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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Elvis (Costello) is Everywhere!

Let me give you my personal take on Elvis Costello......I think his first three albums were epic, all 5 star
classics period. Now, here is where myself and A LOT of people will part ways on this, I really never liked a damn thing he did after "Armed Forces"....I don't know why, it, to me, is similar to how I felt about several other early 1980's acts.....The Pretenders, Joe Jackson, The Boomtown Rats.....who just took a direction that, for whatever reason, did not get it done for me......Elvis has released a mountain of stuff since, and I know a lot of people out there LOVE it......just not for me.

However, thanks to a sort-of collaboration between myself and John N, I THINK that I have most of his stuff here, many in deluxe editions with bonus tracks......that, and the fact that I personally have at least 20 boots from (what I consider) his golden era (ie first three albums) means that I can put up a fairly comprehensive Costello series......

Read this carefully.....I AM going to post all of them, NOT IN CONSECUTIVE POSTS,, for example, if you are a big fan of say, the album "King of America", I will get to it in time, it's just that I have the attention span of a five year old and will get awfully bored if I try to do them consecutively....this will likely take 5-6 posts, and they will likely come weekly, OK? And I'm not going to diss the guy's post "Armed Forces" stuff....also won't have a lot of commentary on them, but I DO want to put the material out there. And just wait until I get to the bootlegs, they are great-to-spectacular.

For today, allow me to present the first three classic albums, all in deluxe editions with fantastic extra material......first was "My Aim Is True", which was done with the backing band Clover and not the incredible Attractions, but still when it was first released, it was like a wakeup call......the musical world was to now be the playground of Elvis, and of the Pistols, the I said before I LOVE all of the first three albums, of them I'd call this the "weakest", however, I would still bestow the coveted five star rating on it. Simply remarkable songs-"Welcome To the Working Week" ("I know it don't thrill ya, I hope it don't kill ya"), the beautiful single "Allison", "Red Shoes" ("I said 'I'm so happy I could die', she said 'drop dead' then left with another guy"), the tour de force "Watching The Detectives". No home should be without one, and with a ful disc of bonus material? Run don't walk......what could be better?

Easy answer: "This Years' Model" (always wondered if The Cars were furious that he swiped such an
obvious title for their album, out about the same time)......simply stated, this is one of mt 20 favorite albums of all. Brilliant from the whispered intro of "No Action" to the final rave up of "Radio Radio" ("I want to bite the hand that feeds me") it's all 100% perfect. The new band, the absolutely amazing Attractions, crank out a unique and glorious piece of work, this would rate at least FOUR stars if there were no lyrics or vocals at's that good. Running down the whole thing would be tantamount to a track listing, DAMN...."The Beat", "This Years Girl" ("Those disco synthesizers, those daily tranquilizers"), "Lip Service". Incredible album, also with a discs worth of bonus tracks.

"Armed Forces" is nearly as good. A conceptual affair with lots of Nazi imagery, ("But you'll never get to make a lampshade out of me" from "Goon Squad", "Two Little Hitlers", "Are you ready for the final solution" from "Chemistry Class") it works brilliantly and sounds every bit as good today as it did at the time of release...."Oliver's Army" may be my favorite Costello tune, unless you ask me again in an hour, and I may give you a different answer. And, yep, this is a deluxe bonus edition as well.

These three albums are as good a trio as anyone ever has released in such a short time don't jump on me for this, but after "Armed Forces" he lost me.....don't know why, it just didn't work for me anymore....we'll discuss the subsequent albums at the time of posting, but please don't expect anywhere near the level of enthusiasm from me......and it's NOT that I think they are (necessarily) bad albums, it's just that it would be impossible to live up to this level of quality forever.

Thanks to John N for providing this portion of this multi-part post, and, remember, we'll maybe do one of these a week until we are all-Costello'd out.....and again, just WAIT until you hear the fab bootlegs that I will save for last. Cruel huh?

