By Arjan Deelen
BOOK REVIEW - by Piers Beagley
'Inside Elvis' features Arjan Deelen's interviews with Elvis' musicians, including James Burton, Bob Lanning, Scotty Moore, Jim Murray, Jerry Scheff, D.J. Fontana, The Sweet Inspirations, The Holladay Sisters, Glen D. Hardin, Johnny Christopher, Charlie Hodge, Duke Bardwell, Sherril Nielsen and The Imperials.
The 300-page book contains over 300 photographs from the collections of various high-profile collectors, and most of these are in color and razor-sharp. The artwork and design was done by graphic artist Michael van Werven.
Also included as an extra is a 29-track CD containing various rarities.
With the world in isolation and families neededing support, EIN's Piers Beagley finally finds time to check out this new book....
With the world in lockdown now is the perfect opportunity to invest some time into some quality and thought provoking reading.
While Arjan Deelen’s new book ‘Inside Elvis’ was published back in January, the world quickly spiralled out of control with family and friends needing some support and TLC.
It is only in the last two weeks that I have found time to properly sit down and delve into this beautifully designed book.
The timing is also fortuitous as at the same time I have been listening to FTD’s new release of Elvis live in 1974 (Elvis In California) and a large number of interviews from ‘Inside Elvis’ reveal insightful stories about Elvis at the time.
Musicians such as Ronnie Tutt, Glen Hardin and The Imperials’ Jim Murray help capture what it was really like to spend time touring with Elvis in the mid-seventies.
The book also happens to feature over 50 colour and candid photos of Elvis on tour in 1974 wearing everything from his Las Vegas leather-suit to his Arabian, Mad Tiger and Dragon jumpsuits.
In this way ‘Inside Elvis’ is a perfect companion to my new 1974 listening.
The 300-page book features 16 chapters of interviews with a fine group of Elvis’ key musicians and with each interview complemented with a selection of appropriate photos.
Over the past few decades Arjan has interviewed everyone from Scotty Moore to Charlie Hodge, the Memphis Boys, the TCB band, backing vocalists and 1970 “On-Stage” drummer Bob Lanning and it is obvious that his interviewees are always happy to open up to him.
Arjan doesn’t avoid the tricky subjects and there are times where you can feel the emotions of time spent close with Elvis flowing off the page.
In our recent interview with Arjan Deelen he explained how he had to apologise to Glen Hardin for pushing his questions a little too far.
A decade ago Arjan published a similarly themed book ‘Walk A Mile In My Shoes’ but ‘Inside Elvis’ is not only expanded but a tremendous leap upwards in quality.
It truly is a beautifully designed book.
The book is hardback with quality gloss paper and with a stunning design by Michael van Werven.
The interviews are printed in a good sized font and the selection of photos of Elvis with the interviewees well laid out.
Stylish layout from The Sweet Inspirations interview
Along with the rare photos, the design helps to make the book a very absorbing read.
Graphic designer Michael van Werven deserves accolades for the book's simple but stylish look.
As well as the nicely laid-out interviews with associated images there are also pictorial sections of around ten pages each featuring Elvis in...
August – September 1974, August 1969, May 1977, February - August 1970, July 1969, July 1975, March 1970, June 1972, June 1968, March 1974, Aloha 1973, April - August 1972, August 1971, and 1955 - January 1956.
While I suspect a lot of the photos will be familiar to keen collectors there are still plenty of new surprises along the way.
A lot of the images are very eye-catching and helps capture the feeling of Elvis not only working with the musicians involved but also his loving audience.
There is no doubt that Elvis loved performing on stage and even the May 1977 photos show Elvis happy and not the worn-out performer we often think of.
But it is the interviews that really count and every one helps reveal more about our man.
Arjan’s lengthy discussions with Duke Bardwell, Ronnie Tutt and Jerry Scheff are stand outs but every single interview helps expand our understanding of the personal side of Elvis - from the earlier happiness and the highs to the drama and the difficulties of the later years.
Some delightful extracts that appealed to me include …
Sherrill Nielsen reveals
“The problem with those late-night jam sessions was that they would last forever and ever. Once he got started, we'd be going to daylight. Sometimes they were strenuous sessions, all night long!
With 'Softly As I Leave You' we were in the dressing room, downstairs at the Hilton. Elvis was talking about the fact that... I think it was John Leary who told him the story, the story which is told in the song. Well, I knew this song, so I sat down at the piano and started playing it and singing it, showing him how the song went, in case he wanted to sing the song himself. He started saying the words very quietly, while I was singing. Elvis' father said, "Elvis, that is beautiful. Why don't you do it?". That's all he needed. He sent somebody to find Glen D and that next show we did it for the first time. The first night they didn't have a spotlight on me, I was in the darkness singing. The next night he put a spotlight on me also, and it became a duet.”
Elvis looking surprisingly focussed and happy in May 1977
“The main thing about Elvis is... Elvis was a great artist that was mistreated by greed, by the people that wanted to catch all the publishing,
.. when people keep (quality) songs away from him because they didn't have the publishing, then you're hurting the artist.
