'Elvis UK Beyond RCA'
The Ultimate Guide to Elvis Presley's British Non RCA LPs 1974 - 1997
Book Review by Nigel Patterson / Kees Mouwen/ Piers Beagley
John Townson and Gordon Minto's 'Elvis UK - Beyond RCA - The Ultimate Guide To Elvis Presley’s British Non RCA LPs 1974-1997' flipbook follows on from their previous publications in the Elvis UK series.
• Is extensively illustrated in full colour
• Features a host of background information including a chronological list of all the albums included
• Deals with each album individually, in a detailed and forensic way, while the text is amply illustrated with scans of every known cover and label variation, relevant photographs, and scans of contemporaneous newspaper and magazine articles
• Includes background information about each release including historically significant events of the period
• Contains hitherto unpublished information from company files
• Includes a wealth of background information relating to the record industry incorporated throughout the text.
The incredible trio Nigel Patterson / Piers Beagley and Kees Mouwen (Elvis Day by Day) check out this very detailed book.
UPDATED REVIEW for new 'PHYSICAL BOOK' EDITION
|AUGUST 2023 - To satisfy collectors who need physical versions of books rather than E-Books, UK authors John Townson and Gordon Minto have published the soft-backed PRINT COPY of 'Elvis UK Beyond RCA The Ultimate Guide To Elvis Presley's British Non-RCA LPs 1974-1997'.
It is a second edition, updated and slightly revised. The book is a newly written 377 pages, with fully comprehensive text and follows on from our previous publications in the Elvis UK series, each of them acclaimed by collectors, and provides the ultimate guide to Elvis’s non-RCA LP album releases issued in the UK between 1974-1997.
EIN's copy has not arrived in Australia yet so our good friend Kees Mouwen has posted this physical PRINT COPY review to add to our original digital flip-book examination... .
Early in the year, renowned Elvis Presley researchers and authors John Townson and Gordon Minto published the digital flip-book 'Elvis UK - Beyond RCA - The Ultimate Guide To Elvis Presley's British Non RCA LPs 1974-1997'.
The combined forces of Kees Mouwen / Nigel Patterson / Piers Beagley provided the indepth review below of the digital flip-book version.
Our conclusion was, "'Elvis UK - Beyond RCA' is another winner from the Elvis UK team. It is an important release offering a treasure chest with so much to discover. It is the perfect book to leaf through on a lazy Sunday afternoon (or any other day). You will be all the better, and better informed, for the experience ... but John and Gordon, please consider a softcover edition for us digitally challenged, oldies."
So how great is it to see authors responding positively to the wishes of their readers and six months later printing the physical "real book".
The design of this 377-page hardcopy edition is exactly the same as both the original 'Elvis UK' books in size, and the digital book regarding the content. Although the authors did update and slightly revise the latter for this second edition.
Design-wise readers of the 'Elvis UK' books know what to expect. The format of the text-heavy book changed only slightly from a 2-column design to a 1-column design, probably because this book was written for a digital platform. The glossy cover and quality paper add to feel that you're holding a significant piece of work in your hands. It fits in nicely with the other 'Elvis UK' books in your Elvis library.
A big pro to the new release is that it comes full color which is a big improvement when compared to previous physical editions in this series (I can only compare it to my physical copy of 'Elvis UK 2' which only contains black and white images). Not only is the book a much more attractive read, more importantly, the use of color discloses so much more detail on the different variations presented on the 377 pages of this reference.
On the downside, you lose the advantages of a digital format like a search option, or new updates from the authors. But being born over half a century ago, I still know how a reference works, and so will most of the buyers of this book.
Given the authors' pedigree, readers know what to expect: a comprehensive and thoroughly researched account of Elvis's British non-RCA LP releases issued between 1974 and 1997. And there is more than "just vinyl" in these books. The authors did not only go "beyond" the RCA LPs presented in this book, they also went beyond the production and business-side of these releases thanks to the stories from those who actually were involved in the production, design, marketing or creation of these albums.
Some discographies are simple books with label and sleeve scans, which is a bit of a cheat as they need to be seen and considered within a context, and that is where the hard work of researching and writing comes in. This is where the 'Elvis UK' distinguish themselves from other discography books.
