Melody Maker, July 19, 1980

From The Elvis Costello Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
... Bibliography ...

Melody Maker


Nothing but music and fun

Allan Jones

Three nights in the life of Allan Jones, who found Elvis, the Specials and the best of British at Montreux


Next morning we found Jerry outside the Mayfair pub on the promenade. Suggs, Madness' singer was with him. They were polishing off the day's first round of drinks.

Suggs had come over to see the Specials and Clive Langer. Madness were due in the studio this week to begin work on a new album with Langer.

"We've written the songs for it," Suggs explained. "We're just working on the reviews. We're going to review it on Saturday, record it Sunday and have it in the shops on Monday..."

"You're going to spend a whole day on the new one, are you?" Dammers asked him. "It's not a rock opera, is it?"

Dammers had been fiddling with his new Yashika camera. He started shooting everything in sight.

"You should save it for the Alps and mountain goats," Adrian Boot told him.

"Mounting goats?" Suggs exclaimed. "What kind of behaviour is that?"

Meanwhile, back at the Casino, Jake Riviera was leading the F-Beat crew from the bus that had brought them from Orange where they'd played a festival with the Feelgoods the previous night.

Clearly, there had been a considerable amount of chasping out the night before. (Note: to chasp — to be one of the cha(s)ps; to enjoy a damned good evening with the chasps; this will include copious amounts of drink and a lot of blimming — ie, bantering.) Billy Bremner described the coach as a kind of mobile Jonestown, with bodies sprawled everywhere all the way from Orange.

Downstairs in the casino's main auditorium, they were locking the doors and evacuating the press. Elvis Costello was preparing for his soundcheck and no one was invited. The Attractions started up, Elvis strummed a few bars. A French photographer who'd previously gone unnoticed rather foolishly whipped out a camera; he was whipped out of the auditorium before he'd removed his lens cap.

Elvis' attention was then diverted by the hapless individual in the lighting gallery who was fiddling with the spotlights.

"Tell that motherfucker to stop, or we do," he ranted.

One of the Attractions' road crew approached the gallery, shouting. He was ignored. Elvis' temper was on the blink; a definite wobbler was waiting in the wings.

"Look, mate," the roadie shouted to the gallery. "We're not asking you to stop fiddling with those lights. We're telling you."

A tap on the shoulder told me that my renegade presence at the back of the press gallery had been detected. I missed the eventual outcome of the altercation.


The F-Beat night at the Montreux Festival opened with a set from Clive Langer and the Boxes, whose first album, Splash, has just been shunted onto the racks.

Their performance rather lacked the consistent edge of surprise and the unexpected twists of focus that characterise the best moments on the album, but it was lively enough. Langer plays with music as if he's mixing an exceptionally potent cocktail, when the ingredients are blended successfully, his songs can knock you out. When the recipe's not specific enough, they just make you a little giddy. "Burning Money" and "Hope And Glory" were lethal, a lot of the rest of his set was a little diluted. Still, once you get the taste, you can't easily put him down.

A surprise appearance by Carlene Carter prefaced Rockpile's performance. Looking thrillingly diverting in a dramatic mini-skirt and cowboy boots, and clearly nervous, she was carefully coached through "Cry" by the brilliantly simple touch of Rockpile. Gaining confidence by the moment, her duet with Edmunds on "Baby Ride Easy" was full of vigour and dashing humour. She retired looking relieved to have completed the brief set without fainting.

Rockpile's own set was predictably superlative. They'd probably win my heart if they just walked out onto a stage and produced a display of advanced origami and did a few card tricks. With a set that features more good rock 'n' roll to the square inch than most bands accumulate in several lifetimes, they made you hope that God's jukebox will prove to be primed with their records when you get to heaven.

"Right," said Nick Lowe after a bristling assault on "Crawling From The Wreckage," "since this is a jazz festival, we're gonna do a Tony Bennett number..." The Swiss looked utterly bemused. Basher began to croon. "I left my heart in Stan Francisco."

"This next one's almost as old as that," Basher announced.