I'll tell you how great it was he survived, Elvis stayed being Elvis, with all that crap that he was recording. Not that all those songs were bad, but it just wasn't him, you know. All of a
sudden we had all these good songs for him to pick from ... Mark James, Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham, Wayne Carson and all those guys. All these songs were new, brand new, you know. That makes a difference. That's an inspiration in itself, when you're working with good songwriters."
(At the Stax sessions) It was even more relaxed than I was used to. It was not work. It was fun and we were able to take our time getting things right… Elvis handled himself professionally and there was no whining or depression that I saw expressed from him. He was pretty serious and went about his business.
I'm sure there was a lot going through his mind. So for that fact I remember we did some cutting up. I sang a funny little song that I had written that the Memphis Boys knew. I sang it to him, called Elvis over and sang it to him, and we laughed. While we were recording one of the songs, Felton Jarvis sweeped out of the control room, right in the middle of the recording, and got down on the floor and started gyrating and moving his body and dancing.
Later he told us: "I'll do anything to keep things going for Elvis!".
“I think that was one of the sad parts of the whole thing. Elvis didn't want to be a rock n roll singer. He just didn't want to. I've seen this happen to other artists. They've done that, you know, you get older and want to go on to something else, but people won’t let you. That was part of the tragedy of this whole thing, because Elvis felt trapped. He had a great voice, and wanted to be known for that voice. He wanted to sing songs that showed off the virtuosity of his voice. Rock n roll songs didn’t do that, and he didn’t want to do them. Anytime anybody does a medley of some songs you know they don’t want to do those songs”
“We went to Graceland afterwards... I was nervous just being there. I went out to the living room, and there was this long gold-plated grand piano.... I mean, GOLD! They painted that thing gold (laughs). And I sat down and I was just playing some chords and all that stuff.
Elvis was with Linda Thompson, and they came down. And he came up in my field of vision, I'd seen him come up. He said, "Stand up from that piano, boy".
I thought that I was in trouble for playing his piano. I didn't know what to expect. I said, "Oh man, I'm sorry" and he said, "No, stand up and turn around".
Here coming down my face is this TCB chain and he put it on me. That was a big deal for me. It really meant a lot to me, I didn't expect for that to happen. I was amused by the way he did it. I thought that my ass was in serious trouble for playing his piano and going down to his house when I hadn't been invited.”
One of the really sad parts about these interviews is how many of these key musicians have died in the last decade.
Scotty Moore passed away in 2016 and DJ Fontana in 2018. As they amusingly recall in the interview they kept “working for the man” almost to the very end.
Scotty Moore adds some lovely personal thought including…
A Deelen: Was the 68 Special the last time you saw him?
Scotty: I saw Elvis a couple of times after the 68 Special, went down to the house to talk to him.
When you think about it: I worked with a guy forty years ago, and I’m still working today doing the same.
A.D: Does that surprise you, twenty years after his death?
Scotty: Yeah, sure does! Still making a pretty good living doing this. After forty years! ... you can’t hold a day-job that long. They fire you after about twenty years.
(Scotty) It sure beats picking cotton!
(D.J.) Yeah, sure does! (laughs)
I found two newer interviews fascinating, the one with ‘on-stage’ Bob Lanning (who Arjan Deelen cleverly tracked down only recently) and the final interview of the book with The Imperials’ Jim Murray.
One minor quibble would be that I wished the book had an index. There were times where I wanted to cross reference discussions and places which meant a lot of flicking through the book. The fact that I felt it could do with an index does however indicate how much information and stories the book contains, which cannot be bad thing.
In the last page of the book Jim Murray reveals a truly touching personal memory of Elvis.
It is the perfect ending to a marvellous book.
The Bonus CD: While it is the interviews and photos that count, there is also a Bonus CD that comes with the book.
Featuring 29 tracks with everything from rare Elvis interviews to soundtrack oddities, Gladys Presley singing ‘Home Sweet Home’, Sherrill Nielsen solos, audience concert recordings to the 80’s Disco ‘Elvis Medley’, it is a truly eclectic selection of Elvis oddities through the years. Very like those "A Legendary Performer' compiles of old.
I actually found myself enjoying it more than I thought I would, for instance finding Elvis’ three versions of ‘That's When Your Heartaches Begin’ from 1953 / 56 / 57 back-to-back a clever idea. Sherrill Nielsen’s (painful) solos make sense with respect to the book but officially unreleased inclusions such as ‘Stop, Look And Listen’ (take 7) and ‘Am I Ready’ (tk 5/6) are included purely for rareness sake.
Having the Home Recordings of 1956’s ‘When The Saints Go Marching In’ as well as Gladys Presley’s ‘Home Sweet Home’ between sections on ‘The 60s’ and ‘The 70s’ is a very strange idea and makes little sense in context. As for the 80’s ‘Elvis Medley’ it cleverly confirms Jerry Scheff’s comment “Anytime anybody does a medley of some songs you know they don’t want to do those songs.” Nor do I want to hear it!
