Review: Elvis Presley In Person: One Night in Toronto, April 2, 1957
A little disclosure before we begin: I'm not a big fan of the 50's Elvis. It is my second favorite 'Elvis Decade', behind the 70's. Part of my frustration is that his career almost came to a crashing halt just as it was taking off. I'm speaking of course of his enlistment in the US Army. Thankfully he proved the doubters and likely himself wrong and continued his stellar career for another 17 years.
Another part of my frustration is that for as much as we know about the 50's Elvis, there is still a lot we don't know. Previously unknown or undocumented concerts are still coming to light and debates still rage about whether or 'Tiger Man' was actually cut to a record, whether or not Elvis appeared on Roy Orbison's local show, and whether he was actually filmed in the still elusive 'Pied Piper of Cleveland' movie short. That's why I'm thankful for this book.
Elvis Presley In Person: One Night in Toronto, April 2, 1957 perfectly fills in that type of gap. For perhaps the first time we know almost everything there is to know about the two concerts Elvis gave in Toronto in 1957. And what a book it is. Paul Sweeney, Jean-Marc Carisse, and Erik Lorentzen have given us Elvis fans a fantastic 352 page book that documents two of the frustratingly few concerts Elvis gave in another country. The book itself is a large size coffee table size book weighing in at a couple of pounds. The pages are printed on medium stock, semi-gloss pages. All but one of the photos in the book are in stunning black and white.
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Elvis Presley In Person is set up like a diary that gives us in both words and photos what happened on that particular day in 1957. There are time period interviews and questions and answers from the press conferences Elvis gave that day. One of the things the authors chose to include are present day memories from fans and media that were actually there that day and this is a real bonus. Something that is clear from the press conferences is that only a few years after his career started Elvis knew how to handle the press. Performers today have the luxury of press agents, managers, and various other employees that either shield them from the press or do a lot of prep work. Elvis had none of this. The stories from fans are fantastic and the memories from the press all these years later put the day into proper context. The words are worth reading and would have been a great book even without all of the photos.
Yes, the photos. There are over 300 photos from that day that show the press conferences, the fans, Elvis fooling around and letting off steam, and the performances themselves. As I'm not a huge fan of the 50's Elvis the overwhelming majority of the photos are new to my eyes. Being able to see Elvis head to toe in the famous 'Gold Lame' suit is really a visual treat. Even in black and white. For the other show he ditched the pants and wore black ones and even that makes for a cool combination. Some fans are going to complain that some of the performance photos and of him goofing around with friends are blurry and take away from the photos. Nonsense. On the contrary they give us a sense of the action and the wildness of a 50's Elvis performance. Neil Peart, the drummer from the band Rush had a photo book out a few years ago that was done in black and white and with available light. Like some of these photos, they are blurry and out of focus. Rather than detract from the subject the way they are shot only add to what is happening. You just have to see the book to understand what I mean.
The photos of the press conferences are interesting for a couple of reasons as well. One of them is that you see Elvis wearing jackets that he also wore on 45 picture sleeves. It's pretty neat to see him in this clothes that everyone will recognize. The other thing that you'll see is how comfortable Elvis was by this time with the press. He lounges, stretches out, and shifts positions while sitting. There is nothing here to indicate that he was nervous. Quite the contrary he was relaxed and ready to answer any question that he was asked.
I give this book 5 stars for everything.
One other the authors included as part of their introductions and acknowledgements was to explain how they stumbled upon all the photos and then got in touch with the fans and media from that day. As a fan of movies like 'National Treasure' and the 'Indiana Jones' films, I am interested in the hunt too.
Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD Video with Sound.
Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950's with sound. Until Now! 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. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever. + Plus Bonus DVD Audio.
This is an excellent release no fan should be without it.
The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.