In 1976, Elvis Costello worked as a computer operator struggling to support a wife and child. The same year, he began recording as a solo musician. The sharp and searing “My Aim is True” served as Costello’s vehement debut. The album was recorded on a confining budget during a mere 24 hours of studio time.
Intense and fervent, the strength of the record surged from its rushed, raw and stunning feel. Costello shared bitterness and bite with punks, and the mastery of melody with those at the forefront of new-wave. The collision of genres combined with an intelligence displayed in clever clever lyrics placed Costello in a unique, accessible and essential position in music.
The summer of ’77 saw the release of “My Aim is True.” Success followed less than a month after its delivery. The achievement shocked the artist – and the album shocked the music community.
After the triumph of his debut, Costello moved from his parent company, Stiff Records, to a new and prosperous home at Columbia Records. His first record for Columbia was 1978’s “This Year’s Model.”
With “This Year’s Model,” the bespectacled god offered his second collection of spitting tunes from a mangled and spited heart. Adequately funded, Costello was able to record a more polished and professional follow-up to his coarse (yet extremely powerful) debut.
For his second album, Costello was able to spend more time in the studio. “This Year’s Model” marked Costello’s first collaboration with his amazing backing band, the Attractions. Together, Costello and the Attractions achieved an even edgier sound, each member contributing greatly to the album’s cutting style.
The product of their collaboration was the lurid “This Year’s Model,” an album so rich in ferocity that the listener is left feeling that the hiss and crackle of the turntable isn’t the needle, but Costello’s simmering saliva.
Eric Marth is a senior at Stafford High School