What does it sound like?:
In the pre Brexit world I took advantage of Amazon France’s ridickerous vinyl pricing sale to grab a copy of last years vinyl repress of Elvis’ 1980 odds n sods U.S. compilation for just 8 euro. It was the equivalent of the ’10 Bloody Mary’s & 10 How’s Your Fathers’ that the UK got with B-sides, out-takes etc but also a couple of tracks ‘Sundays Best’, ‘Chelsea’ & ‘Night Rally’ that were left off albums 2&3 as Columbia thought they were “too English”. How quaint the past can appear to be.
And listening to the orphans from those first 2½ years it’s a clear signpost that EC was a cut above his punk n new wave brethren in the scope and style of the music that he was creating with The Attractions. Whether it be the early flush of country leanings with his cover of ‘Stranger In The House’ or strumalong ‘Radio Sweetheart’, the plastic soul cover of ‘Getting Mighty Crowded’ or the waltzing racist baiting ‘Sundays Best’ that when performed on his 2016 tour sounded ripped from the headlines as it did in the late 70’s.
‘Big Tears’ is an absolute diamond of a song that ended up on the B-side of ‘Pump It Up’ with a catchy little guitar figure from Mick Jones (the Clash one) and a spittle heavy vocal from Elvis with a nihilistic sneer ‘Everybody is busy with the regular routine the sniper just takes his aim Everybody is just window shopping no one is amazed Even if he hit you, you’d still think it was a graze’ – the avenging nerd in full effect.
There are songs he gave away ‘ Girls Talk’ and songs he couldn’t give away ‘Just A Memory’ clearly written with Dusty Springfield in mind, Steve Nieve giving it the full Burt Bacharach. Dusty did take the hint and taped it for her White Heat album which sold about 5 copies in Botswana. The curse of Costello claims another victim. Basically thou it’s an embarrassment of riches – Tiny Steps, Black & White World, here in demo form is brittle and precise, little curios like ‘Hoover Factory’ and ‘Talking In The Dark’ most artists would put as bankers on their albums. Its testament to his prolific output and scattergun approach at this point in his career that such things got lost between the cracks between the albums
What does it all *mean*?
A handy alternate history to the early years of the beloved entertainer. Before Nashville and being too fancy fancy for the narrow-minded “rock” fan. Worth 8 euro of yer argent which probably can't buy you a decent pack of Gauloises these days
Goes well with…
An arm, a leg, a severed head.
Might suit people who like…
Elvis’ albums but never investigated the sweet hidden gooey goodness hidden in the singles rack.