Duquesne Duke, March 17, 1989

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Elvis Costello to play at Duquesne

Mike Fiorentino

In 1976 Elvis Costello arrived without appointment at the offices of Stiff Records. Although no one knew of him, he talked his way into a recording contract that very day.

It sounds like some legend or an aspiring star's dream-come-true but that is the real beginning of Costello's career, a musical artist fast becoming a legend in his own time.

Costello became a household name in musical circles in 1977 with a barrage of singles like "Alison," "The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes" and "Watching the Detectives," as well as his debut album My Aim Is True. That album reached number 12 on the charts and received heaps of praise from the nation's rock critics. He is considered the finest artist to ride out from a '75-'77 new-wave British Invasion.

From 1977 it has been one release after another for the "British Elvis" as he and his back-up band The Attractions jumped from tour to studio and back again. It has been said that Costello's middle initial "P" stands for "prolific." It doesn't. But few artists could belt out 12 albums in as many years and still maintain the kind of songwriting quality characteristics of this man's work.

Lyrically adept at painting fascinating imagery, Costello is also a master of contrast — both lyrical and musical. One year he and The Attractions went to Nashville and made a rich country album and then a few months later performed a concert with the 92-piece Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London.

Costello and The Attractions last toured America in 1987 supporting the album Blood and Chocolate on the longest hiatus of his career.

Now he is back, touring the U.S. for his brilliant new release Spike. This tour finds Costello without The Attractions. Just Elvis and his acoustic guitar — a performance he proved capable of here in 1984. With a huge repertoire to draw upon it will be interesting to see what he comes up with for the show.

Long-time friend and producer Nick Lowe will be the opening act on this tour.

Elvis Costello stops in Pittsburgh at Duquesne's Palumbo Center on April 5th. Tickets are still available.


Duquesne Duke, March 17, 1989

Mike Fiorentino profiles EC ahead of his solo concert, Wednesday, April 5, 1989, A. J. Palumbo Center, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh.

Michael Wojcik reviews Spike.


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Elvis Costello

Michael Wojcik

During this past summer, I had listened to a cassette my friend owned: The Best of Spike Jones. This album was a collection of risque songs accentuated by various sound effects and percussion instruments and its comedy was audacious for its pre-rock 'n' roll audience.

Spike Jones, "Our Beloved Entertainer", recently returned as the title of Elvis Costello's latest release. Spike, like Costello's first album, My Aim Is True, is a of potpourri of musical styles and featuring a long list of rock illuminaries: Roger McGuinn (The Byrds), Paul McCartney (you know what band he was in!), Jim Keltner (The Traveling Wilburys), Benmont Tench (The Heartbreakers), and Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel). Costello has presented a brilliant album.

The 13-song set begins with "This Town" which in the footsteps of Jones is humorous. In the first stanza, Costello sings, "the song had a topical verse which I'm afraid he started to sing."

"This Town" is washed with a small stream of keyboards and rings yet clear guitars.

A single and video were created from "Veronica," a song co-written by McCartney: and about Costello's grandmother The beautiful, gentle melody tell the story of a woman's sharp wit and intellect trampled by either illness or a lost love. This is one of the most stirring singles of early 1989.

"God's Comic" resembles two other Costello works, "Almost Blue" and "Watch Your Step" since all three contain jazz chord progressions and inflections. This soliloquy by a dead jester has a greater amount of instruments and is more deftly produced.

Lastly, "Any King's Shilling" joins classical and country music together. Guitars. harp, and violin comment on the obtuse lyrics to form a truly mysterious work.

Spike produced by Costello and blues session man T-Bone Burnett was recorded on modern facilities at studios such as Windmill Lane (where U2 record) and Air (where the Police recorded). Unlike the sparse production of friend Nick ("Cruel to Be Kind") Lowe, Spike is filled with sharp, clean-sounding instruments. Costello has proved his muse has not abandoned him and his lyrical venom is still toxic.

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Page scan.


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