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Book Review

Book Cover

Counting Down Elvis
His 100 Finest Songs (Hardback)


Author: Mark Duffett
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 978 1 4422 4804 5
Publication Date: 23 February 2018

Like or loath him, there is no doubt that Elvis Presley made a significant contribution to music. His life and works has generated many hundreds of books, so why would we need another?

Counting Down Elvis: His 100 Finest Songs (2018. 293 pages), written by Mark Duffett, is the most recent in a short series of books which takes a single artist and asks a writer to defend their choice of their best work.

Externally this may look like just another one of those stocking filler books, but if you are a fan of Elvis, or musical history in general, you will find much here that is of interest. The author provides a couple of sides of acknowledgements as well as a couple by way of introduction. Here he admits that many gems may be missing from the list, but that, as this is his own top 100, he is alright with people disagreeing.

Each song is given a number (obviously starting with 100 and descending to 1) the songs title and were the song first appeared. The songs do not appear in a chronological order, which means that the pages of text dip in and out of various parts of Elvis’s life.

The text itself is rich in information about the songs, their genesis and anything of significance or importance. As these aspects often reflected Elvis’s life the whole thing creates a kaleidoscope effect. This rather gives the impression that the book was designed to be dipped in and out of, rather than read like a novel.

I’m not a great fan of Elvis, but Duffett is able to uncover informational nuggets which keep the reader's interest up. Nor is this just a cheap throw it together book. You also get a list of his next 100. There are thirty-five pages of notes, followed by a five page bibliography and index.

So, what at first glance seemed to be an uninteresting list book, Duffett has produced a fascinating look at both Elvis and his songs.


Charles Packer

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