NOTE: The version of "My Aim Is True" presented here is a 2 disc set, however both discs are contained in one link

MY AIM IS TRUE DISC 1-01 Welcome to the Working Week/02 Miracle Man/03 No Dancing/04 Blame it on Cain/05 Allison/06 Sneaky Feelings/07 (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes/08 Less Than Zero/09 Mystery Dance/10 Pay It Back/11 I'm Not Angry/12 Waiting For the End of the World/13 Watching the Detectives

MY AIM IS TRUE DISC 2-01 No Action (Early Version)/02 Living In paradise (Early Version)/03 Radio
Sweetheart/04 Stranger in the House/05 I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself (live)/06 Less Than Zero (Live at the El Mocambo)/07 Imagination (Is a Powerful Deceiver)/08 Mystery Dance (demo)/09 Cheap Reward (demo)/10 Jump Up (demo)/11 Wave a White Flag (demo)/12 Blame It on Cain (demo)/13 Poison Moon (demo)

THIS YEARS MODEL- 01 No Action/02 This Year's Girl/03 The Beat/04 Pump It Up/05 Little Triggers/06 You Belong to Me/07 Hand In Hand/08 (I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea/09 Lip Service/10 Living In Paradise/11 Lipstick Vogue/12 Night Rally/13 Radio, Radio/14 Big Tears/15 Crawling to the USA/16 Running Out of Angels (demo)/17 Green Shirt (demo)/18 Big Boys (demo)

ARMED FORCES-01 Accidents Will Happen/02 Senior Service/03 Oliver's Army/04 Big Boys/05 Green Shirt/06 Party Girl/07 Goon Squad/08 Busy Bodies/09 Sunday's Best/10 Moods For Moderns/11 Chemistry Class/12 Two Little Hitlers/13 (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding/14 My Funny Valentine/15 Tiny Steps/16 Clean Money/17 Talking in the Dark/18 Wednesday Week/19 Accidents Will Happen (Live at Hollywood High)/20 Alison (Live at Hollywood High)/21 Watching the Detectives (Live at Hollywood High)

We'll resume with "Get Happy", also a deluxe edition sometime next week......meantime, if' you've heard only the originals, the bonus material is nearly as good, in particular the live "I Don't Want to Go to Chelsea" from "This Year's Model".


  1. AIM



  2. Hotcha! Totally thrilled to find these three in deluxe versions - I had a good friend in college that was just as fascinated with This Year's Model as me - must have listened to that thing every other day for a year.
    Have to note it's a little spooky to read your comments on the post Armed Forces stuff - I too found my interest deteriorate significantly from that point. I think it had to do with my perception of Elvis trying to legitimize himself as an artiste. Too, too many times he decided to not push for honesty lyrically and settled for being clever.

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  4. I would have to go with This Year's Model and Get Happy as my fave Elvis C discs. Even though roughly half of Get Happy is just ok, the other half is astounding (the soul covers, Human Touch, Riot Act in particular). Thank you Big Man for sharing the deluxe editions!

  5. Always a treat to re-discover Elvis!

    Though my cut-off point was Imperial Bedroom (brilliant stuff), it seems like a lot of original Costello fans got off the boat at some point in his baffling, prolific career.

  6. Scott, it's hard to disagree with you (other than that I think Get Happy is as good as the first three). After that, EC's records were disappointing. I like "King of America", and "Imperial Bedroom" has one of my all-time favorite EC songs, "Beyond Belief".

  7. "Get Happy!!" is my personal favorite, but I'll agree it's deeply flawed and the first three are the best. I appreciate the myriad of stuff you've posted here.

    That said, I often wonder if what attracted me (and some rock critics) to this music is that we were the products of moralistic parochial schools and Costello allowed us an avenue to keep being moralistic but without the shackles of formal religion.

    I now listen to a lot of his lyrics and hear echoes of the nuns who used to teach me in some of them: "Those disco synthesizers! Those body building prizes! Those are sins!! It's the sin of lust, children! Bad!!!!"

    That's an exaggeration, of course, but I'm definitely making the connection for a reason. The preacher-rocker comparison in the Who's "Success Story" might have had a deeper meaning that I thought when I first heard it, in other words.

  8. You guys are nuts! Just because you have ADHD and are unable to focus doesn't, mean EC stopped making some of the best modern music around.

  9. You guys are nuts! Just because you have ADHD and are unable to focus doesn't, mean EC stopped making some of the best modern music around.