Category Archives: ELVISWORLD – THE YEAR IN REVIEW

ELVISWORLD 2007 — THE YEAR IN REVIEW

Elvisworld was a busy place again in 2007, the 30th Anniversary year.  Let’s take a look at the most significant events and the new offerings of Elvis DVDs, CDs, books and other products.

 

We Lost Another Elvis Buddy:  Musician Boots Randolph played sax on twenty-one Elvis recording sessions in the 60s.  He was also an Elvis Week fan favorite who performed at many of Darwin Lamm’s  “Good Rockin’ Tonight” concerts.  Boots passed away on July 3 at age 80.

 

Also leaving us in 2007 was Roy McComb.  He and his wife Janelle were long time friends of Elvis and his family.  Composer Ben Weisman, who wrote “Follow That Dream” and over 50 other songs Elvis recorded, passed away at age 85.  Milo High, former pilot of Elvis’ “Hound Dog II,” JetStar plane, also left us in 2007.

 

Significant Events:  In January, EPE started up Elvis Presley Central, an official channel for Elvis videos on YouTube.  Unfortunately, it is a year later, and only four videos have been posted.  You know EPE has lots more stuff, so lets see it.  In February, Graceland Harley-Davidson opened in the heart of the Elvis After Dark Plaza.  The Jungle Room in Graceland provided the background for one of twenty beauties in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. 

 

On March 1, the fabulous exhibit “Elvis Jumpsuits: All Access” opened, featuring 56 of Elvis’ jumpsuits.  Later in the month, Graceland unveiled a special creation by Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light:  “Graceland, 50th Anniversary.”  The event was part of two-days of receptions, tours, and, of course, big-ticket sales.  Also in March, PBS affiliates aired the DVD Elvis Lives – The 25th Anniversary Concert Event.  If you missed the broadcast, get the DVD.  It, and the whole show, are technical marvels.

 

In April, EPE introduced a new ad campaign to lure people to Graceland.  “Discover Your Inner Elvis” was a slick piece of video trickery in which a soccer mom morphs into a singer wearing the American Eagle jumpsuit and does Elvis moves on stage.  Rolling Stone magazine issued a 40th Anniversary issue containing their selections for “40 Songs That Change the World,” and “That’s All Right” made the list.  However, weeks later, they listed their readers’ 40 choices, and the song was not on the list.  I’m sure their readership base is too young to have a full appreciation of the huge significance of “That’s All Right.”

 

On July 26th, cable channel TV Land and the city of Honolulu, Hawaii honored Elvis during the 30th anniversary year with a life-sized bronze sculpture commemorating the King’s 1973 “Aloha from Hawaii.”

 

Elvis Week 2007 (August 11-19) was the biggest ever, and it was filled with new events like Elvis Music and Movies on the lawn at Graceland, The Elvis Expo, and The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest, as well as returning events like The Elvis Insiders Conference, the Candlelight Vigil, and Elvis: The 30th Anniversary concert, that sold out FedExForum.

 

On September 18, ABC TV aired “Elvis: Viva Las Vegas.”  The two-hour TV event in High Definition was touted as examining how the King of Rock-and-Roll reinvented Las Vegas — and how it reinvented him.  However, most fans felt it had too little Elvis and too much of other folks talking about him or singing his songs.

 

CDs:  2007 was a huge year for new Elvis CDs.  The Follow That Dream (FTD) family of releases for serious collectors grew by eight.  Look at this list:

            Live in LA – 1974 concert

            An American Trilogy – 1972 Las Vegas concerts

            50 Million Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong  Classic album reissue

            Raised on Rock — Classic album reissue

            I Sing All Kinds – The Nashville 1971 sessions

            Easy Come, Easy Go – Movie soundtrack reissue

            Pot Luck – Classic album reissue

            Girls, Girls, Girls – Movie soundtrack reissue

            Wild In The Country – Movie soundtrack reissue

As usual, the soundtrack and studio albums have alternate takes, first takes, out- takes, and studio chatter.

 

There were several interesting Sony/BMG releases in 2007.  “Elvis at the Movies” contained 40 songs from Elvis’ 31 movies.  This sure seems like the kind of stuff that FTD specializes in, so I guess they just let Sony/BMG beat them to the concept.   “ELVIS: Viva Las Vegas” features music from the ABC TV special that aired on September 18.  It includes 15 live performances from Elvis’ prime Las Vegas years.  “The Essential Elvis Presley” is a 40-song two CD set, another in the long line of repackaged Elvis hits.

