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4.0 out of 5 stars Not the final word... how can it be?
Not as gushingly uncritical as one might expect... in fact, not gushingly uncritical at all. While Shane is obviously a fan, high praise is hard to discern, even with the fifties songs where it is fashionable. I wouldn't want Mr Brown's commentaries to influence a new fan, as each of us will (and each of us do) find our own favourites for our own individual reasons...
Published 3 months ago by Alan Tranter

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A rather downbeat analysis of Elvis's music
As a committed Elvis Fan for the last 51 years, and having known his music for 55 years, I know that music inside-out.

Shane has embarked upon, and completed, a considerable task in reviewing all of the 711* master recordings (* official total) with further comments on some of the ‘alternate’ (UK read ‘alternative’) ‘takes’...
Published 9 months ago by Stephen Morse


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A rather downbeat analysis of Elvis's music, 25 Sept. 2014
By 
Stephen Morse (Staffordshire) - See all my reviews
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As a committed Elvis Fan for the last 51 years, and having known his music for 55 years, I know that music inside-out.

Shane has embarked upon, and completed, a considerable task in reviewing all of the 711* master recordings (* official total) with further comments on some of the ‘alternate’ (UK read ‘alternative’) ‘takes’ or versions. To focus upon the recordings, only, is a difficult undertaking to accomplish without becoming repetitive with descriptions or phrases but he has come up with a fairly relaxed and easy-to-read narrative.

It is apparent that Shane (who is very knowledgeable about Elvis’s music and contributes frequently and often prolifically to the FECC Internet forum) has avoided writing as a ‘devoted’ fan. He is more realistic than that and has therefore written in a somewhat dispassionate manner. The downside of this is that his writing lacks a certain warmth towards the music and any humorous comments are given by way of fact rather than fun. No sense of enjoyment or enthusiasm seems to come through.

Thus, I have found the book somewhat over-critical. I bought the paperback (as opposed to Kindle) version and have used a pencil to add my own comments where appropriate and to pick up the occasional typos. Principally, I have put a code in the margins where a particular opinion has been expressed : A = agree ; D = disagree. I would say that the ‘D’s outnumber the ‘A’s by at least 6 to 1, largely because I enjoy 95% of Elvis’s recordings. For example, I can’t believe his criticism of “Loving Arms” on Page 264 - but that’s the nature of opinions, after all.

I think that there is at least a partial explanation of this - of my views being far more positive than Shane’s, that is. I was born in 1948 and Shane in 1974. I lived through all of Elvis’s career and in the context of those times. No amount of research or even comparison of contemporary musical trends can give quite the same perspective. As an example, Shane criticizes ‘Good Luck Charm’ as being bland yet, upon release, it was perfectly in tune with the pop music scene of 1962.

Although the ‘blurb’ on the back of the book claims that it is “ONLY about the music”, that claim is not entirely true as Shane analyses a number of the films to try and put the music into context. Such an approach, to me, is entirely reasonable and to some extent necessary. I am, however, astonished that he should describe Elvis’s performance in Wild In The Country as “awful” (P. 107). In my eyes, his performance was exactly right as the sensitive and troubled Glenn Tyler and (for me) it runs very close with Flaming Star and King Creole as Elvis’s best dramatic interpretation.

Overall I have found that reading the book has not been an uplifting experience and in no way has it made me want to rush to my CD collection and listen to particular songs. I think Shane has been too critical and (for example) bemoans Elvis’s lack of musical progression, e.g. in successive album projects, when the obvious approach at the time would have been, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. He also seems to dwell too much on Elvis’s bombastic approach to many songs in the final few years of his life and his ‘bellowing’ rather than singing, often in Las Vegas and on tour. Whilst I agree that this is a valid criticism, I think he over-emphasises it.

