Friday, January 8, 2010

Elvis Costelllo & Flip City: Demos (1975)

Before the Impostors, the Attractions and even Clover, Elvis Costello had another, more mysterious backing band named Flip City. Back in the mid-seventies, Flip City would have been labeled pub rock, a nebulous term for a non-grandiose country-r&b-rockabilly amalgam which later birthed punk rock. Unlike Joe Strummer's pub rock band, the 101'ers, Flip City, featuring Mich Kent (bass), Malcolm Dennis or Ian Powling (drums), Steve Hazelhurst (guitar), Dickie Faulkner (percussion) and one Declan P. MacManus (guitar/vocals), don't get a whole lot of play in the official narrative. On the Rykodisc re-issues their one contribution is referred to as a "pre-professional recording" (quotation marks theirs). Costello himself further labels his pre-professional work as "blatant imitations" and, "steps in my apprenticeship".

However, for Costello watchers of almost all types, these variations of themes, styles and songs that he would pursue his entire career are endlessly fascinating. Highlights include the proto-"Allison", "Imagination is a Powerful Deceiver" the rough draft of "Radio, Radio", called "Radio Soul", and the early version of "Living in Paradise" which proves how much of Elvis' rapid-fire wit was in place by this time. Finally, we get Elvis and the boys grappling with Bob Dylan's magnificent "Knockin' on Heaven's Door". The result is an enjoyable, if imperfect, approximation of what would have happened if the Band (sans Dylan) had taken a crack at the song. If you're a fan at all, don't miss out.

Flip City Demos CD

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  1. Hey Son !
    tout d'abord un grand bravo à toi pour les posts que tu proposes, toujours très classe !
    je me permets de te donner le lien d'un groupe meconnu des années 90. Un groupe français produit par Lucas Trouble (Vietnam veterans) pour le label Nova Express, j'espère que tu apprécieras.
    C'est leur 2nd album, je sais qu'il existe un premier LP ainsi qu'un 45 tours, mais ils sont jusqu'ici, introuvables...!
    la chasse est donc ouverte. J'ai ajouté à l'archive les covers.
    Bien à toi
    bonne année

  2. Thanks for this! Fascinating. I always thought he just kinda self-invented himself and then arrived fully formed.

  3. this is brilliant! Thank you so much for these fine bits of history

  4. Bob

    Glad this worked out for you.

    Yeah Elvis seems a little ashamed of these roots - shame.

    Glad to make history rock!

  5. A nice, short summary of the Flip City years. I hope you don't mind, I've nicked your first paragraph to use on the site for their band description of Flip City.

  6. No shame to be had here. I love these. Whoa, Radio Soul, "Radio Radio, Beta Version"? Amazing. Not as polished, but just as good, imho. A new favorite for me. And Knocking on Heaven's Door? Well, I usually prefer Elvis's version of everything. Love love love. Just something in it, can't get enough of. Thanks for posting this awesomeness!


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