Review by: my boy
Elvis Presley’s jumpsuited persona payed a debt to Las Vegas piano playing legend Libarace, who helped create his iconic 1970s image. It’s fitting that a chat with the extravagant entertainer in 1950s Las Vegas was the catalyst for the King’s showmanship, so adored by fans. Elvis created a double whammy: His explosive stage moves –– and karate kicks across the stage –-coupled with eye catching, flashy rhinestone encrusted jumpsuits – proved ultimately a killer combination!
Presley fans know every jumpsuit name, either official, or at the time informally coined by an album cover appearance. The jumpsuits have their own story –– ELVIS: FASHION FOR A KING FTD BOOK 2-CD (Pal Grunland), who attempts to cover every jumpsuit from the BLACK HERRINGBONE (1969) –– to the last one ever worn, the MEXICAN SUNDIAL (1977).
It’s a heavy book with a great cover shot of Elvis from his 1969 Vegas season, and its substantial weight indicates the depth of subject matter...
There’s exceptionally handsome double page spreads from most years: the jaw-dropping WHITE 2-PIECE SUIT & TURQUOISE CONCHO STONES BELT from 1972 Pg. 206; the LIGHT BLUE 3-PIECE SPANISH FLOWER SUIT/SILVER CAPE & WHITE SHIRT, 1972 (with a stunning pic of its Spanish treasure styled belt Pg. 282-283); and a fabulous 1975 shot of the DARK BLUE 2-PIECE RED/GOLD ORNAMENTS SUIT Pg. 374-375 –– with James Burton poised on a rockin’ lick in the background.
Also at the top of each page there’s Elvis’s initial, a quality touch. However, there is a lack of capes and belts shown. For example: there’s a double page spread devoted to boxing legend Muhammed Ali’s, Elvis styled robe, a gift from EP himself, but it’s room that could have been better suited for the King’s capes, or belts.
Additionally, the text which is informative suffers from proofreading errors. Although it’s in the small details with a book costing this much, more effort could have resulted in a better product. Furthermore, there are no FTD Album cover images featuring the suits, thus further enhancing the book; after all it is a FTD project?
As a result the book is flawed. The detailed work that must have went into the capes is lost on the reader. Nonetheless the sheer number of fantastic on-stage images thrill and give a little taste of what it must have been like to have been at the front row at an Elvis Presley concert in the 1970s.
Thumbing through the book the smell of fresh paper stock adds to the experience, and it has to be said the book still deserves a high rating ––more standout images: The AMBER GOLD VINE SUIT & GOLD CAPE from 1974, with its WELLS FARGO AMERICAN EAGLE MEDALLIONS BELT; and a stunning double page spread of –– THE TURQUOISE PHOENIX SUIT & LIGHT BLUE LUCKY BELT ’74, (STAMPS/SWEETS in background Pg. 327).
Images could be a tad sharper with the embroidered AMERICAN EAGLE SUIT from 1974 definitely better in the FTD - LIVE IN LA BOOK. Elvis was in fantastic shape through most of 1974 and the images are testament. It’s a book to revel in; peruse over a period of 2-3 weeks and just soak up the iconic images of arguably the world’s greatest entertainer.
The additional soundboards are worthy live concerts with the Omaha 1974 show featuring an on-form Elvis performing solid renditions of most of his hits. The sound is superb, and although there’s no surprises it’s very enjoyable. The blues blaster –– “Steamroller Blues” is a good bonus and well performed. Elvis wore the INCA GOLD LEAF SUIT, (wonderful double page spread Pg. 332-333).
The Las Vegas DEC 14. “75 show is compelling and even though Elvis sounds a little tired there are many highlights: a solid, “See See Rider” is followed by the “I Got A Women” routine. The 1950s hits get a decent run through too–– but the real plaudits go to “Polk” which is very good for 1975.
The sound on the CD is very good with only one or two moments of distortion on the louder parts. The intros are interesting as James Burton gets to play not only Johnny B.Goode, but his “chicken pickin” solo too – sounding like a warm-up for ‘Suzie Q’ –– the Dale Hawkins 1950s hit he played on. What a pity Elvis didn’t latch on and perform the number?
The gospel favourite “How Great Thou Art” gets a reprise and it’s the latter part of the concert which thrills. A rockin “Burning Love” keeps things sailing along. While the gentle, “Softly As I Leave You/America” is another well performed highlight.
However, it’s the Italian sung intro to – “It’s Now Or Never” that gets top billing; a brilliant moment even if Elvis struggles with the English lyrics after the first 20 secs of bliss – then the obligatory closer and it’s home for a nightcap. Elvis wore the WHITE EGYPTIAN BIRD SUIT (Pg. 426).
All things considered - ELVIS: FASHION FOR A KING is essential for fans of the 1970s jumpsuited Elvis, with enough striking images to wow! Nevertheless more work should have gone into the text by the Authors, Tommy Edvardsen and Atle Larsen... They admit towards the end of the book that all of Elvis jumpsuits may not have been seen; some indeed may surface in forthcoming years – a tantalising prospect.
If it were not for Elvis, we may not have had Elton John’s outrageous outfits of the ‘70s, and a whole host of other big name acts followed Elvis’s lead from the Rolling Stones, Queen, to Aerosmith, and also to Lady Ga Ga’s current enthralling showmanship.
As a FTD project it has appeal especially with two great soundboards. Moreover the enormity of the book and its contents deserved more time to get it right. Follow That Dream supremo Ernst Jorgensen must ensure future book releases at this high price don’t suffer from the same mistakes...
Images from the book ––
Stunning pictures 1972