"This next one's almost as old as me," Edmunds flashed back.

Rockpile fell sideways into "I Hear You Knocking."

"Oh, yes — now I liked that one," Rasher beamed as Edmunds and Billy Bremner brought the number to a coruscating climax.

The three of them exchanged the kind of grin that told you everything you ever needed to know about the collective personality of Rockpile.

Looking a little out of condition (but don't we all at the moment, dear?), Elvis Costello declared war on Montreux with a virulence that would've shocked even his most longstanding admirers.

The movie director Sam Fuller once famously defined the cinema as a battleground. That's exactly what rock 'n' roll becomes in Costello's raging hands. Wrestling with demons most of us have only vaguely imagined, Costello doesn't just write and perform songs that are among the most literate and penetrating in the entire repertoire of rock 'n' roll, he unleashes upon his audience the darkest possible realities.

Live, he's always such great theatre because you never know how far he's capable of pushing himself. Every performance seems an attempt to achieve some kind of personal catharsis or an act of personal exorcism. It's compulsive and frightening, rarely entertaining in any conventional sense. He can make you feel as uncomfortable as he clearly feels.

The new numbers in his set were rather obscured by the violent pace of the performance and the unsuitability of the casino for this kind of elemental rock 'n' roll. "Clubland" and "From A Whisper To A Scream" sounded terrific, but they eluded any detailed scrutiny. He also performed a stunning version of "Walk, Don't Look Back" that continued his affection for the style of modern soul music he began to explore on Get Happy!!

Splicing together songs from different periods of his career ("Green Shirt" fading dynamically into "Chelsea," "Big Tears" pressing at the contours of "Secondary Modern," for instance), he created an electrifying mosaic of images and impulses. The Attractions, meanwhile, seem to scale one peak of musical empathy, only to climb another.

Their collective performance on an extended "Watching The Detectives" rivalled the extraordinary dementia of, say, Neil Young's "Last Dance," from Time Fades Away (one of the all-time great moments in rock history).

By the time they'd wound up with "Mystery Dance," "Oliver's Army" and an incendiary "Pump It Up," I felt like an emotional corkscrew: all wound up and nowhere to go...

Jerry Dammers was the first to suggest that everyone should troop off to the Hazyland Disco.

Elvis wasn't at all convinced that it was a good idea, though he was prepared to be persuaded. He'd arrived at the hotel, still as damp as a dishcloth after the gig.

"You can fuck off for a start," he said. He was smiling, but I'm not sure it counted for very much. Costello now lives under such constant scrutiny that anything he says that's overheard by any passing hack is going to be taken down and used as evidence. Any chance remark, of the kind you or I could get away with, he has to live with.

No wonder he's always on edge. It must become an intolerable burden. I wouldn't be surprised if he searches his hotel rooms for bugging devices and sleeps wearing a gag in case he starts rambling. There must be few people with whom he can feel at ease; reporters certainly aren't among their number.

It's impossible to reassure him that you aren't going to spend all night chasing him, asking him foolhardy questions about his personal life when all you really want to do anyway is have a beer and chasp out a little.

As it happens, he pesters Boot and me more than we'd even presume to pester him. "Still here are you — taking this down are you — tape recorder on, is it?"

The joke, such as it was, did wear a little thin...

Dammers was quickly bored with wasting around the hotel. He scampered off to Hazyland. Elvis and a few others followed. Jake went off to round up the Attractions and those members of Rockpile still standing. While we were waiting for them, the lobby was invaded by a small army of Japs in matching blue tracksuit tops. This was the Japanese Youth Orchestra.

"Ah, I see the Boomtown Rats have arrived at last," Riviera remarked, taking the stairs three at a time. "Love the new image, Bob," he said as he flew past a puzzled Nip.

Lively here isn't it?" Dave Edmunds said, suppressing a yawn as we strolled the early morning streets of Montreux looking for Hazyland.

