The latest Pirzada 'deluxe coffee-table' extravaganza (produced in association with JAT) is a fantastic and exhaustive look at one of the King’s biggest triumphs, his history making concert in Hawaii a few days after his 38th birthday in 1973. From the ingenious ‘atmospheric’ inner title page to its final impressive image, Elvis Aloha via satellite oozes care, incredible effort in sourcing photos and high quality.
Like the earlier Boxcar books, Aloha via satellite is a mammoth hard cover release housed in a sturdy slipcase. The slipcase is cleverly designed with a hole in the front allowing Elvis' face on the book cover to show through. As we have come to expect from Boxcar the book design by Regina Harrar is first-rate. The book itself measures 30cm x 25cm and 'weighs in' approaching a very heavy 3kgs (6lbs).
Elvis Aloha via satellite is structured into 10 chapters plus an Introduction and Epilogue. Everything you could want to know and view about the historic telecast is here! It comprises 440 stunning pages, more than 1,000 visuals.
Much to Parker's surprise, there was absolutely no apprehension on the part of Elvis who, on the contrary, was ecstatic with enthusiasm over the prospect. The idea of being “the first” to participate in such an event very much appealed to his ego which caused him to become excited about the challenge and actually propelled him out of depression. Providing just enough distraction and allowing him to tap into the raw energy that lay just beneath the surface of his psyche, Elvis was motivated once more!
A range of interesting archival material nicely supplements the photo-narrative and includes:
• Pre-contract letters
• RCA news releases
• Aloha song lists
• Several sketches including a wonderful two-page spread showing the stage design for the show
The accompanying text states:
Describing Elvis' November performance in Long Beach, California, as “tame”, Pasetta suggests the idea to create an elaborate backdrop replete with enormous mirrors (allowing for the illusion of added depth and movement) incorporating large, multi-colored lights spelling out E-L-V-I-S in various languages!
Among the interesting memorablia, early on in the book potential Aloha set-lists are featured as well as a list of songs where perfomance clearance was requested.
Hard to believe that 'The Wonder Of You', 'My Babe', 'The Impossible Dream' and 'Suzy Q' (what a great idea) were considered but dropped. Similarly one has to consider whether other songs such as 'The Twelfth Of Never' or Nilsson's 'Without You' would have worked.
... "BY MOST ACCOUNTS Elvis was as happy and exhilarated as anyone around him had ever seen. Once more presented with an artistic challenge, he embraced each day that brought the live show date nearer. He incessantly pondered his intended presentation, emphatically compiling and revising the set-list on a daily basis. Among the musical gems being considered were songs like "The Wonder Of You", My Babe", "The Impossible Dream", "Suzy Q", and "The Twelfth Of Never". These selections were eventually omitted in favor of "What Now My Love", "Steamroller Blues", "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry", "It's Over" and "My Way". Clearly, Elvis was leaning towards the big, powerful ballads as he set out on his mission to showcase his unique vocal prowess and versatility.
"Love Me Tender", the "Teddy Bear" /"Don't Be Cruel" medley in addition to "One Night" and "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" were also considered and eventually dropped apparently for the above reason as well as fear of repetition of the last television outing. Replication of the "Elvis on Tour" documentary is also a factor as "Proud Mary", "Polk Salad Annie", and "Never Been to Spain" are discarded. "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me", "Until It's Time For You To Go" and "How Great Thou Art" all of which were included in each of the three November gigs are also sadly omitted. "
Undoubtedly fans will be blown away by the multitude of visually striking riches on display in Elvis Aloha via satellite. However, the narrative should not be overlooked. It is well constructed, focused and insightful, offering a fresh and vibrant account of Elvis and the making of Aloha.
The photos in the book traverse a wide spectrum of human emotion:
• the dangerous Elvis symbolically stalking his rapt audience both in the arena and at home ‘via satellite’
• the 'Hillbilly Cat' Elvis bumping and grinding
• the poignant Elvis delivering a heartfelt love song as only he could
• the playful Elvis
• the introspective Elvis
• an audience at one in awe of the star and at other times overcome with a transparent physically and emotionally charged demeanour
Many of the photos are presented in full-page format, providing for a glorious in-your-face visual treat.
The 1,000 images are a mix of full color and b&w with the number of breathtaking inclusions shared equally between the two formats.
There are more than 50 visuals in the book which are previously unpublished. Pirzada searched worldwide for the photos and as a result they are sourced from nearly 20 different companies and collector archives. Among the well known sources are the NBC Archives, Ed Bonja, Joseph Tunzi and Andreas Pendl.
There are so many pictorial highlights that it is difficult to know where to start. A double page spread from the 'rehearsal' show (pp 202-203) is masterful, showing Elvis on the edge of the stage backed by his band and orchestra with an adoring and animate audience reaching out to touch him. You can almost feel the electricity and excitement of the moment.
Similarly, another double page visual (pp 56-57) shows a remarkable close up shot of the chest portion of the 'Eagle' jumpsuit with its hundreds of stones, stars and gems assaulting your visual sense through the glorious resonance of their vibrant colors.
Many of the photos are presented in full page format. Together with the large format of the book this gives superb clarity to Elvis' facial nuances (you can literally feel the beads of sweat cascading down his cheeks) and for example, the intricate detail of the 'Eagle' jumpsuit and the evocative reaction of the King's willing audience.
Aloha from Hawaii represents the last major performance achievement of Elvis' career. The only other potential opportunity to rival it was nixed by the Colonel in the mid- 1970s when he received a $10 million offer from Saudi sheikhs for Elvis to perform in front of the pyramids in Egypt.
The 'firsts' for Elvis and his “Aloha” concert are no less impressive today than they were in 1973 and they are all detailed in Elvis Aloha via satellite. They include Elvis Aloha for Hawaii via satellite being the:
• first ever 'satellite' broadcast of an entertainment show
• first ever quadraphonic album to reach #1 on the Billboard Album Chart
• first ever album to be released simultaneously on a global basis
• The end shot features a sensational previously unpublished photograph of Elvis carrying the crown given to him by a female fan at the end of the Aloha performance. His coolness says it all.
• Overall Verdict: Elvis Aloha via satellite is the DEFINITIVE book about Elvis' historic satellite show. It is a book that you will revisit time and time again to marvel at the King’s majesty in his final supreme performance moment. Grab it while you can!