Chester academic reveals the best Elvis songs in new book.

Posted on 28th August 2018

The King’s greatest songs have been explored in a new book by an academic at the University of Chester.

The North West Media Centre
The North West Media Centre

Dr Mark Duffett is a Reader in Media and Cultural Studies and is widely recognised as an expert on popular music and music fandom and his PhD focussed on Elvis Fandom.

His latest book, Counting Down Elvis His Finest 100 Songs (Rowman & Littlefield), celebrates the King’s vast songbook and details more than 200 songs with the first 100 accompanied by insightful and interesting background detail.

Over the course of the last six decades, Elvis Presley has sold a billion records and is an iconic figure across the globe. In the book, Dr Duffett encourages readers to put aside the misleading stereotypes and rumour-filled debates about Elvis and listen once again to the legend who emerged from Memphis.

Not only does the book discuss the music of Elvis it also offers fascinating accounts of the socio-cultural background to the recording of the songs and reflecting on Elvis’s mood in the recording studio.

Dr Duffett said: “I was lucky to be asked to make this book. I had to skip a lot of gems and make some hard choices. I’m not going to pretend to claim some kind of superior status as a devotee or critic. There are always other ways to hear Elvis’ music. There is much, much more to learn.

“This is my personal 100 countdown. If you are a dedicated fan, part of the fun will be in deciding how much it resembles yours.” 

He ranked each song subjectively and chose songs that broadly reflected Elvis’s known catalogue of music. He said: “I had a lot of fun listening to different songs and different versions to make my choices, but I also take full responsibility and say the decisions were mine.

“In terms of how I wrote about each song, lots of things came into play. I pursued things like the story of the song’s original composition, different cover versions that could have influenced Elvis, whether he had the song in his record collection (that we know about), and anything that revealed why and how he tackled the material. I also looked at things like different live versions, reactions, and subsequent covers.”

In Publishers Weekly, Dylan Jones, OBE, Editor-in-Chief of GQ magazine and author of Elvis Has Left The Building (2014), said: “In this energetic and insightful look at the songs of Elvis Presley, Duffett… is interested in the big picture of an artist who… ‘could see into the emotional core of each piece of music’ … a fascinating and useful look at the King’s work.”

In reviewing the book, Nigel Patterson from The Elvis Information Network said: “Counting Down Elvis His 100 Finest Songs is one of finest Elvis book releases released this century. Exceptionally well researched and thoughtfully considered, it is stimulating, thought provoking and a joy to read (and sometimes disagree with). Counting Down Elvis should be in every fan’s Elvis book library.”

To buy a copy of the book visit https://rowman.com/isbn/9781442248045/counting-down-elvis-his-100-finest-songs