Book Review :
ELVIS in concert 1945-1977
Sebastiano Cecere*, Stampa Alternativa/Nuovi Equilibri, Italy, 2012, Flexicover, Illustrated, 794 pages, ISBN: 978-8862222679
Reviewed by Nigel Patterson, June 2012
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Publisher's Book Description (Italian and English translation):
Elvis Ã¨ vivo. Non perchÃ© â€“ come alcuni fan sono disposti a giurare â€“ inscenÃ² la sua morte il 16 agosto 1977. Elvis vive perchÃ© la sua figura, la mitologia che si Ã¨ creata intorno alla sua persona, la sua influenza sul mondo del pop e del rock, sulla societÃ tutta sono immortali.
Elvis Ã¨ stato l'incarnazione stessa dello spirito dei tempi. PiÃ¹ rilevante a fini storici per la seconda metÃ del Novecento di molti personaggi della politica e della cultura cosiddetta alta, Ã¨ stato l'icona della gioventÃ¹ che negli anni Cinquanta reclamava il suo diritto di esistere, divertirsi, spendere e amare in America (e nel mondo). Poi, Ã¨ diventato il simbolo stesso dello show business fino agli anni Settanta inoltrati, quando, tra l'altro, il rock cambiÃ² definitivamente faccia.
Questo libro Ã¨ il resoconto piÃ¹ dettagliato mai apparso, a livello internazionale, dell'attivitÃ concertistica di Elvis, e ci accompagna giorno per giorno nella vita del performer Presley. Consultando migliaia di fonti e raccogliendo pazientemente negli anni testimonianze dirette e indirette, Sebastiano Cecere ha portato a termine un lavoro immane: ha setacciato la stampa locale americana, interpellato decine e decine di persone che hanno assistito ai concerti di Elvis, ascoltato tutte le registrazioni emerse, letto e messo a confronto la sterminata bibliografia â€œelvisianaâ€, rintracciando le contraddizioni e facendo emergere nuove interpretazioni, nuovi dati.
Ãˆ un lungo viaggio nel cuore dell'America, una mappa che ricostruisce affettuosamente, ma obiettivamente, la geografia emotiva di uno Stato e di un ragazzo umile che diventÃ² di colpo la piÃ¹ grande star musicale di tutti i tempi, con tutti i suoi tic, le sue debolezze, la sua profonda umanitÃ . Non a caso, quando si parla di rock, istintivamente si dÃ come data di nascita il 1954, anno in cui Presley compare â€œufficialmenteâ€ sulle scene con il primo singolo...
Elvis is alive. Not because - as some fans are willing to swear - staged his death August 16, 1977. Elvis is alive because his figure, the mythology that has arisen around his person, his influence on the world of pop and rock, on the whole society are immortal.
Elvis was the embodiment of the spirit of the times. More important for historical purposes for the second half of the twentieth century many political figures and so-called high culture, was an icon of youth in the Fifties claimed its right to exist, have fun, spend and love in America (and in world). Then, he became the very symbol of the show business forwarded to the Seventies, when, among other things, changed forever the rock face.
This book is the most detailed account that has ever appeared on the international level, the concerts of Elvis, and takes us day by day in the life of Presley the performer. Consulting sources and thousands of years and patiently gathering direct and indirect evidence, Sebastiano Cecere has completed a huge work: the local press has scoured America, interviewed dozens of people who attended the concerts of Elvis, heard all the recordings emerged, read and compared to the limitless resources "elvisiana", tracing the contradictions and bringing out new interpretations and new data.
It's a long journey into the heart of America, a map that reconstructs affectionately, but objectively, the emotional geography of a state and a humble guy who suddenly became the biggest music star of all time, with all his tics, its weaknesses, its profound humanity. Not surprisingly, when it comes to rock, you instinctively gives as date of birth was 1954, when Presley appears "officially" on the scene with the first single ...
It is not often that EIN reviews foreign language books about Elvis.......for the very simple reason the staff at EIN are not particularly, if at all, proficient in non-English languages.
However, once in a while a book is released which stands out from the crowd. Sebastiano Cecere's, ELVIS in concert 1945-1977, a mammoth 794 pages examination of Elvis' "live" stage appearances is one such book, albeit essentially with Italian text!
Easy to notice grey tags along the outside of the page spine are a convenient way of accessing successive years in the Elvis concert story.
Apart from its staggering number of pages, the book measures a large-sized 29cmX21cm / 12"x10".
The two column page design works a treat and is nicely complemented by good sized font size, excellent grey heading tags and bolded concert name and date tags. The white space usage is excellent.
All in all, the page design facilitates ease of reading and reader satisfaction, even if you cannot read Italian.
Opposite: Archive Image
There is also a 2.5 page Preface written by Bruno Ruffill
and a nearly 9 page Introduction (article) by the author, Sebasatiano Cecere. Both each Concert Year (chapter) (around 2 pages) and each Tour feature an introductory overview section.
While the text is principally in Italian, each concert venue and the show song list are in English. The look and feel of the book give it the presence of an encyclopedia.
