Sunday, September 19, 2021

September 19 - Review Elvis In Japan eBook

Longtime fan and Elvis collector David Ward published the book ‘Elvis In Japan: Japanese LPs 1956 – 2018’ as an e-book. Time for a closer look at Elvis releases from the land of the rising sun. 




‘Elvis In Japan’ appears to be written as a physical book but comes as a digital book in PDF-format, 28 MB in size. The choice for this format has advantages, but also some disadvantages. 


It is a standard format and easily readable on many devices. Navigation is easy but basic. From the index you go to the LP-page with one click of the mouse, and you can jump to the same album in other sections. For further navigation you need to use the tools available in your PDF-reader. But in this format you lose the advantages of a real digital book like the ‘Elvis UK’ books, released earlier this year, that used flip-book technology offering a menu and more navigation and search features beneficial for these kind of reference books.


The book is structured in various logical chapters. Opening with some introduction on various aspects of Elvis’ Japanese releases, the LPs are presented in chronological order and organized in various categories and series.


The page-design is well structured too, although the author deviates from his own design on certain pages, but that is in part due to the extra illustrations for variations of that album. Most collectors probably prefer to see the all artwork and labels in once glance.


The resolution of the illustrations is good when just reading the book, but collectors may want to zoom in on the little details that differentiate the various editions of a certain title. Perhaps it is an option to distribute this eBook in a higher resolution.


Although the book is presented full-color, featuring hundreds of color photos, the presentation could have been a bit brighter. As these books do hold some nice Japanese eye-candy a few full page illustrations, advertisements or other memorabilia would have been nice. Otherwise you start scrolling through the pages when you are not a collector trying to identify some of the Japanese items from your collection. 




The author explained the reason for writing this book: "“Why do I need this book? I can get this information on the web, can’t I?” you might be asking yourself. While a lot of information on Elvis’ Japanese LPs is now available on the internet, it is not possible to find all the information in this book on one website. 


In 1987, a Japanese Elvis Discography was published, containing color photographs of nearly every one of his record releases: LPs, EPs and singles. While I have spent many enjoyable hours thumbing through that book, it is far from perfect.” My goal with this book is to pick up where the Japanese Elvis Discography left off, although I have limited the book to LPs only."


An ambitious endeavor, but I must say that David Ward published an interesting read. Limiting himself to Long Play albums only, he presents every LP releases between 1956 and 2018, over 400 albums in total.


The author did his research and is clear about the information presented,  you will find information on every pressing of every album known to the author. He has lived in Japan for approximately twenty years, so should be knowledgeable about the main subject of this book.


In the introduction ward sets the scene listing all the titles, information on the pressing of Elvis records, the typical Japanese Obi’s, cover-art, labels, pricing and more. The author distinguishes the mono and stereo versions, but didn’t add a chapter on the audio-quality of the Japanese releases. This would have been interesting as many audiophile fans prefer the Japanese releases for their audio-quality. 


To rate the various pressings and editions he introduced his own 5-step ranking system (R5 being very rare, R1 being very common in Japan) which helps collectors appreciate the items in their collection.  


Looking at the content - and not being an expert - the book holds a complete overview of Japanese releases. Each album is presented with pictures of the front and back cover-art, tracklisting, serial numbers for the various pressings  and notes detailing all aspects of the album.


The text is very informative and David has a pleasant writing style. You see he is knowledgeable and enthusiastic at the same time. And with so much details available many will learn something new browsing these pages, and be triggered to do some further research of their own. 


A really interesting chapter is the one on the “Obi’s”, a typical feature of Japanese releases. Like the hype-stickers – to which you can compare them - on the U.S. releases, these are part of the magic for collectors of material from the country of the rising sun. And this book features plenty of them, including the additional details and translations. It may be a wonder so many survived. The same goes for the bonus-posters presented in between the records. This chapter will certainly interest collectors worldwide.


Living in Europe I particularly enjoyed the typical Japanese covers like the ‘Top 10’ and ‘Rock Elvis Rock’ LPs featuring Elvis on the cover but also other artist on the LP, ‘Elvis’ Christmas Album’, the classic ‘Loving You’, ‘A Date With Elvis’, ‘Something For Everybody’ and exclusive Japanese releases like the 'Rock‘n Roll Album' with odd artwork, the 'Presley Golden Hymn' album comprising the 'His Hand in Mine' and 'How Great Thou Art' albums and the 'BIG 20' in-store promo LP, .


Looking from a fan’s perspective, the Japanese fans were treated better than others with gate-fold sleeves, calendars, additional lyric sheets and posters. Most of them featured in this book and great to discover scrolling through these pages. Interesting to see that where the Japanese singles often featured new cover-art, the design of the LPs remains close to the original U.S. editions. 


The book ends with some funny translation errors made because the transcriber lacked knowledge of the English language or simply couldn’t understand Elvis as he sung too fast, slurred the words or pronounced them in a certain way to create a certain effect. On the transcription of ‘Polk Salad Annie’: “Down in Louisiana / Where the alligators go to some meeting” the author noted: “So that’s why they get so snappy around people – they’re late for the Alligator AGM.




The book obviously is a labor of love and it looks like the author succeeded in the ambitious endeavor he set for himself making this is the first English book covering all the Japanese LPs in detail. Collectors will appreciate the wealth of information compiled on these pages as it is a good and up-to-date reference. David Ward found and organized probably most of the material available with some real gems as the chapter on the Obi’s. 


And being a reference, it is a pity it is available as a digital book only. The author stated that printing and shipping was expensive from Japan, perhaps using print-on-demand, like Amazon offers, can be an option for fans who prefer a physical copy, as the book deserves a spot on the bookshelf of Elvis collectors. 

Let's hope David Ward will do another volume of Elvis' singles and EPs.

More information

Here is a preview of the book by author David Ward.

The book is available on-line from the autor at >>> Payhip for US$ 10.-