"I'm not surprised it's remained neutral," Jake reflected. "I mean, who'd even want to invade Switzerland? Even the Germans didn't want it and old Adolf was into taking anything he could get his hands on. He even invaded Belgium. But who would want to invade a country where all they ever do is make cuckoo clocks and chocolates? Hannibal had the right idea: trample all over the place on elephants."

It cost an arm and a leg to get into the Hazyland Disco; a couple of drinks would've left us as limbless torsos.

"My first drum kit probably cost less than a round of drinks in here," Terry Williams said.

The drum kit you've got now probably cost less than a round of drinks in here," Jake replied.

"I hope you're taking all this down," said Elvis Costello, who just happened to be passing.

"I reckon it's down to the old Bunce Cards," said Dave Edmunds fishing out a ribbon of credit cards.

"The blue ones or the green ones tonight, Dave?" Pete Thomas asked.

"Billy Bremner told me this really funny joke today," Edmunds began.

"Oh, God," said Bruce Thomas. "Edmunds'll be doing card tricks in a minute."

The group on stage was a seven piece cabaret band. They were dressed in white silk and they played what they hoped would pass for dance music.

"Not Dexy's Midnight Runners, is it?" Jake asked.

"Where's your tape recorder then?" Elvis Costello asked, coming hack the other way. "Taping all this are you?"

A girl appeared on stage. She was only there two minutes before she was down to a rather fetching silver G-string. Her breasts were as pert as puppies. Not that I was looking.

"Frankly," said Jake Riviera, moving a little closer to the stage, "I find this sort of thing obscene."

"I'm not enjoying it, either," said Edmunds, peering over Jake's shoulder.

"I wonder if she plays the trumpet as well," Pete Thomas wondered.

The dancer disappeared into the wings.

"I like a woman with a cultivated voice," said Edmunds.

There were about 12 of us in this small hotel room overlooking Lake Geneva. Someone had set up a video; a tape of some police series was playing. We'd just got to the prison riot sequence. Heads were being split open by truncheons.

"Ah, the Music Machine," Jake Riviera said.

Adrian Boot laughed and fell over on his side.

"If you're going to get a camera out, I'll break your fingers," Elvis Costello told him.

The sun was up over the lake. It was about six am.

"Lake looks lovely this morning," Jake said, a hand over one eye.

"I think I might go for a walk on it later," Elvis Costello said.

<< >>

Melody Maker, July 19, 1980

Allan Jones on the Montreux Jazz Festival, including Elvis Costello & The Attractions, Saturday, July 12, 1980, Montreux, Switzerland.

Melody Maker reports EC will play the Edinburgh Rock Festival, Sunday, August 17, 1980.


1980-07-19 Melody Maker cover.jpg 1980-07-19 Melody Maker photo 01.jpg
Cover and photo.

Costello for Scotland

Melody Maker

1980-07-19 Melody Maker page 03 clipping.jpg

Elvis Costello and the Attractions plus the Average White Band head two of the nights of this year’s Edinburgh Rock Festival.

The Rock Festival is an official part of the city’s international festival, running for three weeks from August 17, and the fringe Niteclub festival, announced last week, has now been incorporated into the rock festival.

The Average White Band now open the concert series with a show at the Playhouse, and Elvis Costello and the Attractions mark the first night of the festival proper on August 17 at the Playhouse.

Tickets are now on sale at: £3.50 and £3 for the AWB and £3 and £2.50 for Costello, on sale personally or by post from the Playhouse box office, Greenside Place, Edinburgh, with cheques or postal orders payable to Regular Music, plus an s.a.e.

The rest of the festival bands, believed to include Ultravox, will be announced next week, and the festival will feature at least 15 groups spread over three venues – Edinburgh Playhouse, Tiffanys and Niteclub.

1980-07-19 Melody Maker page 24-25.jpg
Page scans.

1980-07-19 Melody Maker page 33 clipping.jpg

1980-07-19 Melody Maker photo 03.jpg 1980-07-19 Melody Maker photo 02.jpg

1980-07-19 Melody Maker photo 04.jpg


Back to top

External links