Right until the end of Elvis’s life I was generally satisfied with his recorded output. There were no discussion forums in those days, no alternative (or, if you prefer, ‘rejected’) takes to forensically examine, no concert soundboards in questionable quality to listen to. Agreed, Shane has focused almost exclusively on finished masters but I think that the knowledge of what was really happening in Elvis’s life and recording career can perhaps taint the thinking of someone critiquing the music 37 years later.

It is difficult to rate this book because it is, as Shane states, “a book of opinion and not fact” though, quite obviously, it contains a bundle of facts. In comparison to another Elvis author, Paul Simpson, Shane’s writing style in this book is rather academic and, I’m sorry to say, rather joyless. Paul always projects the enjoyment of being an Elvis fan and his in-depth knowledge is laced with humour, i.e. not taking the whole Elvis thing too seriously. His latest Elvis book, “Elvis Films FAQ” maintains such an approach and, overall, was a bigger project than Shane’s, judging by apparent word count. Amazon’s star ratings are frequently misused. I would probably rate the book at 7 out of 10 if only for the information it contains but, using Amazon’s 5-star system, I feel compelled to give it only 3. I have little doubt that Shane would stoutly defend the criticisms I have made but I have just tried to be honest ; and, after all, it is just my opinion, so he has a perfect right to do so !
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not the final word... how can it be?, 30 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: ELVIS PRESLEY: A LISTENER'S GUIDE (Kindle Edition)
Not as gushingly uncritical as one might expect... in fact, not gushingly uncritical at all. While Shane is obviously a fan, high praise is hard to discern, even with the fifties songs where it is fashionable. I wouldn't want Mr Brown's commentaries to influence a new fan, as each of us will (and each of us do) find our own favourites for our own individual reasons. Listen to the songs first.. all of them... then buy the book. Nicely written, and entertaining.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must for all Elvis fans, 25 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: ELVIS PRESLEY: A LISTENER'S GUIDE (Kindle Edition)
Very informative. Lots of detail to individual sessions. A must for old and new fans alike.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent attempt to update the music legacy, 5 Jun. 2015
By 
Mr. J. Hadwin "John Hadwin" (England, Liverpool) - See all my reviews
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Insightful, entertaining and interesting. An excellent attempt to update the music legacy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great read for Fans and general music listeners, 29 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: ELVIS PRESLEY: A LISTENER'S GUIDE (Kindle Edition)
Great, honest straight to the point, and not at all biased!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 6 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: ELVIS PRESLEY: A LISTENER'S GUIDE (Kindle Edition)
if its about Elvis it cant be bad
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic analysis of the Presley song canon!, 9 Aug. 2014
This review is from: ELVIS PRESLEY: A LISTENER'S GUIDE (Kindle Edition)
I borrowed this book from a friend who bought it and I couldn't put it down! This is a top notch publication which is highly informative on all eras of Elvis' career. The author certainly knows his stuff, and it's a cleverly written, yet sensible and highly readable book. Very much recommended for fan's of 50's, 60's and 70's Presley. A worthy and much-needed addition to the list of Elvis-related books. I look forward to the author's next release.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Detailed and Thorough study of (mostly) Elvis's STUDIO recordings., 26 Aug. 2014
By 
G. J. Mc Donnell "caveelvis" (Sydney,Australia) - See all my reviews