The book holds so much content, it is too much for me to really enjoy and take it all in when presented in a digital format. It really makes a difference whether you "quickly look something up digitally" or actually pull a reference-book off the shelf. In the latter case you absorb the content much better.
There is a real difference between the digital and physical format when it comes to distributing and documenting information. My Elvis Day by Day blog and books illustrate this. where the blog works great for sharing news and reviews on new releases nearly "real-time", it is the expanded physical format of the blog that really allows you to take in the events of the year as a while and reviews of various releases.
Even author Gordon Minto looks happy signing the physical copies of 'Elvis UK - Beyond RCA' :-)
So I for one am grateful that the authors had an ear for the wishes of part of their readers and - together with Now Dig This / Elvis The Man and His Music - published a physical edition. It will keep me indulged for weeks to come.
The softback book is being sold exclusively through Now Dig This / Elvis The Man And His Music.
It retails at £45 (includes p&p in the UK) overseas customers will have to pay the higher postage costs.
Go here to Elvis The Man And His Music to purchase OUT NOW IN STOCK
Let's hope that this edition, with a really modest price-tag, will be "sold-out" soon as that might encourage the authors to re-issue more old titles or new projects as physical references.
Overall fans of "discography" books are well served this year, with an English re-issue of the 'Elvis German EP Record Guide' and the upcoming 'From Memphis to Tokyo - A Reference Guide to the Absolute Mastery of Elvis' Japanese Vinyl and Paul Alners first volume on Elvis' U.K. vinyl releases (1956 - 1965).
EIN Thanks Kees Mouwen for this timely review - see his original formatted review here at Elvis Day by Day
'Elvis UK - Beyond RCA - The Ultimate Guide To Elvis Presley’s British Non RCA LPs 1974-1997' - By John Townson and Gordon Minto
Independently published, UK, 2023 Digital format, 378 pages, Illustrated, ISBN: none
In 1987 and 2002, UK authors John Townson and Gordon Minto released two critically acclaimed volumes on Elvis’ vinyl output in the UK and then followed in 2021 by the update 'Elvis UK3'. Last year they published ‘Elvis UK – Cover Story: The Ultimate Guide To Elvis Presley’s British EP & LP Sleeves 1956-77”and now continue their amazing exploration with 'Elvis UK - Beyond RCA - The Ultimate Guide To Elvis Presley’s British Non RCA LPs 1974-1997
The book is a digital flipbook that can be downloaded and stored on your computer. The advantage of the flipbook format is that it offers, at the push of a button, an easily accessible digital reference which can be held on multiple devices. Importantly, it will not deteriorate at all over time, and one or all pages can be printed.
Once your flip book is opened it is very easy to flip through the pages in any direction - they are presented in two-page format, so if you have a ‘hair trigger’ finger you do need to be careful with the scroll wheel on your computer mouse, as it is easy to flip more than the normal two pages. Another bonus is that you can easily zoom in or out on particular text or images – this is necessary to properly see the detail on many album (back)covers.
KM comment: Due to the fact that I started to read this book on my MacBook sitting on my couch the setting wasn’t optimal to take it all in. But sitting behind a desk again after a day at the office … perhaps an I-pad version works better.
Given the authors’ pedigree, the book design is clean, crisp, and strong, with good use of white space to enhance reading pleasure. ‘Elvis UK – Beyond RCA’ contains 378 scanned pages which are accessed (read) through the interactive web-based flipbook technology.
It may sound complicated, but once downloaded it is simple and intuitive to use and the flipbook interface includes a handy search function. This is an essential element for hefty reference-book as this one.
Due to the extensive research by Townson and Minto the pages are a little text heavy. Writing a digital book offered the authors all the space they needed to share their findings in meticulous detail, and they have. This is where books like ‘Elvis UK – Beyond RCA’ differ from most other discography releases, which usually focus on showing only the records.
As digitally competent as we (the reviewers) claim to be, for baby boomer readers like ourselves, there is so much information to take in digitally … which we find challenging. However, this is actually a compliment to the authors and their research as it probably won’t be more complete in any other publication!
