he was serving as a soldier in the US army during the 1958 -1960 period and, includes rare tracks from a recently discovered tape comprising over an hour of unheard personal recordings.
The 152-page hardback book contains rare photographs and documents plus a comprehensive text provided by Gordon Minto, which discusses each of Elvis’ RCA studio (non-film) recording sessions held during 1957-58, before focusing on the private recordings he made in Germany.
The BONUS CD features the essential RCA studio masters from 1957-58.

With such an expansive book, along with hours of Elvis jamming with his friends in Germany, there is plenty to discuss as well as finding out what extra material this set contains over the official releases.

Go here as EIN's Nigel Patterson & Piers Beagley provide an in-depth review of this new MRS release

(Book Reviews, Source;ElvisInformationNetwork)


'The World of FTD' In-Depth Review: The new deluxe book 'The World Of FTD' has been received by some lucky fans and Elvis collector Mike Lodge has provided EIN with a very detailed review - of well over 3 thousand words!

The book was authored and designed by Keith Flynn with input from a large number of other Elvis specialists including EIN's Piers Beagley, EM&HM's Trevor Cajiao, Geoffrey McDonnell, Gordon Minto and many others.
It is 1,200 pages, hardbound three book set, chronicling every release by FTD.The book also features 100s of high-quality photos from the collection Erik Lorentzen
KJ Consulting are proud to publish this Box Set which weighs 8 kilos.

Go here to see his very detailed review - plus more new preview pages - EIN thanks Mike Lodge for the review
(News, Source;ElvisInfoNet)


'Ultimate Elvis' Book Review: 'Ultimate Elvis – The Complete And Definitive Recording Sessions' is a this three-volume, deluxe set that not only comprises all the session information available to date, based on Keith Flynn's incomparable website and includes comprehensive notes on each session, discographies, letters, original sheet music covers plus huge index all included in its 1,800 pages.
The book includes around 3,000 stunning high-quality photographs many of them previously unseen, relating to the time period in question.
The promotional publicity for this three-volume set was very impressive with the original publishing date of August 2014 missed as more photographs were discovered and the content expanded. Finally published in December 2014, Elvis enthusiast Brian Quinn checks out this astounding deluxe package to discover if it is as good as promised.
Go HERE to check out Brian Quinn's review - Now updated
(Book Reviews, Source;BrianQuinn/ElvisInfoNet)




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