British GQ, April 2002

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... Bibliography ...

British GQ

UK & Ireland magazines


My top ten

Elvis Costello

His aim is true on watches, U2 and sexy beasts

1. Sam Phillips' Fan Dance (2001)
This record is very beautiful and intimate. It's on a human scale, which a lot of records aren't these days.

2. Ghost World (2001)
This film tells the story of two oddball teenage girls who play a prank on a lonely record collecting guy played by Steve Buscemi. They set him up for a blind date through a lonely hearts column. The two girls — Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson — are great. I think Johansson — who has an amazing voice — could really become something if she was given the right role.

3. Action
A TV programme that's a satire of a desperate film producer, shown on HBO late at night: it couldn't be broadcast earlier as the language is so bad. It's like the first funny 20 minutes of Robert Altman's The Player, but more absurd.

4. My watch
I got it in New York. It's a Franck Muller — but it doesn't have a model name that I can see. They seem to be numbered, although I'm sure that it's not unique.

5. The Temptations' Psychedelic Shack / All Directions (1970)
This is a collection of Motown from when The Temptations went through their psychedelic stage. It's full of confusion. When you hear all the tracks back-to-back... wow. It's one of those records you forget about, but when you dig it out and play it again, it's fantastic.

6. Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)
She looks such a doll in it. It's so funny that she's supposed to be overweight and she actually looks fantastic. That proves how mad Hollywood really is.

7. Steve Nieve's Mumu (2001)
It's a great collection of songs. Steve found a vocal technique that suits the humour, emotion and this intimate style of writing. They sound like French songs that just happen to be English, if that makes any sense. I was his choice of deputy when (the guitarist) Marc Ribot couldn't play. It was my first gig as an instrumentalist since 1972, when I played guitar for my dad in a club in Blackpool. "Blackpool to Paris", that pretty much says it all.

8. U2's Elevation tour (2001)
The band's main objective is not to get people to "put their hands in the air like they just don't care." Plus U2 have such a wealth of records they can put on a really exciting rock 'n' roll show, but one that doesn't take any easy routes at the same time. The only criticism you could have — and it's a happy criticism — is that, live, they easily surpass the versions on record, and do it every time.

9. My friend's book
I don't read that much, but I'm reading a book by a friend of mine. Robert Chalmers, called 'Who's Who in Hell'. It's about a man who works as a obituarist and the story focuses on the nature of his job and how people perceive it. But it's also about a number of things. It's so refreshing to read an original book; some books are just a waste of trees. There are enough great works of literature out there without having to worry about some new book that's no good

10. Sexy Beast (2000)
I thought Ray Winston was fantastic; all that reluctance and unwillingness in his eyes. He should get more credit for the fact that he did so little because it gave Ben Kingsley's ranting character much more room. And Kingsley: the scene where his character goes completely mad and he loses the power of language. That's a great bit of writing.


British GQ, April 2002

Elvis Costello shares his current Top Ten.


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