'Rock Around The Bloch' is a hardback book containing 288 pages which tells the story of the USS Arizona benefit concert that Elvis performed at the Bloch Arena, Honolulu, Hawaii on March 25, 1961. It includes first-hand accounts from people who were there, newspaper articles from the time and numerous photographs (over 130 of which have never been published before).
EIN will not be getting their copy until next month so we thank David Tinson for this review.
The story of the USS Arizona & Pearl Harbor is indeed a tragic one. Over a thousand lives were lost that tragic day, including the complete USS Arizona U.S Navy Band. It's a poignant story full of tragic facts and figures. Elvis played a charity concert in 1961 in aid of the fallen heroes who lost their lives that fateful day.
Elvis raised $50,000 for USS ARIZONA.
Firstly the new FTD book/cd combo, 'ROCK AROUND THE BLOCH' is simply gorgeous. If you are any kind of fan get it! I've revisited the book for the past two weeks continuously.
The previous MRS book 'Such A Night in Pearl Harbor' about the same concert (see EIN review here) contained many of the same photos, but here they are presented in the best possible light. Besides the FTD book has many unreleased B&W images sourced from Colonel Parker's very own archive.
Past the informative introduction -- there's text about Elvis meeting the actor James Stewart on the flight to Hawaii; the curiosity of Huckleberry Hound's arrival the previous year, gathering even more fever pitch hysteria than the Hawaiian crowd for Elvis; and Elvis completely drowned in lei (photos).
There's Stacks of info and historical documents. It really looked like everyone had a ball looking at the wealth of great photos: especially Elvis on stage in his gold lame suit. Elvis sat on the edge of the stage (apparently he did a 20ft knee slide during 'Hound Dog'! ) these photos from the actual performance tell the story with visual panache.
Elvis looks magnificent in his gold suit and backed by a stellar band; to witness the show must have been something extraordinarily special!
The Preface admission that the newly features photos were found in Colonel Parker's personal archive is a very interesting one, resulting in enough material for the said book project; check stunning dbl page photo of Elvis & Colonel Parker (127) More B&W photo highlights; (120, 134, 158, 176, 200 -- in addition to the wealth of gold lame suit photos from the concert).
Furthermore, I wonder with fascination what other treasures lurk in the Colonel's Aladdin's Cave?
This is a book to revisit time after time with oodles of fascinating info and fan stories.
The book is written and researched so well by David English & Pal Grunland, and it's a fascinating trawl through moments in world history. The shocking horror of WWII, and the resulting charity concert...
Of special interest is the stellar backing band -- what an amazing concert it must have been to attend at the BLOCH ARENA - and listening to it, it's clear the crowd were eating out of his hand. The audio sound fluctuates here and there due to on-stage mic problems, but I don't think it could sound any better due to the original element limitations. The sound is natural and clear for the most part except for the occasional drop-out and mic problems - but what we have is one of the best concerts Elvis performed without doubt, and with a set-list to die for!
There's touches of feedback here and there resulting in an ambient 'live' feel, and obviously the screaming girls too...Just listen to the fantastic guitar intro to ('Now And Then) There's A Fool Such As I' and its hot solo mid song. The bluesy licks on a stunning Love Me --and a hint of honking sax giving a taste of the sublime honky-tonk on offer... More: the hot Hank Garland solo on I Need Your Love Tonight - further realisation and confirmation of just how good those guys were... The gargantuan sax featured blues, Reconsider Baby and a seductive, triumphant One Night which has to be one of the best versions of the song - Elvis and band perform it at the original pacing compared to later versions and his phrasing is perfect, listen@ 1.18, 1.50, 2.02.
Furthermore, there's a gospel number and the knee slide closer Hound Dog to finish. Boots Randolph, Hank Garland, Floyd Cramer, DJ Fontana and Scotty Moore et al make up one hell of a rock & roll band! Sadly Floyd Cramer is too low in the mix to hear.
( Note: check Roy Orbison's THE MONUMENT SINGLES A-B Sides for more listening pleasure and their sublime session credentials.)
The press conference is a captivating listen and besides the interview is a fantastic addition.
Note: the newly remastered FTD version of the BLOCH ARENA concert reveals more and is an enhanced listening experience compared to alternative versions.
Overall Verdict: All thing considered ROCK AROUND THE BLOCH is 100% quality and comes highly recommended. And credit goes to all involved in the book project.
Review by DAVID TINSON (also posted on the FECC forum for discussion)
-Copyright EIN April 2015
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