- Elvis U.S. demos & acetates 1953-1965
- Elvis U.S. demos & acetates 1965-1993
- Elvis U.S. Army – Vinyl Records 1956-1967
- Elvis U.S Army – Vinyl Records 1968-1991
- Elvis For Vinyl Fans Only: Vinyl Discography from Eastern Europe: Bulgaria * Croatia * Czechoslovakia * German Democratic Republic * Hungary * Russia
- Elvis For Vinyl Fans Only: Vinyl Discography from Eastern Europe: Yugoslavia – 45RPM Singles & Extended Play Records
- Elvis For Vinyl Fans Only: Vinyl Discography from Eastern Europe: Yugoslavia – Long Play Records
- Elvis For Vinyl Fans Only: Vinyl Discography from Eastern Europe: Yugoslavia – Romania
- Elvis For Vinyl Fans Only: Vinyl Discography from Eastern Europe: USSR and Poland (hopefully to be published in late 2002-early 2023)
I have chosen to review just one of the eight, Elvis For Vinyl Fans Only:Vinyl Discography from Eastern Europe: Yugoslavia * Romania. It is effectively an abridged edition of his earlier two books on Elvis’ releases in Yugoslavia with the added inclusion of Elvis’ music releases in Romania.
Yugoslavian releases dominate the book with the only known releases in Romania occupying only six pages.
My copy arrived with a bonus two large looseleaf postcard size color photos, one promoting the book, the other a film poster for Dragosta la Las Vegas (Love in Las Vegas).
To understand the challenges Piotr faced in researching and writing his Elvis discographies we need to appreciate that while many western countries had a uniform release policy for Elvis records and often reasonable information keeping, this was not the case in Eastern European countries. For obvious reasons, Elvis’ Eastern European records were generally not released by RCA. Similarly, tracking down and cataloguing the large number of U.S. Army records featuring Elvis, not to mention U.S. demos and acetates, has to have been a monumental task.
The book opens with brief but fascinating accounts of Yugoslavia, and Jugoton Records (RCA Jugoton), the company licensed to release Elvis’ music in the eastern bloc country. Over the years, Jugoton released 21 singles, two Extended Play albums, and 15 Long Play albums of Elvis’ music.
Two highly collectable Jugoton / RCA color singles
The book cover image demands your attention from the get-go. It is of the young King of Rock ‘n’ Roll in full flight on stage. They say never judge a book by its cover but in this case, you are on safe ground doing so.
Each section (Country, Single, EP, LP) in the book is announced by a great full color image and a consolidated listing of the records covered in the section. Other attractive images appear throughout the book including a smoldering photo of the young Hillbilly Cat.
The author includes a pictorial identifying each part of the black and orange record discs and images of the various Jugoton company sleeves. Each record release is presented by:
- Front and back cover images (including for each variation)
- A and B side images of the record
- Track listings
- Details highlighting font color, placement of text, logo, and matrix numbers
The first vinyl record was the Extended Play, Takav je Elvis Presley: I drugi uspesi (translates as Such is Elvis Presley: Don’t Be Cruel) (EPO-RC9065). It was modelled after the US pressing of The Real Elvis (RCA Victor EPA-940). The four songs on the EP were Don’t Be Cruel and I Want You, I Need You, I Love You on first side, and Hound Dog and My Baby Left Me, on the second side. The cover image was contemporaneous, being a photo taken by Frank Powolny for the film Wild In The Country.
As Piotr states, while western countries generally used a different cover image for each release, in Yugoslavia, it appears the record company could only license one image as the same photo appeared on the covers of all singles and the two EPs released throughout the 1960s.
In the 1970s, Jugoton was able to license contemporary cover images. These sometimes matched those in the west. The Yugoslavian vinyl releases with different and sometimes interesting alternative covers include:
- Fool/Steamroller Blues single (SRCA-88667)
- An American Trilogy single (SRCA-8440)
- Until It’s Time For You To Go single (SRCA-88560)
- My Boy/Thinking About You single (88816)
- Love Letters From Elvis LP (LSRCA-70473)
A standout is the alternative cover image for the single, I've Lost You / The Next Step Is Love (SRCA-8434), while the Don’t Cry Daddy /Rubberneckin’ single uses the image most associated with the Suspicious Minds single.
As noted, the first of the two EPs released by Jugoton Records in 1960 was Takav Je Elvis Presley: Don’t Be Cruel (I Drugi Uspjesi) (both language titles appear on the cover). There were several cover and label variations for this release and all are visually and narratively documented. The second EP Follow That Dream (no Yugoslavian title shown) wasn’t released until 1962. It included variations with the wrong catalog number printed on the cover.
