Sessions 3' - By Joe Tunzi
"Fascinating but flawed"
Tunzi’s extremely detailed 650 page updated Elvis Sessions
book has at last been released after a long 2 year wait.
Aimed at Elvis music fanatics, rather than the general
public, Sessions 3 is a thought inspiring read that
should make it the ultimate Elvis research tool and
an essential purchase.
Prospective buyers however should realise that there is no narrative within the chapters to explain or complement the lists of recordings, these are just ‘the facts’. Competing with the likes of Ernst Jorgensen’s ‘Elvis: A Life in Music’ or David Petrelle’s extremely detailed 960 page ‘Solid Gold Elvis’, Sessions 3 needs to be up-to-date, interesting to browse through and factually correct. I spent an enthralled week poring over all the lists and notes but while the book is packed with an extraordinary amount of fascinating information (good to see some of Sessions 2’s "rumours" have been removed) I do ultimately feel a little let down.
its praise there is no doubt that it is extremely current,
even listing the free TV Guide mini-disc of ‘That’s all Right’
from Aug 11th 1970 - but already however not containing relevant
info about the new FTDs ‘Closing Night’ & ‘Double Trouble’.
of the new photos are just fantastic. I have always appreciated
images of Elvis at his recording sessions since this helps
one understand the feeling, set-up & sound of these important
events. A lot of the photos are true gems, for instance Elvis
wearing a fishing cap at the ‘His Hand In Mine’ sessions and
several new photos from the Soundtracks sessions. There is
also the noted rarity of Elvis in his hotel suite, at a 1973
after-show party, jamming with Mama Cass & others.
print quality however of some of the images could have been
improved and it is obvious that a few are jpeg images, lacking
resolution, which would have looked better in a smaller size.
There is a lot of fine & detailed information here.
like ‘Film, TV & Video analysis’ are truly excellent, including
notes on the filmed footage from TTWII and On Tour - a real
appetite whetter for the future DVD release. The list of (possible)
BMG owned live tapes & soundboards is also exciting. Another
highlight that will excite a large number of fans is the chapter
focussing on known unreleased song highlights along with the
short notes on ‘Rumours & the Future.’
there are several major flaws with the book that cannot be
overlooked, despite the praise heaped upon it by other enthusiasts.
There is no doubt that Joe Tunzi’s forte has always been his
photo books over his information books and the real problem
here is with the format of the book which just begs for a
all the listed sessions are in the same format and font whether
they be Overdubs, Soundboards or Studio sessions. The orchestral
Overdub session for one movie soundtrack song without Elvis’
involvement can even take up 2 pages whereas a crucial Studio
session (ie. One Night/I Beg Of You) can be a bottom-of-page
addition! This is where Jorgensen’s ‘A Life In Music’ chapters,
narrative & layout really shines in comparison.
I am sure that Tunzi’s market is far smaller – and aimed at
us fanatics – the book also annoys since it never lists the
primary release of the Master take. This would be have been
such a simple addition. While nearly all of us know what was
released when & where, with so many listings (including overdubs
of a single track) one can easily get confused. (For instance
was H2WB-0257-14 or SPA5-2870-7 the Master of ‘Mean Woman
Blues’? Why not have ‘Loving You LP’ indicated?)
the start Tunzi’s acknowledges so many fine experts within
the Elvis world yet what he really needed was a good book
designer as a collaborator. It is imperative that an information
& listings book has a proper index, yet there is no index
at all! Even Sessions 2 had a Song Titles index but even that
is totally absent here which is incredibly frustrating.
better would be a complete index including personnel & musicians.
I was recently trying to research maestro guitarist Tommy
Tedesco’s involvement with Elvis but here it just becomes
too hard and you have to use Jorgensen’s book as an index.
there are always going to be mistakes in a book such as this,
there seem to be far too many here that any one of Tunzi’s
acknowledged friends could have spotted. Was this venture
so personal that Tunzi didn’t allow anyone to proof-read the
content? I immediately spotted several errors. From an Australian
point of view, ‘Live Greatest Hits’ was not just an ‘European
release’. However if this omission is because Europe is "all-important"
then why is there no mention of the number 1 1961 single ‘Wooden
Heart/Tonight’s All Right For Love’ or (in quality terms)
the #6 single ‘I Just Can’t Help Believing/How The Web was
again, if collectibility is the key the missed Australian
2002 ‘Burning Love’ 3-track CD single seems a bad oversight.
There is no indication that the Live 1971 Las Vegas recordings
were issued on ‘The Impossible Dream’ FTD & the ‘Standing
Room Only’ LP cover has a different track-list to the one
printed. ‘In The Ghetto’ is referred to with two different
serial numbers on the same page and everyone knows that Ronnie
Tutt unfortunately wasn’t there at Elvis’ final concert. These
are all simple errors that shouldn’t have got to print.
are also some odd omissions in the Soundboard/Highlights sections,
surely Opening Night Jan 26th 1972 is an unreleased highlight?
the positive side there is no doubt that a lot of the information
has to have come via Ernst Jorgensen’s work (unbelievably
not even acknowledged in the book!) along with excellent web-sites
such as ‘Master & Session’, as well as the FECC contributors.
book really is a fabulous compilation of facts & lists that
have been seen on the Internet and one has to be appreciative
of the work that has gone into compiling this book. However,
as with Sessions 2 it would have been a real benefit for Tunzi
to mention the sources of where his "new facts" have come
from and also to note which parts are just speculation.
- Overall there is plenty to be gained in exploring the
book’s detailed content especially if you use it in parallel
with Jorgensen’s ‘Elvis: A Life In Music’ as an index. I found
the lists of rehearsals, soundboards & overdubs quite fascinating
– although the repeated lists of orchestra members could have
been formatted so much better. This is not a cheap book and
at US $75 one should expect a high-quality product. If you
are an Elvis fanatic then Sessions 3 could be for you, but
if you already own Sessions 2 then maybe you should hang on
until Jorgensen updates his book or possibly Sessions 4!
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