Elvis Presley The Family Album, George Klein, Little Brown & Company, 2007, USA, Hardcover, Illustrated, 143 pages, ISBN: 0316003506/ISBN-13: 9780316003506; Copyright: EPE
"Here is the King on the day he joined RCA Records, in a tense moment backstage before appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show, and flirting with Ann-Margret [EIN note: actually Debra Paget] on the set of his debut movie, Love Me Tender. Pictures of his youth capture his life at home, at the piano with his parents, playing with the family dog, and posing with his high school prom date."
The new book Elvis Presley A Family Album by Elvis' pal and quasi- Memphis Mafia member, George Klein, is not to be confused with the similarly titled book published several years ago by Jimmy Velvet.
Released with the approval of EPE, Klein's book is aimed at the general fan market and should prove to be a popular seller in the shops at Graceland Plaza.
As its title implies, this release is essentially a pictorial one.
The page design is excellent with generous frames for each picture accentuating their visual impact. The more than 100 photos are principally from the extensive EPE Archives and are a mix of full color and b&w.
While most of the photos have been seen before this in no way devalues the book's merits. As a collection of rare archival images supported by narrative recollections from Klein, Elvis Presley The Family Album
is a visually impressive, interesting and well structured release.
Also, the off-stage photographs offer us as a cogent reminder of the "human" side of the world's greatest entertainment icon, as we see the "real" Elvis rather than the carefully presented "film" Elvis or "on stage" Elvis.
A nice touch in the book is that a number of the visuals are presented in vintage photo album format.
Some of the standout visuals are:
- Elvis traveling to a concert in 1957
- Greeting the press outside Graceland in April 1957
- Elvis previewing the Jailhouse Rock soundtrack with co-star Judy Tyler, Dewey Phillips, and then manager, Bob Neal
- with rockabilly singer Warren Smith
- with Charlie Hodge and Gene Smith beside Elvis' boat "Karate" at the dock on Lake McKellar
- the Elvis and Priscilla wedding photo (large group)
- Elvis clowning around with the cameraman obn the set of Follow That Dream
- Elvis on the set of Flaming Star
- visiting Sam Phillips and young sons Jerry and Knox
- a snazzily attired Elvis enjoying a lemon tart in the 50s
The paper is quality semi gloss stock with each page hand sewn into the very sturdy hardback, which itself is covered in soft plastic.
Complementing each visual, George Klein provides interesting firsthand recollections of school days, life on the road, Elvis' women, his cars, homes and a lot more. There is the odd mistake such as Klein repeating the long discounted myth that Dewey Phillips was the first DJ to play an Elvis song (thanks to Bill Burk's sterling research it was discovered to actually have been Fred Cook on Memphis station WREC). Otherwise the generally short recollections are fitting and at times illuminating.
The foreword is by Jerry Schilling and the chapter titles are: The Early Years; Music Notes; Hollywood; and Graceland. There is also an Image Credits page and a 2 page introduction by the author.
Verdict: Elvis Presley The Family Album is a quality release which will delight most fans with its excellent design, interesting narrative and impressive visuals.
About George Klein: George Klein has been the host of Elvis Hour on WMC 79 AM for the past two
decades. He has received numerous awards for his work in the field, including
Award of the Year from the Memphis Music Board of Directors, the No. 1 Disc
Jockey from Billboard magazine, and the Memphis Legend Award from Harrahs Casino. He lives in Cordova, Texas. His memoir is due for publication in 2008.
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