Thursday, January 7, 2010

Elvis Costello: The Gangster is Back

While I have never forgiven Goodbye Cruel World (even E.C. disdains it), it's far from my Costello cut-off. In fact right up till the end of the eighties and Spike, Costello burned a bright flame. However, the erratic material and showier singing of the nineties alongside the side-lining of the Attractions and that beard kinda killed it for me. Sure I dutifully listened to the Brutal Youth (even tried wrapping my head around The Juliet Letters) and When I was Cruel et al but little of it hit on a gut level. I'm sure in my next Costello phase (I've had about four), I'll be eating my words and buying some over-stuffed Kojak Variety re-issue.

So if you cut Elvis off somewhere before Almost Blue (I love old country but Elvis sings his own material best) you miss out a lot. To help you catch up (or just remind you), here's a concert from the Punch the Clock tour. With the TKO Horns and more in tow, it's a chance to hear the first six years of Elvis' career in a different, slightly cracked, light.

MRML Readers keep leaving us your Elvis-related comments. Here's some more samples:

I saw Elvis at Bogart's in Cincinnati Ohio in 1978. Still have the ticket stub. The Show was $2.94 + 0.06 tax. It was an awesome show. During one point in the show, Elvis walked through the audience from table-top to table-top while continuing to play. I saw him again in 1979 in Dayton Ohio at the Victoria Theatre for the Armed Funk tour. Again, an awesome show. By that time, the ticket price had increased to an astounding $7.00.

Saw Elvis many times. Every show was outstanding, his gigs use to go on and on and on. 2hrs, 3 hrs even. me and my mate john always positioned ourselves at the front. Many times came out soaked to the skin with sweat and often losing items of clothing. Managed to get backstage at one gig at De Montfort Hall when he was supported by The Pogues, I thought I could drink in those days but Jeez I was ill for days after. Along with The Jam gigs I attended at the time I have never seen such power and intensity. Fucking brilliant!!!!

(Sir Charlie Palmer)

The Gangster is Back CD

Support the man!
Elvis at Amazon


  1. Hey Jeffen, the Elvis Costello posts reminds of a great gig with Squeeze and Elvis Costello around 1981.It also got me thinking about the albums I played the most in that late 1970s/early 1970s era.I will list the albums I played the 'most' at the time.A few I had to buy second copies.Here goes.

    1.Chris Spedding 'Hurt'(1977)
    2.Stray Cats 'Stray Cats'(1981)
    3.Squeeze 'Cool For Cats'(1979)
    4.John Martyn 'Grace And Danger'(1980)
    5.Magazine 'Real Life'(1978)
    6.Ultravox! 'Ultravox!'(1977)
    7.The Jam 'Sound Effects'(1980)
    8.The Specials 'The Specials'(1979)
    9.Pete Shelley 'Homosapien'(1981)
    10.Madness 'One Step Beyond'(1979)

    Lots of other albums were also in heavy rotation.Stuff by Elvis Costello,The Stranglers,Buzzcocks etc etc

  2. Correction '..late 1970s/early 1980s era.'

  3. I saw Elvis Costello when he did the Punch the clock tour in 1983. He played in Lund, Sweden. I think it was in a venue called Olympen, but it might have been another venue called Pub Sparta, which was close by. Both places used to have concerts with big, international acts. In any case, I remember it as a great concert, and I especially remember wondering where the song "Backstabbers" came from. I didn't recognize it from any of his albums and I hadn't yet discovered 70's Philly soul at the time. Anyway, thanks for posting these Costello rarities!

  4. My memory is so bad I can't remember if I met Elvis Costello around 1982-3 backstage at his own concert or at one for someone else. I do remember thinking how tall and wide he was, which made me wonder if the record label manipulated pictures to make him look skinny. He might have been skinny in his earliest days, but he definitely was taller and bigger all around than I thought he would be.


  5. Jumpstart
    Sound like na amazing show. It's interesting you mention Philly Soul" because it reminds you of just how insanely wide E.C.'s tastes are. (Which does work to his detriment sometimes.)

    You know I was thinking about that discrepancy (I mean how skinny he was and how thick he became) I suppose having to go from svelte to rotund came with the name!


Thanks for clicking the COMMENTS link.
Now that you're here,I should mentions that
without reader feedback blogs slowly wither and die