Townson and Minto write that “these books become more and more detailed, their size and weight increases correspondingly and many fans - ourselves included - not only struggle to lift and handle the books - but find it difficult to store them” - however, it is the reverse situation for the current reviewers.
We, and we suspect many other older fans, prefer a paper book over a digital one, but we acknowledge, with the soaring cost of publishing physical books and increasing disinterest by younger generations in physical books, digital publishing, including flip books, is the future. However, at 378 pages, we consider that this hefty reference could have been made available as a print-on-demand for around 40 euro. We suspect if both a physical and digital version was available, there would be higher sales.
PB comment: Being published in the UK and with overseas postage being so high to Australia I am happy with a flip-book format as it contains so much text and so many images. For Elvis fans who travel there is no way they could carry a book of this size to read 'by the pool' on holiday. The huge 'ELVIS UK 3' E-book convinced me of the convenience of this format.
The visual element is good, particularly when it is showcasing the (often) colourful labels for each release. We would have welcomed a smattering of larger, even full page, images, which would have offered more variation in the overall look of the page design.
Several cover images would have looked stunning had they been presented as larger images (e.g. ‘Elvis Love Songs’ (p100), ‘Elvis in Hollywood’ (p179); ‘Elvis Mess of Blues’ (p266) and ‘Elvis The Sun Collection’ (p285). Even showing some of the disc labels as full-page images could have worked. The number of pages isn’t a limitation for these digital books.
There is also variety in the visuals. In addition to cover and label images, there are photos from related films, Elvis on and off-stage, in the studio, with fans, and a wide array of interesting archival items.
NP comment: For some reason, I became fixated on the 42 gloriously green images of the alternate label variations for the Readers Digest set, Elvis Presley’s Greatest Hits (pp61-63), I may need counselling.
PB comment: Growing up in the UK I now remember seeing plenty of these releases in record shops or advertised in magazines. I have since forgotten so many of these “non” RCA releases that I found this book really fascinating. Such releases as 'The Elvis Tapes' (only interview material and no music!) or the French 'Les 40 Plus Grands Succes' (what was Blue River doing there?) bring back memories of my early Elvis fandom! AND the fact that RCA have still never done a proper ‘Blue Rhythms’ release beggars belief.
... Sprinkled through the book are some brilliant and rare images of Elvis.
As readers have come to expect from each of the ‘Elvis UK’ publications, there is a wealth of background information relating to the record industry incorporated throughout the text in this reference.
The narrative informs … from background on particular releases to an explanation of flexi-discs. Serious collectors will appreciate the level of detail, while casual readers will savour the information enhancing their knowledge and appreciation of Elvis.
Hands up who remembers Elvis on the 'Hammer' label or knows the relevance of Slaughter Joe or Stomper Time to the world of Elvis releases? And what about the truth behind the Arcade label which released the massively successful double album, Elvis’ 40 Greatest! There is much to be learned reading ‘Elvis UK – Beyond RCA!’
PB comment: In the late 70s with RCA executives seeming lost with regard to Elvis’ musical legacy it is the UK characters ‘behind the scenes’ that are now so intriguing to read about. And can you imagine a time when a shop not having enough supplies of an Elvis album warranted reporting in magazines or newpapers!
As Townson and Minto write on their website, the book “deals with each album individually, in a detailed and forensic way, while the text is amply illustrated with scans of every known cover and label variation, relevant photographs and scans of contemporaneous newspaper and magazine articles”
Also featured is background information about each release, including historically significant events of the period, hitherto unpublished information from company files, a header block for each album release comprising information about the songs or spoken word material, details about the writers and record modes.
The book provides a complete overview, which will be especially appreciated by the (die-hard) fans who collect vinyl. Every LP, in all variations available (or should we say known to the authors), is listed.
Most fans will easily understand the need for a detailed reference of the RCA-part of the Elvis catalogue, and while some may consider the non-RCA releases unimportant, the authors rightfully state that this a misconception and some of these albums were hugely successful - who does not own a copy of the ‘Elvis’ 40 Greatest’ compilation or another release that contains the odd rarity or part of the Elvis catalogue that was not available from RCA at the time? Looking back now, some of these releases have become interesting collectables.
