Almost everything I know now comes from reading books, listening and watching interviews, movies or fan-footage and last but not least from listening to the great amount of his music. However most of the time you can hear the same people talking about Elvis and their experiences with him for example Joe 'Diamond' Esposito, Larry Geller, Lamar Fike to name a few.
To be truthful I'm getting really tired nowadays from listening to their stories over and over again. Seldom you have the chance to listen to someone who was there and had experienced Elvis as a fan. That's one reason I find the new book Elvis On Tour '75 - Photos from the heart from Sandi H. Pichon refreshing. So let's dig into the book.
Elvis and 1975? What'd you think of Elvis in 1975? The first thing that comes to my mind is the comment 'fat & forty' on the occasion of his 40th birthday. Even knowing the fact that Elvis wasn't a darling of the critics most of the time of his career, it can be said that it was a very malicious comment.
That aside the comment makes clear that Elvis was written off from his critics as a relic of 50s at that time. So why bother to release a book about Elvis on tour in 1975? Because the answer is - simple as it is - it's absolutely worthwhile.
What's this book like? It contains on more than 130 pages, about 400 pictures - almost unpublished - of four concerts from the April - May 1975 tour, exactly from the concert in Jacksonville from April 25th and from the three concerts he gave in Atlanta from April 30th to May 2nd.
All the photos - which were for the biggest part shot by Pichon herself (a fewer are credited to Alverson & Phillips) - are sharp and get delivered in pristine quality. Alone for the quality and the rarity of the photos, the book would have been recommended. But there's much more to it than alone the quality.
Pichon is telling the reader what fans have felt like to have Elvis in town and to know that they would see him live in concert that particular day. Her description about all the things that were thought and done around the concert and especially Elvis creates a new picture for me of Elvis and his devoted fans in 1975.
The excitement of those days is getting lively again! Now you get the feeling that for the fans there was no difference between the Elvis in let's say 1970 in comparison to 1975 - the thrill of going to an Elvis concert hasn't changed a bit since then!
Hopefully you're lucky enough to have an import recording from one of those concerts which get covered in the book, while listening to the music, watching those fantastic photos and browsing through the whole book, because that makes it an even better experience - if that's possible!
The book offer lots and lots of high quality pictures to look at, a remarkable and never before seen layout of an Elvis book and a story told by a fan who was at the concerts and knew Elvis personally.
Fortunately there are at least three import CDs available which offer two out of four concerts or at least parts of them, which are 'A Damn Fine Show' (from April 25th/ soundboard recording released by Vicky), 'Live At The Omni' (from May 2nd/ audience recording released by Wizard Ing. Cop.) and 'We'll Make You Happy' (from April 25th/ soundboard recording released by Savoy).
As an extra plus (to be correct, the book starts with it) you get an oversight of all concert dates of '75 including the Vegas concerts and also the number of attendance and in parts the gross of the concerts.
Coming to an end I'd like to say that I really liked the release Born To Rock which was in my opinion unique in quality, packaging and concept and I recommended it highly.
This time it gets even better. They've made a big step-up in terms of design and layout as the paper-quality stays the same like the paper-quality of the 'Born To Rock' release.
What's so great about the layout is that you'll get the impression of motion by watching the photos, which are presented in different sizes changing from smaller ones to full-page ones, which makes browsing through the book very varying.
Also awesome is the induction of memorabilia stuff, ticket stubs, newspaper reviews - you could go on and on. Therefor Regina Wiegand who's responsible for cover, book design and layout deserves an extra applause. She did a marvelous job, which makes this book my favorite 70s book.
The foreword is written by Sonny West and Elvis tour producer Charles Stone what makes clear that this book is something special as it is written by a fan who was well known and accepted by the so called inner circle from Elvis.
So with this book you'll get a very good impression of Elvis as a performer and entertainer in his latter days and much more you can learn something about the relationship from Elvis with his fans in those days.
It should also be said, that this book is - as usual at Praytome Publishing - a hardcover book in the format they've used for their former book releases Behind The Image Vol.1 & 2.
Way to go Praytome Publishing! Highly recommended.
The book is in stock and can be ordered through the official Australian distributor Elvis Australia.