When did you first hear Elvis Costello?
Well I'd surely heard him as a child in the seventies but my first adolescent exposure to Elvis was with via a TDK Cr02 90 min. cassette with his 1977 album My Aim is True on side A and his 1985 album, Goodbye Cruel World on side B. Tape makers can be cruel people, I should know. The juxtaposition of the sublime, like "Mystery Dance" and the sub-prime, like "Inch By Inch" made this tape the musical equivalent of trying to sit through a double feature of Raging Bull and Alvin and the Chipmunk: the Squeakquel.
Now music scribes like writing about Elvis Costello almost as much as they like writing about Dylan because they both represent the power of the words to stand almost equal with the music. After all, comments like Ira Robbins, "Elvis Costello is the King Kong of contemporary music looming so large over everything that admirers and detractors alike are compelled to take note of his most trivial actions" probably inspired David Lee Roth to quip something like, "Most music critics prefer Elvis Costello to Van Halen because most music critics look like Elvis Costello". But we've got good cause for our championing. Like Bringing it all Back Home every second of My Aim is True is crammed-to-claustrophobia with cleaver, jagged word-play carried by fiery melodies that make you forget that Clover(a.k.a. Huey Lewis' the News) is playing in the background.
So now it's time to offer some Elvis Costello you may not have heard. With his catalog being constantly re-issued (I've stuck with those ever-so-succinct Rykodisc versions) a few of these tracks might be available but certainly not in this configuration. This bootleg contains much of his work for the BBC between 1977-1983, from My Aim is True to Punch the Clock with nothing from Goodbye Cruel World at all. The set is notable for the first Peel session including four songs from that first album done with his greatest backing band, the Attractions as well as rarities, re-workings of classics and a cover of the English Beat's "Stand Down Margaret". It's time to listen to Elvis again.
MRML Readers: Leave us a comment with your take on the career of Elvis C.
Radio, Radio (BBC Sessions) CD
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Elvis at Amazon