This is a superb little book, crammed full of fascinating facts and opinions about the first true rock star. Who'd have known, for example, that Elvis adored Monty Python or that he thought Roy Orbison was a better singer than him? Dave Simpson is clearly a fan, but not a rabid one. He's as alive to Elvis's absurdities and shortcomings as he is to his magnificence and splendour.
People forget how VERSATILE Elvis was. Simpson rightly points out that he was masterful at performing pop, rock, ballads, country, soul, gospel and blues. Of the major musical genres, only jazz and reggae remained untouched by his superhuman tonsils.
The section '50 Essential Songs' (FIFTY! Most artists would be happy with half that number!) was voted for by fans from all over the world and tells the stories behind some of The King's best-loved songs, plus lesser-known (yet equally brilliant) tracks like 'Reconsider Baby', 'Any Day Now' and 'Stranger In My Own Home Town'.
Reading the amusing and enlightening chapter on Elvis's films, it's heartening to know that Elvis was frequently disgusted and outraged by the substandard scripts and songs presented to him. If he could only have turned that rage on the Colonel, who knows how many more great songs he would've made instead of humiliating himself with dross like 'Old Macdonald'.
Simpson writes in a humourous, accessible style, and there are plenty of fascinating inserts on topics such as 'The 10 weirdest songs', 'Elvis and The Colonel', 'The King's robes', 'Priscilla and the women' etc.
A concise round-up of the 50 or so best (or just downright weirdest) books on Elvis concludes the Guide, and shows just how collossal and all-pervasive Presley's influence on music and popular culture has been.
If you don't fancy wading through Peter Guralnick's epic 2 volume biography, but would like to find out more than the basics about Presley's amazing life and work, Dave Simpson's book is for you.