"Elvis Presley is the greatest cultural force in the 20th century."

(Leonard Bernstein)


"If you're an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary; If you're not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible."

(George Klein)


"For a dead man, Elvis Presley is awfully noisy."

(Professor Gilbert B. Rodman)


"History has him as this good old country boy, Elvis is about as country as Bono!"

(Jerry Schilling)







Tara McAdams

(Edited by Mike Evans)

MQ Publications, Distributed in Australia by Bookwise International, 2004, Hardcover (with dust jacket), 431 pages, ISBN: 1-84072-673-3

The Elvis Handbook is the latest photobook aimed at the "general" Elvis market. With very good book design and an eclectic range of visuals it is a very different product to the "specialist" photobook releases (aimed at collectors) from Ger Rijff and Joseph Tunzi.

To many fans The Elvis Handbook will be reminiscent of another excellent book release, Elvis A Celebration. This is not surprising as the man responsible for Elvis A Celebration, Mike Evans, is also editor of The Elvis Handbook.

Apart from its major focus, the photos, The Elvis Handbook features a solid narrative by the author to introduce each part of the Elvis story. There are also numerous exclusive interviews with those who knew and worked with Elvis, and enlightening extracts from critical writers including Greil Marcus and Peter Guralnick. The Elvis Handbook features 220 black & white and color photos, posters and images. You may have seen most the photos before but thanks to the solid interweaving narrative and good book design, flipping through The Elvis Handbook is an eye-popping joy.

There are some great photos:

  • fantastic color shot of Elvis singing live on stage wearing his famous "gold jacket" in April 1957
  • dramatic publicity still, Flaming Star
  • Front-of-house still, Follow That Dream, May 1962
  • 'Paradiso Hawaiano' film poster
  • an almost surreal Elvis in a head and shoulders shot from The '68 Comeback Special
  • a great double page still from Elvis:That's The Way It Is

Each visual is accompanied by a short description and date reference. In this respect The Elvis Handbook distinguishes itself from similar releases that lack its obvious the high production values.

The author's narrative is insightful without being overly substantial. But Ms McAdams pulls no punches and suggests things which fly in the face of the usually told story:

"Although Elvis hadn't seen any action in Europe, there was carnage at RCA."

"Easy Come, Easy Go flopped at the box office, and the soundtrack sales tanked. Double Trouble opened a few weeks later and did even worse."

I particularly liked this quote:

"In spite of what you may hear or you may read, we're here, and we're healthy, and we're doing what we enjoy doing."

(A tired looking Elvis addressing the crowd, Kansas City, Missouri, June 18, 1977)

While the absence of text about Elvis' final years satisfies EPE's politically correct version of the legend, it is an unfortunate ommission - one which we are increasingly seeing in books with an EPE affiliation (which I suspect this book has despite no overt mention of it).

The final section, The Legacy, offers a good perspective on why Elvis tribute artists continue to flourish 27 years after Elvis' death.

Verdict: The Elvis Handbook is a visual treat that will satisfy most fans.

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FTD: Kid Galahad
Love, Elvis
CD: Dirty Laundry
FTD: Follow That Dream
CD: We Have Not Rehearsed Them
Book: The Presley Arrangement
Book: Rough Guide to Elvis
CD: Continuing Story of Memory Records
FTD: On Tour Rehearsals
Book: The Elvis Album
CD: Christmas Peace
Book: The Memphis Lullaby
DVD: '68 Comeback Special
DVD: Elvis In Concert (3 hour version)
DVD: This Is Elvis
Hugh Jarrett (Jordanaires)
Elvis vs. wrestler Jerry Lawler!
It's time for an "Elvis' Greatest Hits" DVD!
SFX filing to buy EPE
Thank God 1981 sale of EPE didn't happen
Sale of EPE - good or bad?
Bridge over troubled water
New owner of EPE
Elvis Fans - The Following
Redefining Elvis
How did Elvis die?
Elvis Film Bio
500 million fans can't be wrong?
Bill Burk
Lisa Presley on EPE sale
Larry King transcipt
Red & Sonny West
Paul Simpson
Ed Bonja (Part 2)
Ernst Jorgensen
Phil Aitcheson (Presley Commission)
Did you miss?
Online Elvis Symposium
Exclusive excerpts from "The King Is Dead"
All about Lisa Presley
All about Graceland
FTD review- Elvis: New Year's Eve
DVD Review: Elvis Presley The Last 24 Hours
Elvis vs. Bing: who really was The King?


Elvis Odd Spot (updated 31 Dec 2004)