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Well i have read the first 2 chapters now and it's quite 'stimulating reading' it makes one want to play those old recordings again Also (mostly) i agree with what is said up to the end of 1956(although i would have enlarged on what could be said about the Steve Allen July 1st 1956 show!! whilst i agree with what is said about the early performances i get annoyed when i read that "The September 28th 1956 Live recordings are difficult to enjoy and evaluate due to DISTORTION- so little is said!.Still i am finding reading it 'stimulating' and will read more over the weekend.It seems a far deeper evaluation than Robert Mathew Walkers book!Just read Chapter #3 and probably my most enjoyable yet~!...thoroughly agree, but i'm going to take you to task on your 'statement:-"Blueberry Hill- Elvis would return to the song in the 70's and each time it would be an improvement on the studio master!" does that mean the St Petersburgh 14/2/77 live version beat's the studio master??Particularily enjoyed reading chapters 5 & 6 today....loved the comment from Shane that Girl Happy (8% sped up track) could have resulted in an un-issued Album titled 'Elvis sings on Helium' sums up this awful movie period perfectly , BUT highlights same ballads that i personally care for too. Good Reading today and this book is a KEEPER~! finished the book on way to work this morning.So i read chapters 7-10. Disagree with a few points in the 70's stuff.on page 245 Shane states that Elvis sang 'It's a Matter of Time' 11 months later... in FACT it was some 17 months later!
Aloha shows get a VERY interesting write up and one that i (mostly) agree with.The 1973 Albums too get a very good mention! Apart from NOT mentioning the June/July 1973 tour he has 1973 well summed up.
Also he states the Summer 1973 Vegas season (as illustrated by the seasons worst show released on FTD -the closing nights show) Myself feel particularily the last week of shows were musically VERY good indeed with many Excellent live versions of 'studio dud's' such as THE FIRST TIME EVER I SAW YOUR FACE.. and lengthy one hour well sung shows.
Glad Shane also likes the 1975 'studio work'!~ and agrees first part of 1975 was a good year. Many fans would argue that say BEST shows from July 75' DID Exceed quality of shows from 1974~!
and whilst Shane does DETAIL the Aug/Sept 74' troubled Vegas season it wasn't at the expense of songs sung that the show changed it was at the expense of length of show where Elvis would go into his Karate Monologues etc and often run a dinner show to 80/90 minutes which DELIGHTED THE FANS but annoyed the Hilton Management because it gave them less time to clear tables b4 the 2nd show in any day.
otherwise it's a 9/10 book and whilst Shane says these better concerts of last years are just 'Blimps' on the downward trend...i don't want to overlook or forget some of those fine concerts why even an obviously(from pictures) drugged Elvis could still put out a show that pleased fans as the last Memphis 5/7/76 show reveals -its a surprisingly good show from an obviously affected Elvis. Maybe he was insistant that he gave his home town a far better than 'usual show'? who knows.Many others including myself would love a Soundboard from the Tulsa July 4th 1976 show because again it was a surprisingly good/strong show
Also on page 280 whilst mentioning the song 'It's Easy For You'(which on that page Shane omits even the song title! and dislikes the released 'take' he doesn't mention how that FTD released take 1 was excellent (in my opinion) Also on same page whilst he is showing Elvis's poor 1976 concerts by a newspaper quote of the Long Beach April 1976 show(doesn't indicate which one?) better shows don't get 'illustrated/mentioned' such as say Eugene Nov 25th FIRST 1976 show that has the singer singing with care and warmth!
In the Coda section on page 293 the FTD release 'Dragonheart' is slammed(where as i would rather say it is an 'ok' but not fantastic show)
and on page 270 the Author says 'The 2nd half of 1974 was a DISASTER!' Geez what o complete over dramatic and in correct statement.
Apart from the closing Vegas Show on September 2nd and a few poor filled with back-up singers performance September 1974 October tour shows the rest of the shows were GOOD/Lengthy and well attended recieved!~
other than that i pretty much like and agree with what shane writes, particularily during the 1970-1971 period of 'studio work'.
Its a great read and put's into perspective Elvis's recording work-even if (at times) it dis misses 'live' work as a swift ride DOWNHILL -- when in reality it did still contain 'highlights' such as Uniondale 1975 shows or Pittsburgh 1976!~
So would i recommend this book-YES... but (like me) Don’t expect to agree with all he says!
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars well the only good thing, it returns you back to the music, 20 Sept. 2014
Nothin new here.Plodding read.Each song reveiw gets just a few words.well the only good thing , it returns you back to the music.
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