The first Elvis LP released in Yugoslavia was Elvis’ Golden Records in 1961 and it was followed by Blue Hawaii and Pot Luck With Elvis the following year. There was then a long nine years break before the next albums, On Stage and Love Letters From Elvis (with great alternate cover). Other titles between 1973 and 1987 were Raised On Rock, Elvis’ Golden Records Volume 1, Hits of the 70’s, Moody Blue, and The Number One Hits.
Collectors will be very interested in several color vinyl releases, and the Yugoslavian “promo” release of the Love Letters From Elvis LP. A number of Elvis cassette tapes from Yugoslavia feature, as do all 20 images in the Photo Album which came with the Elvis 50 Gold Award Hits boxset.
The Jugoton label even released the 'I Was The One' album in 1984.
Archival items include information about, and one cover image from, Slobadan Sijan’s Elvis Film fanzine series, and the Elvis in full color cover for the Yugoslavian magazine, Duga.
As I mentioned earlier, the section on Romania only contains six pages. The author comments:
Any “official mark” of Elvis Presley in the Eastern Europe was almost bordering on the miraculous. There were no records released or books published; even press articles were rare, and they were usually unfavourable in tone.
Such a “miracle” happened, however, in Romania. The circumstances of obtaining by the National Film Organisation “Romania Film” the rights to screen three feature films with Elvis Presley as the main character are unknown. What is even more obscure is how the permits were obtained in the communist regime, which was still controlled, to screen an American film with the “boisterous” rock and roll star (as Presley was called).
The three Elvis films screened in Romania were Veselie La Acapulco (Fun In Acapulco), Dragoste la Las Vegas (Love in Las Vegas), and O Fata Fericita (Girl Happy). We also learn that in the early 1980s the Elvis biopic starring Kurt Russell, was also screened.
The only Elvis related record released in Romania was not even Elvis! Issued in 1985 it was 50 x The King, with the singer being Britain’s Elvis stylist, Danny Mirror.
Also, during the 1980s cassettes became very popular in Romania and it was only then that Elvis music releases became available. The book features images for several cassette albums: Elvis A Hundred Years From Now (part of the popular Essential Elvis series); Elvis Presley; Elvis If Every Day Were Like Christmas; Elvis Country; and Elvis Love Me.
Each volume in Piotr’s series of books contains 160 pages. They all come with a high-quality hardback cover and quality, gloss paper stock. The page design is strong, clean and crisp, with good use of white space to allow both the narrative and visual elements to be enjoyed. A slightly bigger page design would have made it easier to read information on the labels and visually identify variation details (however, these are recorded in adjoining text).
Verdict: Piotr Soczynski’s Elvis discographies are exemplary releases and Elvis For Vinyl Fans Only is no exception. Serious collectors will appreciate the information, both text and visual, that the book offers about releases in countries not usually associated with Elvis Presley. Other fans will also enjoy finding out about how Elvis was presented in non-western countries and seeing the various different approaches to Elvis imagery on record covers. Any of Piotr’s books will look grand on any fan’s coffee table.
How to buy Piotr Soczynski’s books
Several of Piotr’s titles are “sold out”. Those that are available can be found on eBay
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Book Review by Nigel Patterson.
-Copyright EIN October 2022
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network
Other books by Piotr Soczynski
|(Interview) Piotr Soczynski talks to EIN: While serious collectors will be familiar with Piotr Soczynski’s phenomenal work in documenting little known parts of the Elvis recording catalog, most fans will not. This is a great pity, as Piotr, who lives in Poland, has already published five of the best Elvis books in 2021, with two more volumes due later this year and in 2022. These books are:
★ Elvis Army Vinyl Records 1956-1967
★ Elvis Army Vinyl Records 1968-1991
★ Elvis U.S. Demo and Acetates 1953-1965
★ Elvis U.S. Demo and Acetates 1965-1993
★ Vinyl Discography from Eastern Europe, Part 1
★ Vinyl Discography from Eastern Europe, Part 2 (late 2021)
★ Vinyl Discography from Eastern Europe, Part 3 (expected 2022)
The first four volumes sold out quickly earlier this year, while the more recent first volume of Piotr’s Eastern Europe vinyl trilogy is selling fast. The depth of information, glorious visuals, and strong, clean book design have resulted in fascinating “coffee table” releases which will please (amaze) both collectors and the general fan. Piotr recently took time out to discuss Elvis in Poland and his series of books which are an important narrative-visual record of little understood Elvis vinyl releases.
Read Piotr’s full interview with Nigel Patterson and marvel at some great page visuals from the various volumes