Added value inclusions include:
- Each Tour Year also shown in Atlas/map form (by state and city)
Press reports for various concerts
ttendance and gate takings figures for each show
- An interesting array of statistics relating to Elvis' concerts
- Selected Discography for Elvis' concerts comprising title name, city, date and album cover for Sony/RCA/FTD and unofficial audio releases
While ELVIS in concert 1945-1977 is essentially a narrative record of Elvis' on-stage performances
While I didn't notice any obvious previously unpublished photos, there certainly are a number of rare images, and all visuals are date and source cited. It was also not possible to check the general facts presented by the author, and in a dozen excerpts I had translated I encountered only a few typos/spelling mistakes and only one issue identified itself as problematic - see** below). In a book comprising almost 800 pages the odd typo is to be expected.
(courtesy of Paul Gansky)
I note that the publisher's pr suggesting 'thousands of years' research is a little over the top (I know for a fact Sebastiano is not that old) or perhaps the result of faulty online translation.
Given a number of the above elements, collectors and Elvis concert afficionados may still find ELVIS in concert 1945-1977 an important inclusion in their Elvis libraries.
To give readers an idea of the narrative style and substance of the book here are a few excerpts with their (loose) English language translation (courtesy of Google Translate and a liberal dose of EIN's non-perfunctory due diligence):
P. 13 (Introduction)
Un altro aspetto estremamente significo dell'attivita on tour del Colonel e stata la sua straordinaria capita di capitalizzare al massimo la fama di Elvis, investendo pochissimo tempo e denaro in pubblicata, con una verstailita organizzativa che probilmente ancora oggi, nell'epoca dei computer e di internet, non trova uguali.
Another appearance on tour and the Colonel again understood how to capitalize on the reputation of Elvis, investing little time and money in published promotion, with a versatile organization that probably still today, in a time of the computer and internet, would not be equalled.
anche dal punto di vista personale, l'anno era cominciato bene: il 16 gennaio la corte superiore di los angeles gli aveva ragione sulla causa di paternita intentatagli da patricia parker
also from the personal point of view, the year had begun well: on 16 January** the advanced court of los angeles had reason to consider the case of paternity case intentatagli from Patricia Parker
P 698 (introductory paragraph to Tour overview)
27-31 Dec 1976
Quasi certamente di nuovo â€œa corto di liquidoâ€ Elvis accetto, per la seconda volta, di rompere la sua regola di non esibiri nel periodo che intercorreva tra Natale e il suo compleanno e dopo soli quindici giorni di riposo si trovo nuovamente on the road.
Almost certainly a new "short of liquid" Elvis would, for the second time, break his rule of not performing in the period that elapsed between Christmas and his birthday and after only fifteen days' rest he found himself back on the road.
Yahoo Archive Image
There are numerous books dedicated to Elvis' "on tour" performances. The pick of these is of course, Stein Erik Skar's sublime, Elvis The Concert Years 1969-1977.
Other notable releases include the Paul Lichter books E.P The Concert Years and Elvis in Vegas and the two volume set, Did Elvis Sing In Your Hometown (Too)? (Lee Cotten).
Cecere's ELVIS in concert 1945-1977 appears to compare more than favorably to the Skar release on the basis of narrative content. That Cecere documents Elvis' live performances on a 'show-by-show' basis rather than the generally' tour-by-tour' basis adopted by Skar, allows for a greater amount of detail to be discussed/recorded. Another plus is that Cecere includes Elvis' pre 1969 concert shows, starting with Elvis' attendance (in a non-performance capacity) in 1944 at the Black and White Saturday Jamboree, broadcast on Radio WELO in Tupelo.
Skar's book is superior in that it was a hardback with many more full color visuals and the paper stock was entirely quality, semi gloss. It's purpose was different to that achieved by Sebastiano Cecere - Cecere's release is an encyclopedic approach to the subject matter rather than the flowing, narrative record achieved by Skar.
Cecere's song lists for Elvis' informal gigs at places such as the Lauderdale Courts, (Memphis) South Side High School and The First Assembly of God Church should provoke some debate and they include:
- Cool Water
- Goin' Home
- Till Then
- Great Big Eyes
- Sixty Minute Man
- Tennessee Waltz
- I'll Fly AWay
- Deep River
- Little White Church
Undoubtedly, researchers will read with great interest the information provided by Cecere on Elvis' more well documented (but sometimes still problematic) performances at high school gymnasiums and night clubs in the southern US states during the early to mid 1950s. In 2012 we rarely hear of such colorfully named night spots as the Eagle's Nest Club, Bon Air Club, Golden Cadillac Club, Silver Supper Club or Hi Hat Club. However, six decades after Elvis played them, we can still easily visualise the smoke filled atmosphere, social+ intercourse and loud and hip music they offered patrons.
Verdict: After looking through ELVIS in concert 1945-1977, it is obvious what a 'labour of love' this book must have been for Sebastiano Cecere. Cecere is to be congratulated on the enormous amount of information he has compiled in a wonderful release. We can only hope an English text edition is published.
* Sebastiano Cecere is the long time (25 years) President of the Elvis Presley Fan Club of Italy.
** The Patricia Parker suit against Elvis came to an end on 27 January 1972, when the courts determined, based on blood test results, Elvis was not the father of her child. As 16 January 1971 was a Saturday it is unlikely the court was in session to consider the paternity suit.
EIN Note: Feedback about ELVIS in concert 1945-1977 on various Elvis messageboards, while not surprisingly minimal (given its Italian language narrative), is positive.
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