Friday, May 19, 2006

FDF Volume 1 Issue 12: Elvis Costello - My Aim is True

Album - My Aim is True
Artist - Elvis Costello
Key Players - Elvis Costello - guitar/vocals.
Produced by - Nick Lowe
Released - 1977

Overview: This album was reportedly recorded in 24hrs while Elvis was "out sick" from his daytime computer job. Due to contract issues the original backing band, Clover, were not listed. Clover was an American country rock band and would later morph in to Huey Lewis and the News. John McFee who was credited on the record as the guitar player played with the Doobie Brothers as well. In 13 very short tracks Elvis Costello (born Declan McManus) would forever change, if not define "new wave". You will find this cd listed on virtually every "best of" cd list, either best debuts of all time, or finest records of all time. In 2003 VH1 named this record the 80th greatest album of all time.

FDF Comments (aka The Songs) - Where does one even begin? Of the 13 there are at least 6 songs that even your mom probably knows. This is a rare occasion where a studio album is pretty much a "best of" collection. The nice part about the Rhino re-issues is that even cleaned up they still seem to have some "tape hiss". Opening with Welcome To the Working Week in 1:23 you are given the ground work for this record. Elvis wastes no time in getting in and out of the songs. The longest song on the album is 3:45 (Watching the Detectives). Arguably the best song on the record is "Alison". If its not the best its hands down a top 5 song from Elvis. When I was researching this record I found that Watching the Detectives was not even on the original UK release of the album. It was issued in October of 1977.

Where is he now - Elvis is still making records to this day. Some argue he has not found a good direction with often quiet records (see "north") or his work with Burt Bacharach and symphony orchestras. The largest know backing band he had was the Attractions. Elvis Costello AND the Attractions were inducted in to the Rock and Roll Hall of fame in 2003. Elvis tours solo these days or with a new backing band called the Imposters.

FDF Personal Comments - Seeing Elvis live can be a treat, or very very boring. He has a massive catalog of songs to pull from. With that being said if you are a "casual" fan (as I am..maybe a scant more than casual) some of the deep tracks live can be tedious. Its like if you go to see the Rolling Stones you want to hear "Satisfaction". First time was touring for the Spike record (Veronica is on this) at Great Woods on 6-21-91. Elvis was fat and bloated but the show was good. The about to implode Replacements opened that show. The next was 8-14-96 at Harborlights in Boston. Elvis was with the Attractions on this tour and the audience was seated for most, but during the up tempo ones they'd rise up. What stands out the most on this show is the number of encores he did. I think we walked out to our car when he came back out for his fourth. The last time was 7-13-03 at Lupos Heartbreak Hotel in Providence. It was marketed as a big deal since Elvis was "back in a club" but a few years earlier her had played the Paradise in Boston. He did 2 shows this night 7 and 10pm. I went to the 10pm and Elvis just seemed to play and play and play. He must have played 35 songs. (actually it was only 24) Still it was hit or miss, the deep dark catalog stuff had a few people going "wow" but when he'd rip stuff like in the 3rd encore (notice a trend) of Alison->Tell Me Right Now->Radio Radio->Whats' So Funny bout Peace Love and Understanding. I need to go back and listen to that show again.

FDF Overall take - Many people will have a best of Elvis in their collection, but if you need a studio release this one or Armed Forces are the way to go. As noted with the myriad of Elvis Costello best of collections its easy to just hear the best ofs but when a record gives you one after the other that is "not" a best of, that is really something. You can't go wrong with this, you really can't.


At 12:29 PM, Blogger Road to the Isles said...

love this! And I will always remember those nights that AW and I called you during your radio days to request "Alison"!

At 11:31 AM, Blogger JamieSmitten said...

I listen to this at least once a month. I bought the Rhino reissue (replacing a cassette!) and it really holds up. But I'm a sucker for those British musicians and their word play.


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