Elvis Archives": Hype or Value for Money?
The Elvis Archives
Todd Slaughter with Anne E. Nixon
1-84449-380-6 (Hardback, 128 pp.)
One of the definitions I have found reads, "To increase
or seek to increase the importance or reputation of
by favorable publicity." Hype is also a noun: "Exaggerated
or extravagant claims made especially in advertising
or promotional material."
significance of hype, then, is that it builds one's expectations
of the importance of its subject. Because one's expectations
are increased greatly by hype, the danger of hype is that
the disappointment felt when the subject of the hype eventually
becomes reality will be great. Great expectations, great disappointment.
hype surrounding "The Elvis Archives" has been great indeed:
writers of some considerable importance in the Elvis world,
rare and seldom seen photos, colour photographs, and "an exclusive
and objective account of the extraordinary life of Elvis Presley."
is what is promised in glossy brochures and press releases
by a respected and major publishing house, indicating a publication
of special significance and quality. The authors are indeed
well known. The name of Todd Slaughter must be one of the
best known in the Elvis world. He took over the running of
the Official Elvis Presley Fan Club of Great Britain (and
The Commonwealth, as it was then) in 1967 and still runs it
his forty years at the helm (with just a brief respite for
a heart operation), Todd has exerted considerable influence
in the Elvis world and, in so doing, has gained respect and
enemies. His achievements, however, cannot be minimised.
E. Nixon has been an Elvis fan for almost fifty (yes, five-oh)
years and is well know, especially to readers of "Elvis Monthly"
and the magazine of the Official Elvis Presley Fan Club of
Great Britain. She wrote "Elvis, Ten Years After," published
in 1987. With such names and the promise of such a collection
of photos, "The Elvis Archives" would seem to be the Elvis
book that every fan simply must have. And, planned for publication
at around the time of the seventieth birthday celebrations,
that is probably what the publisher hopes that every fan will
the reality is very different and I find this very disappointing.
Perhaps Todd's name has been used to add some allure to the
book; perhaps Todd helped select or provide the photographs.
I suspect that the text was written by Anne Nixon; I seem
to recognise her style, anyway -- pleasant enough to read,
certainly, but little else.
the text is no more than a very basic bio, of the type found
in = any number of illustrated books aimed at fans, such as
Kirkland's "Elvis," even if here it all seems more carefully
researched and written. Fair enough, but do we really need
this sort of thing still, in the wake of the masterful "Last
Train To Memphis" and "Careless Love"? Surely we are past
the basic bio stage and into more in-depth studies of Elvis
and his role in music and social history.
to the press release, "The Elvis Archives" is "filled with
over 100 rare and exclusive color photographs," a claim repeated
in as many words on the cover of the book. However, the photographs
are largely the usual selection; there is not a single photograph
in colour, unless you consider sepia-tinted, or blue-tinted
monochromes to = be colour. There is enough of those, as well
as other tints and standard black and white monochromes. But
no colour photos. And the claim that they are rare is just
readers might not be familiar with the pics of British DJ
Jimmy Savile meeting Elvis, of former British pop star Billy
Fury looking admiringly at Elvis, or of former Elvis Monthly
editor and UK fan leader Albert Hand in the company of his
idol, but such photos can hardly be referred to as "rare,"
yet these are just about the rarest in the book.
In no way is "The Elvis Archives" the special book suggested
by the hype. It is a standard illustrated fan book, of which
there are already more than enough, nothing more. In that
respect it is acceptable. A decent enough book, perhaps, for
the newer Elvis fan, but it is a book that is unfortunately
redundant for most of us. Great disappointment, indeed!
Neale (copyright) November 2004