PB comment: The fact that in 1974 Arcade released a “Greatest hits” double-album that RCA had not even considered shows how poorly Elvis was being treated by RCA at the time. And the fact that Arcade’s deal with RCA expired only three weeks before Elvis died was an amazingly lucky fluke for RCA. As the Arcade producer notes, “we could have sold another million copies.”
KM comment: When Gordon Minto reviewed the 2020 edition of ‘Elvis Day by Day’ he asked the question "do we really need an overview of every re-release on CD or vinyl?" When seeing 12 label variations of the ’40 Greatest’ compilation I thought of his words.
This is in no way a criticism of the authors, as they - just like I did - simply report and categorize what’s out there (and what should be recorded for future reference). You can be the judge if you need this much detail.
I really enjoyed reading how the 'iconic' logo cover for the K-Tel's Imperial sub-label release 'American Trilogy' was derived from the February 4, 1956 picture of Elvis leaving Steve Allen's 'Stage Show' in New York.
There are many details like this throughout the book.
The song-title index at the end of the book is a neat inclusion as it allows the reader to quickly find recording dates and the various releases each song appeared on. This is something many reference books miss.
|PB Extra Comments:
From my point of view it is the minutia, trivia and the extra details that I find so fascinating.
For instance, stories about ‘Boppin’ Bob Jones’ who was such a great character and had so much important input into Elvis releases at the time – as well as doing his best for high-quality audio remastering.
Although in the UK (and pre-internet) Bob Jones had a better idea about Elvis’ music catalogue in the US vaults than RCA in the US.
Back in 1981 (so pre Roger Semon) Bob Jones even had the audacity to ask RCA for the following from their vaults for a “Presley Box Set”. Collectors who know about Elvis’ rare material will be stunned by anyone even knowing this back in the eighties.
As the book states, “It was a wild idea, but those who knew Jones well also knew how much this all meant to him.”
Jones wrote in part …
“we will need new copy tapes from the States:
Part 1 - Unissued Material
1. "King Creole" (Alternative version, Mono)
2. No matrix no, "Plantation Rock"
3. My Baby Is Gone
4. Uncle Pen (Unissued "Sun" recording 1954/55.)
5. Tennessee Saturday Night
6. Loving You (No mat no.) (Alternative version from film)
7. Got A Lot O' Livin To Do (Alternative version from some film)
Regarding the quality of 80s releases, audiophiles will be intrigued by the 60’s ‘Electronic Stereo’ discussion and also Bob Jones’ hatred of poor quality RCA releases. In 1982 Jones would even write to RCA “venting his fury” at the audio quality of the material he had been sent to use for mastering.
He wrote, “I am returning this useless tape”!
Another character is Shelby Singleton (in 1969 he bought the SUN catalogue off Sam Phillips - but minus any Elvis material) and the book includes plenty of discussion about his disputes with RCA.
At the time some of Singleton’s startling claims were.
- That, despite the on-going legal battle, he was about to release 'more Presley material in the 'immediate future' but did not specify what
- That he had many people trying to search out old Presley product, especially radio material recorded on wire recorders from the Louisiana Hayride period
- That he had over 18 hours of film material which he would use in a TV documentary
- That he had the rights to this sort of material as he owned the Sun Records catalogue as these were recorded while Elvis was at Sun though he conceded that RCA held the rights to the master recordings
- That he had already catalogued over 4000 catalogue titles with another 5000 titles as yet uncatalogued
For me some other remarkable discoveries were..
The fact that K-Tel’s UK head of operations in the 80s was Don Reedman who was a keen Elvis fan and responsible for several Elvis releases and who forty years later in 2015 would be the main producer of the million-selling Elvis “Royal Philharmonic” overdub releases.
The authors lengthy discussion around the ‘Blue Rhythm’ blues releases, first issued in 1983 by the Everest label. It was also re-released in multiple formats over the years as ‘Mess O’ Blues’.
