When Elvis Costello first entered the music scene in 1977, it wasn't exactly a dramatic entrance. Unless you read various music magazines or had access to a college radio station, he was nowhere to be found. But after six years, eight albums, and more critical acclaim than anyone (except maybe Springsteen), the-Woody-Allen-of-rock may have finally found his audience. In Punch the Clock, Costello has struck a balance between his early aggressive days and his more recent compassionate ones.
Costello backs up the Attractions this time with a horn quartet and two female singers. Opening with "Let Them All Talk," he sets the musical stage right away by proclaiming "these are the best years of your life." It's a nice sentiment from someone who once wrote "Waiting for the End of the World." It is followed by the irresistible single "Everyday I Write the Book." It is simply one of his best vocal performances, and if this one isn't a hit there just isn't any justice.
Devoted Costello fans may yell "sell-out" with Punch the Clock, but with songs as good as these it is easier to appreciate them for own value rather than pick them apart. Elvis Costello has once again asked our approval and once again he has earned it.