'Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley'
In-depth Book/DVD review
The DVD contains recently discovered unreleased film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ and ‘Don’t Be Cruel’, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956.
The limited edition book, written by Tupelo historian Roy Turner, contains nearly 200 pages of Elvis in his birth town of Tupelo Mississippi.
The release is produced by Joseph Pirzada and co-produced by Joseph Tunzi.
With 180 pages featuring over 200 photographs of Elvis in action and with a stylish design, similar to the M.R.S. 1954 and 1955 packages
, the book is a fabulous look at Elvis and the importance of his birthplace Tupelo.
The first few pages set the scene of Elvis’ childhood in Tupelo. Roy Turner’s concise writing nicely encapsulates the salient moments that would effect the young Elvis and eventually pop culture.
These include the importance of Shake-Rag "across the tracks", Mississippi Slim along with church singing with Reverend Brother Frank Smith.
One of the book’s highlights and another real find is the original photo of bespectacled Elvis getting fifth place at the 1945 Mississippi Alabama Fair Talent show. After all these years it is stunning to see it as an original print compared to the poor quality newspaper scan that we all know. There is even an enlarged colorised version of the young 10 year-old Elvis created from the photo. Elvis’ earliest known signature from 7th grade library card is also featured.
The crux of the book is of course the 120 pages of stunning photos dedicated to Elvis’ 1956 Homecoming concert. Elvis still has that early innocence in his eyes and looks totally relaxed and natural. This would soon change as the weight of super-stardom began to build.
(Right: One of the stunning on-stage photos)
Looking like a million dollars in his fabulous velvet shirt Elvis sure was a stunning, good-looking 21-year-old.
As noted in the book …..
Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana, Elvis' guitarist and drummer for the concert, had similar conjectures: "Elvis could put on a shirt that the rest of us would be laughed at for wearing. But he could get away with it and look good while he did it."
Tupelo fan Kay Matthews remembered, "When Elvis came onto the stage he was wearing that velour purple shirt, with a high collar V -shaped neck, tucks down the front, and huge billowy sleeves. And I thought that's the sissiest thing I have ever seen." Lt. Governor Carol Gamin's twelve-year-old daughter, Patricia thought differently. "As a thirteen year-old I thought velvet was a wonderful fabric anyway and for him to be in a velvet shirt that was just so `Hollywood' and `movie star' and exciting."
Plenty of unreleased photographs and fabulous candid shots also impress, giving every Elvis collector plenty to savor.
(Right: Two of the many new & wonderful candid photos of Elvis in Tupelo)
The memorabilia, press cuttings and reviews all also add to our understanding of this great moment in Elvis’ life. The range and quality of the photographs are sensational, although keen
fans may be disappointed to notice that 2 images have been copied from the FTD book 'Flashback'.
There are some fabulous post-concert headlines. . .
"Tupelo teen-agers scream, cry as Elvis slurs and swivels"
and "Tupelo Ain’t Nothin’ but a Town Agog"
and from the Memphis Press Scimitar we discover that Elvis was already talking about touring overseas even in 1956.
Elvis - "I’d like to go to England – if I could go on a ship. If something were to go wrong on a plane. That’s a long swim."
The last 30 pages focus on Elvis’ 1957 ‘Youth Centre’ benefit a year later. By then things had changed a lot for Elvis and this time Vernon & Gladys are treated like royalty, which thrilled Elvis. Girlfriend Anita Wood was also by his side. Some excellent color candid shots are provided by John Heath and we get plenty of action shots of Elvis performing in his gold lame jacket.
How refreshing to have an Elvis ‘concert’ book that is combined with the concert recording itself and with not a jumpsuit in site!
The key feature of the combined package is the DVD and the unreleased concert footage.
The DVD however starts with 8 minutes of unseen Tupelo parade footage and accompanying interviews which serve as a fine introduction to the main attraction. The interviews with Elvis, Vernon & Gladys and actor Nick Adams are the same as featured on the ‘Golden Celebration' box-set however hearing them while seeing the footage of Elvis’ homecoming parade make them so much more relevant & exciting. I love hearing Judy Hopper (the blonde who famously rushed on stage mid-concert) as her enthusiasm, excitement and innocence perfectly captures the atmosphere of the whole day.
How odd that more color film was shot of the parade itself than Elvis’ actual performance. Ridiculously you get to see more of the Elvis Tribute Artists in the parade performing in colour, than you do of Elvis in 1956!
The afternoon concert footage itself is what Elvis dreams are made of. He is so cool and relaxed as he strolls around the stage working the crowd. The on-stage footage is edited with crowd shots to give you the feel of the excitement of the concert. The audio is perfectly lip-synced.
Starting with 'Heartbreak Hotel' its fascinating to see Elvis performing to hometown crowd of 10,000 instead of a TV studio audience. 'Long Tall Sally’ was a favourite song of Elvis' throughout his career so seeing Elvis' only filmed performance of the song live in the fifties is another revelation.
The sound on-stage must have been terrible to work with and seeing Elvis performing with the Jordanaires is enthralling as he moves around them but staying close enough to hear. Their joint performance of 'I Was The One' is enthralling.
Seeing Elvis in action also helps add knowledge, which honestly increases one’s enjoyment of listening to the poorly recorded concerts that we have always known. Elvis' side-comments, his off-the-cuff microphone technique etc while he moves around all make more sense now.
