If someone mentions the name Elvis to you these days, do you automatically assume they are referring to Presley? Well, go to the back of the class then, because the man in question today is one Elvis Costello, a strange young Londoner who looks like a cross between Buddy Holly and Woody Allen.
Totally unknown a year ago, the new Elvis emerged in a few months to become probably the biggest solo sensation in the British music business in 1977 and has received enormous critical acclaim from all quarters, from the Melody Maker ("The hottest new talent since the bloody Atom bomb") to the Washington Post ("Elvis Costello is a lot more important than the Rolling Stones").
You'll soon be able to judge for yourself: the man will be in Dublin next week for a concert at the Stella Cinema in Rathmines on Thursday, the same venue which welcomed back the Boomtown Rats in December. The occasion should be as equally as eventful as the Rats' return.
Costello, a former computer operator in Hounslow, a London suburb, claims to be 22, but some say he's more like 33. He refuses to discuss his past in any detail and also refuses to disclose his real first name. And he's not exactly modest.
"I don't think the sudden interest in me is unjustified," he has said. "I think my album (My Aim is True) is a good record so there's every reason people should want to know about it." Another quote: "The singles market has been dull and boring for a long time. I'm hoping to change things."
That he has certainly done and things are no longer boring when Elvis C is around. In the space of a few months he was arrested outside London's Hilton Hotel for busking, caused a near riot when police had to dispel a 1,700-strong crowd who couldn't get in to see him perform in a London pub, he has completed a very successful first American tour and sold considerable quantities of his records.
He looks the complete anti-hero: a thin, weedy looking guy in horn-rimmed glasses with a taste for drainpipe suits. But his talent is in his songs and he's already written over 400.
Many are sinister with death and destruction just around the corner. Most of his inspiration, he says, comes from the feeling that Britain exists at present in the atmosphere of a permanent Sunday afternoon.
"I only want to sing about things that are a matter of life and death, not in a super-melodrama way, but from the point of view everything is so Sunday, so mediocre in Britain, that it is in itself a matter of life and death," he says.
"It's very easy to pin me down as the frustrated computer operator sitting there seething in his office not being able to get out. That's a very romantic image but it wasn't really like that. It was a job that I got paid for which allowed me time to write and wasn't particularly unpleasant," he comments.
Costello's debut album My Aim is True was released last August and reached No. 11 in the British charts. He's had five singles released. The first four were "Alison," "Less Than Zero," "Red Shoes" and "Watching the Detectives" which went to No. 9 in England.
The latest single, just released, is called "(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea" and tears apart the "swinging London" of the 60s. His second album This Year's Model is due for release next week.