Elvis fans have often debated RCA’s failure to release a comprehensive "R&B" Elvis compilation yet here was an independent company releasing exactly that forty years ago and getting good sales. And of course Boppin' Bob Jones was involved in the production.
We have always considered that the inclusion of archival material in a book adds value. ‘Elvis UK – Beyond RCA’ includes various press clippings which offer not only a “primary” source record, but also a “feel” for the time.
It was amusing and somewhat alarming to see the headlines:
‘Presley Fans Demented’
‘Daughter Wants To See Elvis? Kick Her In The Teeth!’
‘It’s 1954 And Elvis Is Young, Sexy And Dangerous!’
Also fascinating to read the numerous press clippings about RCA’s court battle with Charly Records regarding the latter’s Elvis Presley: The SUN Years album. At times, the archival material gives the book the look and feel of a scrapbook, and this a positive, as scrapbooks are wonderful items to peruse given the variety and richness of their content, and the nostalgic feelings they can engender.
Overall Verdict: ‘Elvis UK – Beyond RCA’ is another winner from the Elvis UK team. It is an important release offering a treasure chest of information and so much to discover. This is the period when RCA and their mainstream releases were letting the Elvis public down but independent companies with Elvis fans as producers came up with some fascinating alternate product. It is the perfect book to leaf through on a lazy Sunday afternoon (or any other day). The research is stunning and you will be all the better, and better informed, for the experience … but John and Gordon, please consider a softcover edition for us digitally challenged, oldies.
The book 'Elvis UK – Beyond RCA' is available for UK£20 and can be ordered via www.elvisukbooks.co.uk which also includes details of the authors’ other publications and how to order them.
Please note that the low-res p/c screen grabs used do not show the true clarity of the images or text.
Book Review by Kees Mouwen / Nigel Patterson /Piers Beagley.
-Copyright EIN March 2023
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network / 'Elvis Day By Day'.
'Elvis UK Cover Story' Book Review: Elvis experts John Townson and Gordon Minto recently published their new (digital) book 'Elvis UK Cover Story: The Ultimate Guide To Elvis Presley's British EP & LP Sleeves 1956-1977' designed to add to and complement their original 'Elvis UK' book.
It is a 286 page, fully comprehensive book, providing the ultimate guide to Elvis’s EP and LP album sleeves released in the UK between 1956-1977.
Extensively illustrated in full colour and arranged in sections, this book addresses a wide range of topics including back cover photos, printing companies, sleeve notes, etc.
There are extended sections including 'Front Cover – Fact File', and 'For UK Fans Only' an in-depth study of those albums that originated in the UK, or were only ever available in the UK.
It includes a wealth of background info incorporated into the text.
It is a downloadable digital flip-book stored on your own device.
Reading through this fact-filled investigation, the amazing thing EIN discovered was just how many sleeve variations, UK only releases, and cheap RCA / Parker design decisions there were.
For the world’s biggest superstar some of their marketing decisions were truly bewildering. And some of their design choices total madness.
EIN's Piers Beagley spent plenty of time enjoying the craziness of RCA's vinyl marketing though the ages - as well as spinning his old UK vinyl .. see his review...
(Book Reviews: Source;ElvisInfoNet)
|Interview: 'ELVIS UK3' authors John Townson & Gordon Minto: Recently published 'ELVIS UK3' The Ultimate Guide to Elvis Presley's British CD Releases 1983-2005' by co-authors John Townson and Gordon Minto comprises 1400 pages with over a million words plus 4,000 plus high quality black and white and colour illustrations.
It is a massive undertaking that provides the definitive guide to Elvis's UK compact disc releases from the ' The Legend' - the world's first ever Elvis compact disc in 1983 - in meticulous and unprecedented detail.
Every single, RCA, FTD and third party album (all 450 of them!) issued up to 2005 are written about individually in fascinating detail, arranged in chronological order, carefully cross-referenced, while charting and describing company and industry developments along the way.
With such a massive book EIN readers have asked questions such as..
- Who is this book actually aimed at?
- Did you learn particular new insights into RCA's marketing on Elvis?
- How important was Roger Semon in changing Elvis' musical legacy
- Was 'The King Of Rock n Roll' box-set the true turning point?
