"Three Way Dance": Battle of the Photo Journals!

Nigel Patterson, July 1, 2003

EIN compares three new Elvis photo-books letting them do battle in an all-out 3 way dance:

Elvis PA Klass Hold

Elvis Behind The Image

The Rock 'n' Roll Years My Wish Came True, Vol. 1

Who will go down for the count?

Elvis PA Kloss Hold, Yngvar Holm (Flaming Star, Oslo, 2002, Hardcover, 136pp, ISBN: 8299515327)

With photographs principally from the archives of Pal Granlund, Yngvar Holm and Ed Bonja this is a quality release with a strong page design and clear illustrations. The downside is that the substantive text is all in Norwegian (with the exception of a chronology of Elvis's live concerts). The photos are a mix of the rare and prosaic, making this release seem similar to many others.

The book is a high quality production, nicely split into sections with color and b/w visuals neatly highlighting each one. The well-designed sections include Colonel Tom Parker, the Hollywood years, the Madison Square Garden concerts and Elvis, Priscilla and Lisa. Elvis Kloss PA Hold is a good addition to your ‘coffee table’ library.

Elvis Behind The Image, Bud Glass (Praytome Publishing, 2003, Hardcover, 126pp, ISBN: none)

This is a book of mainly candid shots of Elvis at rest and play, away from the stage and screen. Given the informal nature of the photos they generally aren't as clear as the stills in the other two photo-journals.

The photos are from the archives of Russ Howe and Sandy Miller. Ms Miller also provides text and journal notes to complement the visuals. The narrative is relatively brief and does not compare with the detailed text in the other two releases.

The book includes an interesting photo section ‘The California Homes of Elvis Presley’ and there are great photos taken on the sets of Stay Away, Joe and Charro and a series of visuals from the historic Houston Livestock shows. While the photos in Behind The Image have apparently ‘never been seen before’ they are very similar to others that have been previously published from the Howe and Miller archives.

The Rock 'N' Roll Years My Wish Came True Volume 1, Ger Rijff, JeanPaul Commandeur & Trevor Cajiao (Elvis Unlimited, Denmark, 2003, Hardcover, unpaginated, ISBN; none)

This is the best designed of the three releases. It features interestingly varied text and neatly presented photos. Ger Rijff is a name synonymous with the very best in photo-journals and My Wish Came True continues the very high standards set by Rijff in earlier publications such as Florida Close-Up, Memphis Lonesome and Shock, Rattle & Roll.

A lot of thought went into the page design and it has paid off. Apart from rare photos of The Hillbilly Cat during his halcyon days the release is designed to be dramatic, with frenetic up-close shots of Elvis and hysterical fans.

In addition, the inclusion of press ads, record charts and promotional material from the time adds significant historical importance to the book.

The only negative with My Wish Came True is its soft cover format that means careful storage and handling is necessary to preserve a release you will revisit many times. Given the age of the visuals the photo quality is surprisingly good and the 'in your face' presentation is striking.

Most of the Elvis photos are b/w while many of the historical materials are in color. Trevor Cajiao contributes a thoughtful essay, 'Early Memories of the Hillbilly Cat '54-'56'. It quickly transports readers into the musical fabric of the magical 50s era. My Wish Came True comes with a bonus interview/dialogue CD.

Verdict: All three books are printed on high quality paper stock and all three offer something different. My Wish Came True presents a valuable historical photo-journal of The King at the peak of Elvis-mania. Elvis Behind The Image offers rare candids of Elvis "off-camera" and Elvis PA Kloss Hold provides detailed text (in Norwegian) and a great array of visuals from throughout Elvis's life and career. At the end of the day it probably comes down to what one is interested in.

EIN has rated the three books on the following basis:
  Book Page Design Clarity of Visuals Quality of Text Historical Significance of Content Book Durability
Elvis PA Klass Hold
Elvis Behind The Image
The Rock 'n' Roll Years

* As I can’t read Norwegian, I asked a friend fluent in the language to read several pages at random so I could gauge the quality of the text

Copyright EIN, 2004

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