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2018-08-13 Print

University Academic Discusses What Made Elvis Great

As the anniversary of Elvis’s passing approaches, in an exciting new book a university academic explains why his music deserves critical acclaim.


Manchester, United Kingdom, 13 August – It’s over seven decades since Elvis Presley shook up audiences and claimed his crown as an American icon. Is it possible, though, to explain exactly what makes the best of his musical output so appealing? In Counting Down Elvis: His 100 Finest Songs (Rowman & Littlefield), Dr Mark Duffett goes light years beyond the stereotypes and elegantly assesses the King’s finest songs, ranking them in descending order, from the 100th best to the number one greatest.

The book draws on both biographical and historical information – including some known data about what was in Elvis’s own record collection – to explain the craft and context of Presley’s signature numbers. Thoroughly researched with over 500 endnotes, the result is a fascinating portrait of a recording artist of truly global standing.

Counting Down Elvis has already proven appealing to newcomers and dedicated fans alike. Dylan Jones (of GQ magazine) called the book “Elvis catnip.” Nigel Patterson of the Elvis Information Network, for instance, called it, “one of the finest Elvis book releases… this century.”

Duffett carefully reflects why each deserves its place on the list, supplying fresh insights on Presley’s outstanding body of work. Discussing, for instance, that “impressionistic sound-picture” ‘Heartbreak Hotel,’ he says it comes “from the same world as film noir” and sums the song up as “still a miracle in sound.” Talking about ‘Suspicious Minds,’ Duffett explains Elvis’s voice is “there at the eye of the hurricane, in a way that is assertively masculine, yet audibly sorrowful and cracking with raw emotion.” Finally, Duffett persuasively suggests that ‘If I Can Dream’ “put politics back into gospel and the hope back into the blues” demonstrating Elvis at the height of his powers as “a soul singer.”

Mark Duffett is a Gales-listed author whose academic career has centered on popular music studies and Elvis fandom. This is his first book in the Counting Down series, which was started by Jim Beviglia’s 2013 volume Counting Down Bob Dylan: His 100 Finest Songs. In his academic career, Dr Duffett has written Understanding Fandom (Bloomsbury 2013) and delivered invited conference presentations in Moscow and several other cities. He also organized a conference at the University of Memphis in the summer of 2017 called New Perspectives on Elvis. Dr Duffett keeps a blog at where he has interviewed various music writers and academics including Fred Vermorel.

For more information, please visit the website:

Counting Down Elvis: His 100 Finest Songs
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

Media Contact: Mark Duffett, University of Chester ( or Natalie Mandziuk of Rowman & Littlefield

Available at all online booksellers
ISBN-13: 978-144224804-5

Contact Info
Mark Duffett
Dept of Media,
University of Chester,
Crab Lane, Warrington,
Cheshire, United Kingdom

Phone: 07786864130