Central Florida Future, January 20, 1978

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Elvis Costello: My Aim Is True


Brian LaPeter

Who is this unusual looking man with the appearance of just being transported out of the '50's? He's Elvis Costello, ex-computer programmer, who has recently joined the ranks of the entertainment world with his debut album, My Aim Is True, on Columbia records.

Costello was thrust into the public eye after his somewhat pathetic appearance on Saturday Night Live several weeks ago. Classified by some as a soft-core part of the New Wave movement, he resembles an overgrown teenager in a high school band trying to live out his fantasies of becoming a big rock star. His album does depict a soft-core nature but falls far from any New Wave creation.

My Aim Is True regresses to the old commercial ploy of squeezing as many songs as possible on one album; some are as short as 1:22. Maybe this explains the under-development of some of the music.

Although Costello's compositions have potential most of them are rather shallow with poor instrumentation. His guitar (what little he does, if it is him) is quite weak and probably accounts for the excessive rhythm in his music.

The possible commercial hit on My Aim Is True, is a cut entitled "Alison." It's got a catchy melody and, with the use of Costello's rough voice, seams to stick in your mind.

"Miracle Man" sounds like a poor imitation of a bland song Grand Funk could have performed during the last days of their downfall.

Costello's arrangements do deviate a little with "Watching the Detectives." The song progresses with a sort of a reggae beat with heavy bass lines and interspersed guitar cords and a little lead that you could expect in a reggae piece. This is perhaps the second best song on the album.

Another short song (1:35) is "Mystery Dance." This is a variation on a typical and worn out rock and roll song.

After seeing Costello on Saturday Night Live I came to the conclusion that if he plans to continue in music he should stick to the studio. Besides his "different" appearance, his live performance lacked excitement or even a decent quality of musicianship, which can be hidden in the studio.

I guess this album proves, as many others do, that almost anyone with somewhat of a knowledge of music can go into a studio and come out with a product to throw on the masses.

Ten or 15 years ago Costello could have been big but his music lacks the originality and sophistication modern audiences require. You're just too late, Elvis.

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Central Florida Future, January 20, 1978


Brian LaPeter reviews My Aim Is True.


Reader Mark Callahan responds in the next issue.

Images

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Clipping.


Costello's music overwhelms critic


Mark Callahan

1978-01-27 Central Florida Future page 08 clipping 01.jpg

Editor:

After reading Brian LaPeter's review of Elvis Costello's new album I decided it was time to write a letter.

LaPeter's insistence that Costello lacks originality and sophistication leads me to believe he listened to the album while doing his homework. Costello's music leads with a strong fast beat which may overwhelm the audience (which obviously happened to LaPeter), but if one listens closely, an intriguing scenario of guitar work envelopes the listener. After hearing "The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes" I rated Elvis C. among one of the best new guitarists.

I can understand LaPeter's stand that Costello is a packaged deal thrown to the masses, but let me quote Simon Frith of the Village Voice (New York), Dec. 26, 1977,

"In what has been a wonderful year for young British musicians, Elvis Costello has set himself up... as our quirkest newcomer. But don't be deceived by the packaging. Costello's record company may have changed his name, exploited his gawkiness and sold him as the kid anyone can kick sand at, but his music is not a joke."

In considering Costello's debut album as "shallow with poor instrumentation." LaPeter denies the fact that Rolling Stone and Village Voice polls put My Aim is True in the top fived albums of 1977. Crawdaddy also gave Elvis their new artist award for 1977.

LaPeter's review typifies the conservative view in Florida towards new artists. May I ask that he listen to the album one more time concentrating on the guitars and lyrics.

I'll think he'll find the cover of the album says it best. Elvis is king.



1978-01-20 Central Florida Future page 09.jpg 1978-01-27 Central Florida Future page 08.jpg
Page scans.

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