The two live tracks 'Hound Dog' and 'Heartbreak Hotel' supposedly from the Cotton Bowl, Texas, October 11, 1956 will have collectors salivating. Unfortunately the audio quality is so, so bad - just screaming girls and a vagueness of Elvis being in the background - that they reveal nothing. They could easily be a fake, they could be real but all you can gather is that at Elvis’ fifties performances you were lucky to hear anything at all from the band.
The CD label design itself is a delight. See the tracklist below.
Overall Verdict: Published in January ‘INSIDE ELVIS’ already has to be one of the best Elvis books of 2020. A top-notch design, and with lots of stories to learn about our hero, this is a beautiful anthology of Arjan Deleen’s interviews. What was it like working with Elvis? What was it like being on the road day after day as the world’s most famous entertainer? The sad fact is that nearly all of Elvis’ close associates have now left the building and learning what we can from them before it is too late helps us all understand Elvis’ complicated story. VIVA ELVIS - If you want a copy make sure you grab it before it sells out.
Please note that the low-res personal scans and photographs used in this review do not show the true quality of the images.
You can see more example pages from the book in our previous interview with the author.
Review by Piers Beagley.
-Copyright EIN April 2020
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.
Click here to comment on this interview
For more info you can contact author Arjan Deeen via email email@example.com
|INSIDE ELVIS CD tracklist
1. The Truth About Me (Original USA Cardboard Disc Version)
2. Treat Me Nice (Undubbed Movie Master)
3. Treat Me Nice (Overdubbed Movie Master)
4. Don't Leave Me Now (With Count In)
5. Interview With "Uncle Buck" (Ron Lipe)
6. My Wish Came True (With Count In)
7. That's When Your Heartaches Begin (Demo Recording)
8. That's When Your Heartaches Begin (Informal Recording)
9. That's When Your Heartaches Begin (Master)
10. Interview By Mario Delagarde
11. Such A Night (Original Mono Single Master)
12. Flaming Star (Binaural Master)
13. Black Star (Alternate Take 5)
14. Mama (Composite Stereo Master)
15. Stop, Look And Listen (Take 7)
16. Am I Ready (Take 5 & 6)
17. Home Sweet Home (Gladys Presley Home Recording)
18. When The Saints Go Marching In (Home Recording)
19. Crying Time (Live August 1970)
20. Crying Time (Live September 1970)
21. Sherill Nielsen Danny Boy
22. Sherill Nielsen Walk With Me
23. 1981 The Original Elvis Presley Medley
24. Love Me Tender (Radio Spot)
25. Viva Las Vegas (Acetate, Movie Version)
26. Hound Dog (Live October 11, 1956)
27. Heartbreak Hotel (Live October 11, 1956)
28. 'Jailhouse Rock' Promo
29. Press Conference - Interviewer Bob Chase 1957
|'ELVIS: The 1972 Press-Conference - The Way It Was and How It Is Today': It is almost 50 years since Elvis held his Madison Square Garden 1972 press conference in the Mercury Ballroom at the New York Hilton.
Elvis is no longer with us but his spirit lives forever. Elvis fans always discover something quite magical when they get the chance to “Walk-a-mile-in-his-shoes” or at least stand in the same rooms and places that Elvis did. Graceland, when not overrun by crowds, feels very special indeed. Standing in the quiet you can almost feel the spirit of Elvis still inhabiting his home. The feeling in Memphis’ Sun Studios can bring fans to tears.
After his 2017 visit to the Las Vegas International / Hilton Hotel, EIN contributor Arjan Deelen recently returned to New York and the Mercury Ballroom, home of Elvis' famous 1972 'M.S.G' press conference.
"The image is one thing, and the human being is another”… a well-known Elvis quote from his press-conference at the Mercury Ballroom in the New York Hilton, on June 9th, 1972. At the time Elvis gave us a brief glimpse of the pressures that he was living under being Elvis, even adding, “It’s very hard to live up to an image, I’ll tell you”.
“First of all, I plead innocent of all charges!”.
Go here as Arjan Deelen revisits Elvis’ New York press-conference - together with photographer Phil Gelormine
'Elvis Unleashed' EIN exclusive Review: The publicity stated... Experience the King Like Never Before With 'Elvis Unleashed'. Elvis Presley returns to big screens across the globe this fall with the new music special, "Elvis Unleashed" featuring previously unseen footage on movie theater screens of Elvis as he filmed the iconic "68 Comeback Special." The two-day cinema event, which includes outtakes and performances that reveal a new side of the King.
"Elvis Unleashed" captures the spontaneous moments and stories behind the legendary special, and sheds new light on Elvis as a cultural icon. Each screening will include a new 30-minute segment with LA writer Randy Lewis in conversation with actor Dennis Quaid, rising pop/country artist Jade Jackson and the esteemed director of the "68 Elvis Comeback Special," Steve Binder, to discuss Elvis's life and legacy.
But does the cinema-event really live up to all the publicity, is there really anything new to enjoy? The answer is that, "the material is amazing and essential viewing, you can tell that Elvis knew that a lot was at stake – he simply works his ass off".
While the US and Australia screenings were cancelled EIN contributor ARJAN DEELEN saw this movie-event in Copenhagen last night - and kindly sent us his on-the-spot review... he notes, "All fans deserve to see this footage"..
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