Review of concert at 1978-04-22: Detroit (MI), Royal Oak
Blitz, 1978-05-01
- Mike McDowell

 

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Mike McDowell

When the initial hysteria has faded, the one name guaranteed to have the most lasting impact on the rock and roll developments of the 1970s will no doubt be Elvis Costello. Never since the creative musical boom of 1964-1968 has there been an artist with such incredible perception of rock and roll sensibility capable of applying a common sense approach to lyrics while simultaneously provoking the intellect. Musically, Elvis Costello blends the well-executed economics of Buddy Holly with the lyrical high plane of logistics typified by Michael Nesmith. The result: solid rock and roll music that proves that intellectual stimulation and fun can be synonymous.

But as can be expected, commercial acclaim for one so gifted is rare amongst the tastes of a public that has been force-fed a steady diet of such musically irrelevant studio puppets as the Bee Gees, Donner Summer and Samantha Sang. Is there room at the top for relevance? Alan Freed proved that there was in the early 1950s by introducing the likes of the Moonglows, the Five Satins and Chuck Berry to an unsuspect ing public weaned on Kitty Kallen and Jimmy Boyd. And strictly via enlightenment from the print media (since airplay for Costello's recordings is next to nonexistent), the Detroit area proved themselves more than ready to accept Elvis Costello as the long awaited saving grace of rock and roll music.

In the course of two sell-out performances in the Detroit area the night of April 22, the apprehensive Costello warmed to a hero's welcome and delivered one of the most intense, driving, exuberant performances of rock and roll music since Chuck Berry's landmark Eastern Michigan University concert in the Fall of 1932 or the Monkees' historical appearance at the Olympia Stadium in July, 1967. As a city whose very name is oftimes associated with rock and roll, Detroit embraced the new-found messiah with an enthusiasm characteristic of the city's legendary musical reputation. Both sets consisted entirely of material from Elvis' two albums, "My Aim Is True" and the recently released "This Year's Model". The Attractions (Bruce, Steve and Pete) showed a marked improvement over the last several months, delivering a tasty Merseybeat feel on the Dave Clark Five-ish "You Belong To Me" and the Beatle-like bounce of "Lip Service". The highly acclaimed "Mystery Dance", "Red Shoes" and incurably addictive reggae feel of "Watching The Detectives" earned Costello a  nine minute standing ovation, assuring all present that an exciting musical event of immense proportions was on the verge of exploding with wide-reaching hysteria.

Nonetheless, in their traditional role as an intellectual vacuum, the gutless airwaves of the radio may find themselves deserted by the public they try so hard to manipulate, simply by virtue of their reluctance to accept artistic integrity as an integral element of rock and roll music. The acid-tongued poigniant philosophy of Costello sums it up: "We intended to play Detroit once before, but were stopped by one thing -- the radio. The radio doesn't know we exist, and vice versa". Thus the prototype for "Radio, Radio", Costello's hard-hitting slam against the unfaithful child of rock and roll, executed with the ironic delivery characteristic of the sorely missed cruisin' music.

After the show, the tired but content Costello seemed to take his new-found stardom in stride, in keeping with his pronounced disdain for the hero ethic. As such, Costello's reaction upon learning of his selection as his magazine's favorite new male vocalist of 1977 was an indifferent "Terrific!". Costello's hastily added  "I'm glad you enjoyed the show" leads one to believe that his aim is true not for his sake, but for the sake of rock and roll. It's about time.

 

***** COSTELLO DlSCOGRAPHY *****

MY AIM IS TRUE 8-77
Columbia JC 35331; Stiff SEEZ3
Welcome To The Working Week; Miracle Man; No Dancing; Blame It On Cain; Alison; Sneaky Feelings; Watching The Detectives (US Only); (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes; Less Than Zero; Mystery Dance; Pay It Back; I'm Not Angry; Waiting For The End Of The World

THIS YEAR'S MODEL 3-78
Columbia JC 35331; Radar
No Action; This Year's Girl; The Beat; Pump It Up; Little Triggers; You Belong To Me; Hand In Hand; Lip Service; (I Don't. Want To Go Back To) Chelsea (UK Only); Living In Paradise:, Radio, Radio (US Only); Lipstick Vogue; Night Rally (UK Only)

ELVIS COSTELLO 3-78
Amazing Kornyfone TAKRL 928
Welcome To The Working Week; (The Angels Wanna Wear My), Red Shoes; Waiting For The End, Of The World; No Action; Less Than Zero; The Beat; That's What It's All About; Blame It On Cain; Little Triggers; Radio, Radio (Abridged Version) LIVE BOOTLEG

Also appears on:
A BUNCH OF STIFFS (Stiff SEEZ-2): Less Than Zero
HITS GREATEST STIFFS (Stiff FIST-I): Radio Sweetheart
LIVE STIFFS (Stiff ): I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself; Miracle Man

45s USA UK
5-77 Less Than Zero/Radio Sweetheart NR Stiff BUY-11
7-77 Alison/Welcome To The Working Week NR Stiff BUY-14
9-77 Red Shoes/Mystery Dance NR Stiff BUY-15
10-77 Alison/Miracle Man (Live) Columbia 3-10641 NR
11-77 Watching The Detectives/Blame It On Caine; Mystery Dance (Live) Columbia 3-10696 Stiff BUY-20
3-78 (I Don't Want To Go) Back To Chelsea/You Belong To Me NR Radar ADA 3
3-78 Stranger In The House/Neat Neat Neat NR Radar Bonus 45
3-78 Watching The Detectives/Alison Columbia 3-10705 NR
4-78 PumpIt Up NR Radar