- Should RCA have stuck to 'The Beatles' approach of only one essential release per year?
- Why is it a digital release and not a hard-back?
EIN's Piers Beagley interviewed authors John Townson and Gordon Minto to find out more about this amazing work ...
Go here to their fascinating and detailed interview
Book Review - 'ELVIS UK3': Recently published 'ELVIS UK3' The Ultimate Guide to Elvis Presley's British CD Releases 1983-2005' by John Townson and Gordon Minto comprises 1400 pages with over a million words plus 4,000 plus illustrations.
This examination of Elvis’ British releases is an incredibly detailed narrative and visual record of his CD releases in the UK from 1983 to 2005. The first Elvis CD, 'The Legend' (3CD), was released in the UK in December 1983. Reflecting the fledgling nature of the format, UK fans had to wait another 12 months until the release of not one, but three, Elvis albums, in December 1984. By that time, the flood gates for the CD medium were starting to strain.
As with the authors’ earlier two volumes on Elvis UK vinyl releases, the information in Elvis UK3 is exhaustive.
To say that Elvis UK3 was well-researched would be a serious understatement. There is so much information in this book that it is difficult to comprehensively review it all. While many collectors will be most interested in the technical details for each entry, the author’s narrative is excellent.
Released using the flipbook format EIN tested Elvis UK3 on four platforms - a 28” computer monitor, 14” tablet, iPad 8 and a 6.5” android mobile phone.
EIN's Nigel Patterson has spent plenty of time reading through this massive work and here presents his in-depth review ...
(Book Review, Source;ElvisInformationNetwork)
'Elvis - Made In Germany’ In-Depth Review: The new MRS 'Elvis - Made In Germany – The Complete Private Recordings’ 4CD set contains more than 3 hours of the private recordings Elvis made while off duty in Germany when he was serving as a soldier in the US army during the 1958 -1960 period and, includes rare tracks from a recently discovered tape comprising over an hour of unheard personal recordings.
The 152-page hardback book contains rare photographs and documents plus a comprehensive text provided by Gordon Minto, which discusses each of Elvis’ RCA studio (non-film) recording sessions held during 1957-58, before focusing on the private recordings he made in Germany.
The BONUS CD features the essential RCA studio masters from 1957-58.
With such an expansive book, along with hours of Elvis jamming with his friends in Germany, there is plenty to discuss as well as finding out what extra material this set contains over the official releases.
Go here as EIN's Nigel Patterson & Piers Beagley provide an in-depth review of this new MRS release
(Book Reviews, Source;ElvisInformationNetwork)
'The World of FTD' In-Depth Review: The new deluxe book 'The World Of FTD' has been received by some lucky fans and Elvis collector Mike Lodge has provided EIN with a very detailed review - of well over 3 thousand words!
The book was authored and designed by Keith Flynn with input from a large number of other Elvis specialists including EIN's Piers Beagley, EM&HM's Trevor Cajiao, Geoffrey McDonnell, Gordon Minto and many others.
It is 1,200 pages, hardbound three book set, chronicling every release by FTD.The book also features 100s of high-quality photos from the collection Erik Lorentzen
KJ Consulting are proud to publish this Box Set which weighs 8 kilos.
Go here to see his very detailed review - plus more new preview pages - EIN thanks Mike Lodge for the review
| 'Ultimate Elvis' Book Review: 'Ultimate Elvis – The Complete And Definitive Recording Sessions' is a this three-volume, deluxe set that not only comprises all the session information available to date, based on Keith Flynn's incomparable website and includes comprehensive notes on each session, discographies, letters, original sheet music covers plus huge index all included in its 1,800 pages.
The book includes around 3,000 stunning high-quality photographs many of them previously unseen, relating to the time period in question.
The promotional publicity for this three-volume set was very impressive with the original publishing date of August 2014 missed as more photographs were discovered and the content expanded. Finally published in December 2014, Elvis enthusiast Brian Quinn checks out this astounding deluxe package to discover if it is as good as promised.
Go HERE to check out Brian Quinn's review - Now updated
(Book Reviews, Source;BrianQuinn/ElvisInfoNet)
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