'Elvis UK Cover Story'

The Ultimate Guide to Elvis Presley's UK EP & LP Sleeves 1956 -1977

- Book Review by Piers Beagley -

'Elvis UK Cover Story: The Ultimate Guide To Elvis Presley's British EP & LP Sleeves 1956-1977'

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
- 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.

Available as a downloadable digital flip book stored on your own device

EIN's Piers Beagley has spent plenty of time enjoying the craziness of RCA's vinyl marketing though the ages - as well as spinning his old UK vinyl...

'Elvis UK Cover Story' - The Ultimate Guide to Elvis Presley's British EP & LP Sleeves 1956-1977'

By John Townson and Gordon Minto

Independently published, UK, 2022, Digital format, 286 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. In 2021 they published their ultimate examination of Elvis’ British CD releases with 'Elvis UK3'. Now in 2022 they have followed up with ‘Elvis UK – Cover Story: The Ultimate Guide To Elvis Presley’s British EP & LP Sleeves 1956-77”.

One of my favourite books of last year was the incredible fact-filled ‘Elvis UK3’ the ‘Ultimate Guide to Elvis Presley's UK CD Releases’ which included thousands of images and over a million words of text. If you are an Elvis CD collector it was a must-buy.

Now the same authors John Townson and Gordon Minto have published ‘Elvis UK – Cover Story' which is “The Ultimate Guide To Elvis Presley’s British EP & LP Sleeves 1956-77”. Again this is written for Elvis collectors and vinyl fans and expands on their first two books, this time examining various aspects of the covers of Elvis UK vinyl releases. And the amazing thing is to discover 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. I certainly learnt a lot along the way – for instance, why are there four photos from Paradise Hawaiian Style on the back of the Clambake album cover? The 'Clambake' FTD Classic album release didn’t mention that.

The book is 286-pages with illustrations on every page and it examines in detail every UK Elvis EP and LP album sleeve released between 1956-1977. The book explains that the UK didn't basically release 45rpm singles with cover photos until 1969 - and then used exactly the same picture on six singles that followed!

The book is a digital ‘flip-book’ which makes it easy to read on your i-pad as well as keeping it cheap - especially if you live in Australia where overseas postage can double a book’s price. It is also down-loaded to your device so you don't have to be 'on-line' to read it.

The real bonus of a digital book is options such as the 'Search' function, 'Chapter selection' as well as being able to use thumbnail images to skim through and also an easy “Zoom” function if needed.  

Now while I am originally from the UK and collected Elvis UK albums in my teenage years the book revealed albums that I was truly unaware of (or had thankfully forgotten!) along with so many exclusive UK compilations over the years (I must have been going through my post-Beatles / Bowie phase at the time).

Vinyl releases such as October 1957 ‘The Best of Elvis’ and February 1959 ‘Elvis in A Tender Mood’ are new discoveries to me - or more likely just forgotten. I had the songs esewhere and what crappy covers they both had!

The first few pages explain what the book is all about and the list of Chapter topics is incredible.

Topics discussed are: Adverts, Back Cover Photographs, Corporate Details, Credits, Cut-outs, For UK Fans Only, Front Cover Fact File, Hidden History, Inserts, Laminated, Non Standard LP Covers, Printing Companies, Record Shops, Sleeve Manufacture, Sleeve Notes, Spines, Stereo Records, Stickers, Titles, Winning Sleeve.

And, by the way, there are some great quality photographs of Elvis scattered throughout the book, such as this classic on page 8.

Readers may be surprised but the vinyl Front Covers are not actually included as large images, after all fans would be very familiar will nearly all of them and it would double the size of the book, but who knew Back Cover designs would be such an interesting topic!

It was amazing to discover that so many classic Elvis albums featured different back cover photographs and designs between the UK and the US (and Australia).

Where and how the back cover photographs originate (i.e. which photo session or movie-shoot) is examined as well as how they were chosen and even if they were incorrect Reverse-Image shots.  

The UK's 'Something For Everybody' and ‘Blue Hawaii’ albums, for instance, had a very different back-cover layout. Again something that neither the FTD Classic Album or even FTD "complete sessions" even mentioned.

Similarly ‘Follow That Dream’ uses totally different photographs and it begs the question of why.

Later on ‘Clambake’ shows just how ridiculous or lazy Col Parker (or RCA design department) were since the back cover images are all from ‘Paradise Hawaiian Style.’ So by the time the album was released the photographs would have been two and a half years out of date. Two photographs were even repeated from the previous Paradise Hawaiian Style cover, that is hilarious.

Authors John Townson and Gordon Minto don’t hold back in their text and will also have you laughing at times adding a nice touch of English humour. About the Clambake LP cover they write..

.. And if some of these photographs look familiar, that is because two of them were used on the back of the Paradise, Hawaiian Style sleeve. The two new ones were also very similar to the ones featured previously.
There can be no plausible reason why this occurred. In fact, it was nothing short of disgraceful. Perhaps it was considered that the majority of Clambake photographs were unsuitable for use but that hadn't stopped anyone at RCA America previously. A more likely explanation, given that just two of the four images were duplicated, is that no-one was concerned enough to look back at what had been used previously. Then again, how many fans noticed?