My god, even a cameraman walks up behind Elvis and asks him a question while he is singing!!!
(Right: DVD scan. Just what Elvis needs, a camerman asking him questions while he is performing!)
The full clip of Judy Hopper coming on stage while Elvis is singing is terrific too. Elvis and The Jordanaires keep on performing while Police walk over the stage after escorting her away.
Combining the expereince of seeing this with hearing Judy Hopper's interview earlier on the DVD all go to demonstrate the overall high-quality production values of this project.
(Right: DVD scan: The Police on stage is not enough to stop the show!)
Not all of the tracks are complete i.e. ‘Hound Dog’. However although 'I Got A Woman' is similarly not complete the small amount of footage that J Pirzada & MRS have found is sensational! Elvis goes wild in the hot sun and I had to replay it several times immediately.
(Right: DVD scan. Elvis lets rip during "I Got A Woman')
The Evening Concert footage filmed by a fan sadly lasts less than a minute. However it is in colour which delightfully reveals that Elvis was wearing a red velvet shirt that evening. That itself is quite a revelation for Elvis fans as we all presumed that he was wearing the similar blue shirt as in the afternoon show.
A 10-minute 1957 unreleased interview follows featuring Elvis and Anita Wood set to the 1957 Elvis hip-shaking, gold lame jacket, footage that we know. Elvis talks of the Youth Center project, girlfriend Anita Wood, the non-possibility of marriage and even gives teenagers tips on road safety! Anita Wood talks of Elvis and their relationship revealing that their main hobbies are playing pool and listening to records.
The DVD also features the audio of both 1956 concerts. The tape source is the same as on the 1998 ‘Golden Celebration’ box-set and so the same shrieking audience is just as loud and Bill Black’s bass & D.J Fontana are almost inaudible. However it is in better context here & with photos from the concert to look at while listening to it.
The audio has been slightly improved but that is only due to modern audio processing as unfortunately only the one recording of both concerts has been found.
If you have never heard these concerts before they are a great insight into the real Elvis performing live in front of a large crowd. Elvis is in fine humor, joking about his success and teasing the audience. He comments about the sensational ‘I Was The One’ "It’s plum pitiful the way we do it."
The Evening Show was obviously wilder but unfortunately the start of the show is missed. The addition of ‘Baby, Let’s Play House’ and ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ plus the emergency announcements asking everyone to calm down all add to the great excitement. The bump and grind of the extended final 'Hound Dog' is fabulous.
(Right: Elvis in rockin' action for the 1956 Evening Show in his red velvet shirt)
Produced by Joseph Pirzada and co-produced by Joseph Tunzi it is worth noting how many famous Elvis personalities were also involved in this fabulous package: The credits include Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, Keith Flynn, Budd Glass, Russ Howe, John Heath, Judy Hopper, Jamie Aaron Kelly, Andylon Lensen, Ger Rijff, Jimmy Velvet, Terry Wood, authors Pat Broeske & Elaine Dundy and Fox Movietonews Inc. Eight of Elvis' childhood friends and acquaintances were also involved.
Verdict – A SENSATIONAL discovery for this 30th Anniversary year. While the DVD is being sold on its own make sure you get the book along with it as you will not be disappointed. The whole package is one that you will watch and read over and over. My one big complaint, that they filmed only 13 minutes of the concert . . . why, oh why, didn't they film the whole show?! Elvis fans have to give big, big thanks to Joseph Pirzada for this great release.
Review by Piers Beagley
-Copyright EIN, June 2007
For purchase information Visit the official "Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley" site
Read all the details about Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley
(EIN thanks Technical Advisor Rod Cramp)
Keith Flynn who was involved with the project comments on audio-visual technical aspects of the Tupelo release
I too have been sent an advance copy of this set - and to answer some questions:
The sound seems to be better than on "A Golden Celebration" but this is probably just better mastering as opposed to when it was mastered in the 80's for that box set.
It's a soft cover book - the same as the first two MRS volumes, although the actual digipack cover doesn't seem to be of the same (very high) quality card used on the previous two volumes.
The footage is shown in the correct sequence it was recorded (Obviously!) and it is shown at the correct speed. Some bits of this footage has been seen before (on various DVD's) but it was only in parts, and it was took from the "Newsreel" footage. This is the original uncut "Raw" footage filmed by FOX and never been shown in it's entirity before now!
I personally don't think there is anything on this release that will dissapoint the real fans - but there are obviously going to be a few who will knock this release.
It's only human nature to complain about things - and after all there's no pleasing Elvis fans! We are the worst fans in the world for complaining!
This is what it is - a virtually complete Elvis concert from the 50's on video. Who would ever have thought this would see light of day. "MRS" went directly to FOX for this to see what was actually filmed this day - and this is the results.
No-one ever approaching FOX until now to see what they actually had filmed! This does make me wonder if the people who filmed "Pied Piper Of Cleveland" have ever been approached directly! I know it seems like a silly question - but have they? Especially when realising the "MRS" people went directly to FOX and got the complete footage - something that had never been thought of before!
"MRS" is quickly becoming known to be "Pulling rabbits from hats" so to speak with regard to what they are releasing re unreleased material - maybe their next release will be the "Pied Piper" - Who knows!
All in all - an essential release! (Source: Keith Flynn)