Like most people, the first time I ever heard of Elvis Costello was when he made his guest appearance on Saturday Night in December. And like most people, I asked myself, who is Elvis Costello, anyway? Is he a joke, or what? But then, what could I expect from someone who looks like he lives in a computer facility? In fact, he was a computer programmer before he cut My Aim is True. And he looks and dresses as bizarre as his music sounds.
Elvis Costello (not his real name) has evolved his style from many of the rockers of the mid-fifties, among them Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley. He hasn't copied any one in particular — his style is a conglomeration of all of theirs, yet is uniquely his own. He doesn't sing well at all, and his guitar playing is mediocre at best. He gives you the impression that you could do better if you only half-tried.
His strength lies in his songwriting abilities, particularly his lyrics. They are potent and biting, and very often depressing, yet unlike most songs today, actually say something. The two most-listenable cuts from My Aim is True have the most nonsensical lyrics of any on the album. With "Alison" and "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes," Elvis Costello has put together his most attractive musical packages.
Elvis Costello is the type of artist whose record becomes a hit more because it is a novelty than anything else, then slides into oblivion. I hope this isn't the case. He hasn't yet shown his full potential, either as a songwriter or as a performer, and I'd like to hear more of what he has to offer.