Elvis : Caught in a Trap : Book Review

By: David Neale
Source: Books In Print
March 19, 2011


I am not great lover of Elvis photo books and certainly not of Elvis concert photo books, nor am I a 'jumpsuit junkie'. 'Elvis: Caught in a Trap' should, then not appeal to me and, indeed, when I heard about this title, I thought it would be yet another collection of previously published concert photos with limited commentary and a high price-tag -- another attempt to suck the Elvis fan dry, in other words. I am pleased to admit that I was very wrong!

'Elvis: Caught in a Trap' is a collection of photographs made by a Dutch photographer by the name of Laurens van Houten, who has photographed numerous big names in the pop scene, including John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones. Laurens was not an Elvis fan when he was asked to take photos of Elvis in concert during a trip to Las Vegas with a group of European fans in September 1973. Nevertheless, Laurens accepted the assignment and, in his own amusing and interesting preface, explains how he went about taking the photographs, when photography was strictly prohibited, having to smuggle the parts of his camera into the showroom, use bribery to obtain a good position, and rely on the cooperation of other fans to prevent his activities from being spotted.

He also gives some insight into the excitement of the fans in the group, and his own gradual realisation that Elvis was more than just another singer.

Of course, the major part of the book is reserved for the photographs that Laurens took during the course of three of Elvis' performances. And they really are excellent photographs! Over some 100 pages, the photographs, apparently in chronological order, in both black and white and full colour, show Elvis both having fun on stage and belting out for all he's worth. One sequence of pages of almost full-length close-ups are shots taken rapidly one after the other and give an excellent idea of Elvis in full flow. Most of the photographs are without comment -- all that really needs to be said with the collection is included in the foreword and preface -- but a few are accompanied by insightful remarks quoted from associates of Elvis, including Ronnie Tutt, Shaun Nielsen and Glen Hardin (who also provides an introduction). A few contemporary newspaper clips about the shows, and a couple of pages showing the use of Laurens van Houten's Elvis photos on the covers of Dutch magazines complete the book'.

Elvis: Caught in a Trap oozes quality: it is excellently bound, with illustrated boards and saddle stitching; the photographs are printed on equally excellent paper and the text is well written. The title, incidentally, refers to Elvis' professional plight at the time the photographs were taken and is very well explained by Arjan Deelen in his own foreword, that provides a superb idea of Elvis' struggle at the time.

It is likely that a great many Elvis-related titles will be published this year, the 25th anniversary of Elvis' death; many of them, I have no doubt, will be pretty terrible -- 'Elvis: Caught in a Trap' will probably stand head and shoulders above most of them and should occupy a place in every fan's library.

Elvis Presley : September 1, 1973 DS. : Las Vegas, NV. From the book; Elvis : Caught In A Trap.

Elvis Presley : September 1, 1973 DS. : Las Vegas, NV. From the book; Elvis : Caught In A Trap.


Elvis: Caught in a Trap
Author: Arjan Deelen, Laurens van Houten
Publisher: Peter Haan / Rock Legends Publications
ISBN: 87-988844-0-9

David Neale

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Note Elvis Australia Note :

Elvis : Caught In A Trap really is a great photo book. True, this book contains some of the most amazing Elvis photos ever taken, with Elvis performing on stage with a toy monkey on his back [and Elvis on Lamar Fike's back] but these tend to stereotype the book almost like a gimmick, they are only 8 of 120 pages and while very interesting don't make for enough reason to buy a book, but it is the other pages that do, all told it is a high quality book, with clear photos in color and b/w. In all, there are around 135 Elvis Presley photographs in this book, 80 of which are in full color. So without any reservation, we highly recommend this book.

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