Elvis Costello: Punch The Clock (RCA)

Escapism and reality. Where nice David Bowie came out of his corner bobbing and weaving in red boots, nasty Elvis Costello slipped his seconds and undercut the opposition before their guard was even up. Who expected Elyis to be such a southpaw? For a start, the TKO horns (ex-Dexy's and Bureau) and Afrodiziac girl backing deliver the kind of sucker punch that elevate all the songs to another dimension. The total effect of "Punch The Clock", its contrasts of jollity ("The Invisible Man") and chilling bile (“Pills And Soap”, “Charm School”) make you wonder if you ever understood Costello the first time around. There isn’t time to unravel the labyrithine web of lyrical intrigue the man spins here. Instead, marvel at the music; a maze of perfect pop, orchestrated lunacy and a mess of rhythm and blues. Any record that opens up the charts and makes them think must be good. Congratulations to RCA for harbouring both Elvises under one roof at last. This ain’t “Kid Galahad” but it will still knock you out.