I already considered that RCA and The Col were totally cheap in their album designs but after reading this book I realise that they were even worse than I had imagined.

The ‘How Great Thou Art’ front cover uses a ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’ image from five years before, with the back cover taken from the ‘Double Trouble’ session. And you’ve gotta laugh that ‘Easy Come Easy Go’ uses a front cover shot from 'Girl Happy' three years previously and with the back cover from ‘Spinout’. In fact the cover features no photographs at all from the actual movie! It is quite unbelievable when you consider it in the long term.

Budget Albums are in their own league. The ‘C'mon Everybody’ 1971 UK release had a front cover photograph from Elvis and Priscilla's 1967 wedding, while the US cover uses a live on-stage August 1970 shot. The back covers are also completely different (the US back-cover crowd scene is ridiculous) while the album actually features songs from Follow That Dream, Easy Come Easy Go, Viva Las Vegas and other 60s movies! What was Parker thinking!

Fans have always been aware of some of the stupidity and cheapness when it came to Elvis album designs but having them all laid out in this book I was stunned. There are so many oddities about Elvis' UK album covers that I wasn't aware of and it is extraordinary as I come from the UK!

For UK fans only
Another fascinating chapter explains how - and sometimes why - vinyl covers would be changed for the UK market only.

A prime example is the 1970 UK re-release of Elvis first ‘Gold Records’ album. It still featured the October 1958 UK track-listing but now used a photograph of Elvis - a decade later! - from the 1968 Comeback Special on the front. However this release also included the original US album liner notes which is ridiculous as they were totally out of date and the UK track listing was also different from the original US version. It makes no sense at all.

The UK release of 1970’s ‘Almost In Love’ budget album perhaps makes more sense as it doesn't use the US album cover which was a photograph of Elvis live on stage! But with a budget album probably the only consideration was what would increase the potential sales and, of course, Elvis was not touring in England. Nor were any of the songs on the album actually on stage live recordings!  

On a positive note the UK market for once got everything right when it released the ‘Elvis Presley Sun Collection’ in July 1975. For a UK teenager like myself hearing something so revelatory from Elvis (who by the mid-70s was becoming somewhat of a parody of his former self) was astounding. This was a truly magnificent album that helped put Elvis’ ramshackle legacy to right. The book dedicates several pages including its detailed sleeve notes to this magnificent collection.


While the front covers of Elvis' album hardly need to be discussed in detail, the book does feature a very neat section on the ‘Front Cover Fact File’ explaining when and where each front cover photograph was taken and by whom.

Of course Elvis’s chart success, live appearances and record releases were very different in the UK compared to the US. So again the US back liner notes often made no sense being reprinted on the UK sleeves and so in some circumstances they had to be adjusted. Another section of the book is dedicated to this tricky issue.

This section Hidden History neatly explain how pre photo-shop cover images of Elvis were manipulated to make them more suitable for an album cover. While other sections deal with those BONUS Inserts as well as the creation of the Elvis box sets. I hadn't realised the first US 'Aloha' pressings had the tracklisting as a insert whereas the later print-run then placed the tracklisting on 'Saturn' and then later again used a front cover sticker. Such was the pressure to beat the bootleggers to market.

For UK geeks there is even a section on where the albums were printed UK and descriptions about how they were laminated and even how Record Stores were used to promote and sell Elvis albums. (I still have romantic childhood memories of time spent in UK shops that only sold vinyl!)

One of the joys of this book is the obvious love and enjoyment that the authors have for Elvis’ recorded work - but at the same time they show the right amount of humour and delight in the many stupid mistakes that RCA and The Col decided to foist on UK’s general public.

The last page of the book features a very humourous award for RCA's worst album cover. The “Lack of Customer Concern Award"!

Overall Verdict: Once again Elvis experts John Townson and Gordon Minto have published a book that adds yet more detail and history to Elvis’ fabulous musical legacy. Reading through this detailed book I learnt far more than I expected and then pulled out a few of my own aged vinyl albums to check what I had missed. Packed full of fascinating facts this book is not only for UK collectors but for Elvis vinyl collectors in general. Keeping it "Digital" also makes the book easily affordable. I truly enjoyed exploring all the minutiae and the book is not only fascinating, includes some great Elvis pictures, but is humorous as well - and that can't be bad. Plus it made me spin some of my old vinyl for the first time in ages!

The book costs £15 = US$18 - a bargain when I consider that, nowadays, that is the price of 3 pints of beer when I'm back in the UK!

Note: At first I had some issue with the 'Flipbook format' download possibly because, silly me, I use a mixture of microsoft and Apple products. However the authors soon sorted out any issues and are easily contactable via their website.

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 Piers Beagley.
-Copyright EIN July 2022
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.

Below just one of the pages looking at 'Hidden History' - this time the swapped Elvis head on the 'Frankie and Johnny' album cover. Roger Semon is credited for the discovery.

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
(Interviews, 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
(News, Source;ElvisInfoNet)

'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)

EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.
Elvis Presley, Elvis and Graceland are trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises.
The Elvis Information Network has been running since 1986 and is an EPE officially recognised Elvis fan club.















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