 

DVDs:  There were plenty of new Elvis DVDs for us to buy in 2007, although most were spiffed-up versions of old favorites.  Warner Home Video released “Deluxe Editions” of Viva Las Vegas, Jailhouse Rock, and a “2-Disc Special Edition” of Elvis: That’s The Way It Is, all with lots of bonus features.  Warner also released This is Elvis on DVD for the first time (what took so long?).

 

Warner and Paramount each issued DVD sets of old Elvis movies in collectible cases.  Warner called theirs Elvis: The Hollywood Collection, and it contained six films never before on DVD: Charro, Girl Happy, Kissin’ Cousins, Stay Away Joe, Tickle Me, and Live A Little, Love A Little.  Paramount packaged eight classic Elvis titles in a blue suede case.  The Lights! Action! Elvis! Collection contains King Creole, G.I. Blues, Blue Hawaii, Roustabout, Girls! Girls! Girls!, Fun In Acapulco, Paradise, Hawaiian Style, and Easy Come, Easy Go.

 

Books:  2007 didn’t see the release of the usual number of top-drawer books about Elvis.  Most notable was “The Gospel Side of Elvis” by Joe Moscheo, long-time member of Elvis’ backing group The Imperials.

 

New Products: In April, EPE announced that a new line of Elvis shoes would hit the market.  Produced by PSDI USA, there are four styles of casual shoes in male and female models.  Marie Osmond unveiled her baby Elvis doll “The King,” complete with a little jumpsuit.  Talking Presidents Inc. released the first two of a line of “talking” Elvis action figures. Standing 12 inches tall, the figurines have fully pose-able bodies and they “talk” in Elvis’ own voice. They are displayed in collectible gift boxes with pictures of Elvis that clearly show how the figurines don’t look much like Elvis, at all.

 

Press Pass offered the latest in their line of Elvis trading cards.  Elvis: The Music is built around a base of 81 cards, and each pack offers the chance to get one or more of a dizzying array of bonus cards.  And finally, EPE announced a line of sixteen items containing images of Dale Earnhardt Jr. with his #8 and “Elvis 30” in the paint schemes.  These were produced in limited quantities and may have good collectible value someday, because Earnhardt has lost the number 8 for his racecar and “Elvis 30” will be replaced with some new theme this year.

 

 

So, all in all, 2007 was a huge year for Elvisworld.  2008 promises to be quieter, but whatever happens, Elvisblog will do its best to comment on all as it happens.

 

©  2008   Philip R Arnold   All Rights reserved   www.elvisblog.net

ELVISWORLD 2006 — THE YEAR IN REVIEW

Elvisworld had a busy year again in 2006.  Let’s take a look at the most significant events and the new offerings of Elvis DVD’s, CDs, books and other products.

 

We Lost Another Elvis Buddy: 

 

The saddest event had to be the passing of great friend Charlie Hodge at age 71.  He was a loyal, long-term friend who lived right at Graceland for years.  Charlie is best known as the fellow who sang harmony with Elvis during the 70s concerts and who handed Elvis the white scarves he passed out to screaming female fans.

 

Significant Events:

 

The most publicized event had to be the July visit to Graceland by President Bush and Junichiro Koizumi, Prime Minister of Japan.  This was all over the papers, TV, and the Internet for days.  Priscilla and Lisa Marie greeted the two heads of state, and it looked like everyone had a grand time.

 

In March, Graceland was designated a National Historic Landmark.  It was certainly a justified honor for America’s most recognizable residence after the White House.

 

Lisa Marie married Michael Lockwood in Kyoto, Japan on January 22.  It would be nice if this union works, and so far it seems to be. 

 

In December, the building that formally housed Elvis Presley’s Memphis on Beale Street came back to life as EP Delta Kitchen and Bar.  It was sad to see Elvis Presley’s Memphis close in 2003, but EPE admits that it suffered a significant loss throughout the six years they operated it.  Now they have worked out a deal with Jimmy Ishii, an established restaurateur with eight restaurants in Memphis and nine others from Florida to Missouri.  EP Delta Kitchen and Bar has an emphasis on music from several genres, especially the blues.

