- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing; First Edition edition (March 2, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0740738038
- ISBN-13: 978-0740738036
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.5 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,738,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Elvis The #1 Hits: The Secret History of the Classics Paperback – March 2, 2003
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The book's subtitle is the "secret history of the classics" but secret is a strong word to describe the stories in this book. There is virtually nothing new in this tome compiled from previously published texts with little original research by the author (save a nice but brief interview with Paul McCartney). Worse many important facts and stories are left out like Elvis saving "Can't Help Falling in Love" from the scrap heap after his buddies tossed it out as "a song Presley wouldn't like". All of the stories that are in here have been told and mostly retold in books like Peter Guralnick's two volume biography (which should be your first stop for Elvis reading) and Jerry Hopkins' books among others.
The only thing in here that wouldn't be known to many of your hardcore Elvis fans is the evolution of the remix of "Little Less Conversation". To be fair, outside of the songs there are also some interesting pieces on margins of the Elvis legend including Elvis' possible Welsh origins and an insane woman who thinks she is Lisa Marie.
And the familarity of the stories doesn't mean the book isn't passable reading. If you are not already familiar with Elvis these stories are probably very enlightening. Humphries is a serviceable critic. He doesn't instill the reader with a burning desire to hear the music like a master like in the style of Greil Marcus, but he does a good job of describing the songs and their impact. And once in awhile he does have an insight or two. (Some readers may be shocked at his contention that Elvis' work provided the framework for the art of Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola etc.) Sadly, he discusses little of Elvis' music beyond the #1 hits, even in passing.
The book is nicely illustrated with a generous helping of pictures. However, most of the pictures are familiar and there is at least one huge [...]in the captions. (On page 37 there's a picture of actor David Scott in "This is Elvis" that is mistakenly identified as the king himself.)
Overall, this is not a bad introduction to Elvis and his music. But, even a beginner would be better off with Guralnick's books or Paul Simpson's "The Rough Guide to Elvis". The latter book has a similar format to this book but much more insight and relevant information.