Central Connecticut State University Inferno, February 16, 1978

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My Aim Is True

Elvis Costello

Bill Burke

Most enigmatic is Elvis Costello, a tortured looking thick spectacled former computer programmer who grabbed his recording contract using real guerrilla tactics. He began singing in the hotel where CBS London execs were holding a meeting. He was (almost) simultaneously arrested and then signed to the label. Compared to his harder (no macho-ism intended) colleagues, his sound is softer (even a few ballads in evidence here, compared with the Pistols' industrial strength deciball-busters) and his act more subdued. But therein is the irony. My Aim is True (Columbia 35037) is consistently surprising. "Less Than Zero," a condemnation of Oswald Mosley's (British fascist brownshirt leader) TV appearance has an almost "mellow" melodic line riding on the rugged anti-fascist lyric. His most angry song:

"I know what you're doin'
I know where you've been
I know where but I don't care
'Cause there's no such thing
As an original sin"

is entitled "I'm Not Angry," is perhaps the ultimate revenge tune. Elvis' most famous tune to American audiences is "Watching the Detectives." Replete with early sixties Ventures' surf guitar, it is about a guy who's trying to get the attention of a girl absorbed in TV cops. Cynical and great. Other titles include "Blame It On Cain" and "Welcome to the Working Week" about which I will not discourse. This LP has a few surprises and I'm not all that much of a Spoiler. One interesting sidelight is the cover art consisting of an Elvis photo in the center with a checkerboard design. There are small letters embedded in the dark-colored checkers. They spell out on close inspection "ELVIS IS KING" (thanks to my observant wife Bonnie). How irreverent. In a market totally with a sense of decency the music industry, this subliminal message aptly reflects the side show decadence such as a cutthroat business richly deserves. Nice touch, Elvis. "The next album," he said in a recent interview, "will be crueler." If his aim is indeed true he'll title it "Don't be cruel." You figure it out.


Inferno, February 16, 1978

Bill Burke reviews My Aim Is True.


1978-02-16 Central Connecticut State University Inferno page 13.jpg
Page scan.


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