 

Elvis 56 and Elvis After Dark exhibits opened in the Graceland visitor center in March.  1956 was the year Elvis’ career exploded, so there are plenty of goodies featured in Elvis 56.  The Elvis After Dark exhibit is a clever concept.  As EPE expressed it, “For much of his life, Elvis Presley was a night person.  After the sun went down, Elvis came out to play.”  I look forward to checking out both of these new attractions during Elvis Week in August.

 

CDs:

 

Follow That Dream Collector’s Label came out with seven new releases in 2006: “Something For Everybody,” “I Found My Thrill,” “Elvis Presley,” “Clambake,” “Let Yourself Go,” “Writing For The King,” and “His Hand In Mind.”  This program is designed to steer fans away from buying bootleg recordings, and they have released some interesting selections.  The FTD series deserves more detailed comment in a future Elvisblog article.

 

“Million Dollar Quartet 50th Anniversary Release” came out in September, and the 1956 session was released in its entirety and in the sequence in which it was originally recorded.  This CD is great from a historical standpoint, but the music is such that most people who buy it won’t be playing it over and over.

 

Elvis’ songs have been repackaged before (notably in the Time/Life series), but Sony BMG released six titles under the Elvis Genre Collection in 2006: “Rock,” “Country,” “Inspirational,” “Live,” “Movies,” and “R&B.”  With 20 songs each and a reasonable price, this seems to be a pretty good deal.

 

DVDs:

 

“Elvis: The 25th Anniversary Concert” is the August 16, 2002 show held at The Pyramid arena in Memphis.  I saw that version of “Elvis The Concert,” and it was great, so if you haven’t seen a touring version of this multimedia event, the DVD might be an alternative to consider.

 

“Elvis: The Ed Sullivan Shows” is not just film segments of Elvis on the shows; it is all three programs in their entirety, plus lots of other goodies.

 

“Elvis: The Ultimate Film Collection” is a big ticket item but worth the cost.  It contains 9 DVD movies, 2 special DVDs (“Elvis: Black Leather Concert” and never before seen home movies), a music rarities CD, movie posters and photos, collectible booklets, a copy of the “Jailhouse Rock” screenplay, all presented in a fancy collectors case.  This one will definitely be on my next Christmas wish list.

 

“Elvis By The Presleys”  The four-hour TV special on CBS is now available as a double-DVD which also contains four new special features.

 

“’68 Comeback Special – Single disc DVD.”  We had the original video, and then the four-DVD release showing every outtake during rehearsals.   I guess this is something in between.

 

“Aloha From Hawaii – Single disc DVD.”   Same history as the Comeback Special.

Books:

 

“Me And A Guy Named Elvis”, by Jerry Schilling.   This is another long-time Elvis buddy, and he held off doing the inevitable Elvis book for 29 years.  This title has been very successful.

 

“GRACELAND: An Interactive Pop-Up Tour.”  I kind of dismissed this one until I watched a film clip about it on www.elvis.com.  Now I think it is a really cool idea, and it is very well done.

 

“Remembering Elvis” by Joe Esposito.  The man who was Elvis’ best friend and tour manager has done other books, but “Remembering Elvis” is a cut above.  It is a classy book with tons of content that you won’t find anywhere else.

 

“Elvis At 21 – New York to Memphis” by Al Wertheimer.  There have been a few good ‘coffee table’ books done about Elvis, but this one is the Grand Champion.  The book is an absolutely spectacular presentation of hundreds of the photos Wertheimer took of Elvis in 1956.  If you get “Elvis at 21” don’t just look at the pictures.  The text by Wertheimer adds wonderful insight into the life of Elvis during the year he burst on the national scene.

 

Needless to say, there are dozens of other books (and CDs, and DVD’s) about Elvis that came out last year, but space doesn’t allow covering all of them here.

 

Other New Products:

 

Elvis Coffee and Hot Chocolate.  How about a cup of “Love Me Tender” Easy Roast” or “Double Trouble” Elvis Hot Chocolate. Four other flavors, as well.

 

New wines from Graceland Cellars.  New selections include “All Shook Up” California Brut Champagne for $12.99, and “Velvet Elvis Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon for $99.99.  Wow – $99.99.  That’s what the press release says.  I’ve got to do some research on this on.

 

 

So, all in all, there was a lot going on in Elvisworld in 2006.  We can expect more of the same in 2007, as the 30th Anniversary year unfolds.  Elvisblog will do its best to comment on all of them as they happen.

 

©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net