Melody Maker, July 23, 1977

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Melody Maker


Deep soul from Elvis

Elvis Costello / My Aim Is True

Allan Jones

Elvis Costello (vocals, electric guitar). No other musicians credited.
Produced by Nick Lowe for Keepitasahobby Productions.

Elvis Costello was introduced recently in these pages and enthusiastically acclaimed as one of the most distinctive and refreshing young performers to have sauntered out of the woodshed for some considerable time.

The recorded evidence to justify the hyperbole — and convince even the most cynical and suspicious minds of El's immense potential — will be on the racks from July 22.

I'd like to see it on the chart within the week, please. In fact, My Aim Is True could, given the opportunity and exposure, rocket with ease to national prominence: the collection contains enough potential hit singles to stock a bloody jukebox, believe me.

Two of the cuts, "Less Than Zero" and "Alison," have, of course, already been issued as 45s and conveniently suggest the scope of Costello's writing and provide musical reference points for the uninitiated. Elvis, like his contemporary. Graham Parker, and his producer, Nick Lowe (who's recorded El with sympathy, and an affinity for the composer's ideals), has a rare talent for seizing an image, an idea or a musical style and, however familiar its original shape, creating out of it something quite powerfully individual.

"Less Than Zero" is a vivid reflection of Elvis' affection and empathy with Sixties' r&b; simultaneously, the song, delivered by the author with swaggering confidence over snarling guitars and crashing cymbal splashes, introduces, through its colourful evocation of suburban perversions and wry cynicism, the mordant, Ortonesque humour that characterises several of the songs included here. "Alison," by comparison, is a classically crafted pop song enhanced by stylish guitar inflections and Elvis' restrained vocal passion. The song also reflects Costello's other principal preoccupation as a writer: it's centred, like so many of the songs in this collection, around the termination of a relationship (a theme Elvis views, with authentic insight, from a variety of perspectives).

Elsewhere, Elvis deals more explicitly with the emotional violence that attends the disintegration of love affairs, and with the frustrations and occasional humiliations of early adolescent love and sexual encounters. The fierce "Miracle Man," for instance, has the song's protagonist admitting to his sexual inadequacy with an impassioned and convincing concern and painful, authenticity.

The theme of rejection is examined on the irresistible "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes" (probably my favourite track on the album), but here the mood is more extrovert, with sparkling guitar chords crashing over vigorous piano, with Elvis providing one of the most exhilarating vocal performances on the entire record, with a vibrant back-up chorus supplying additional colour. This song's effervescence is challenged only by the magnificent "Mystery Dance," a perfectly realised homage to Fifties rock and roll with Elvis' vocal drenched in greasy echo, which presents a concise account of a guy's first sexual adventure and its disastrous development.

My Aim Is True is already a personal favourite — I can think of only a few albums released this year that rival its general excellence — and I can only hope its delights will be universally recognised. Hell, you can dance to it, swoon to it, sing along with it, laugh and cry with it, smooch and romance to it. And, to paraphrase Elvis Costello's "Welcome To The Working Week," I think it might thrill you, I know it won't kill you. Buy-buy.

Tags: My Aim Is TrueStiff RecordsNick LoweKeepitasahobbyLess Than ZeroAlisonGraham ParkerMiracle Man(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red ShoesMystery DanceWelcome To The Working Week1st Attractions TourThe AttractionsSutherland Brothers And QuiverBruce ThomasPete Thomas Chilli Willi & the Red Hot PeppersSteve MasonDingwallsLondonNashville RoomsThe Rumour

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Melody Maker, July 23, 1977

Allan Jones reviews My Aim Is True.

Melody Maker reports on upcoming tour dates and previews the London debut of Elvis Costello & The Attractions, Tuesday, July 26, 1977, Dingwalls.

Also includes parts 3 and 4 of a six-part, three-publication ad campaign for My Aim Is True. (Parts 1 and 2 ran in NME; 5 and 6 ran in Sounds)


1977-07-23 Melody Maker advertisement 1.jpg1977-07-23 Melody Maker page 17 clipping 01.jpg
Advertisement and clipping.

At last — Elvis to tour!

Melody Maker

1977-07-23 Melody Maker clipping 03.jpg

Elvis Costello, the balladeer of the new wave whose debut album My Aim Is True is released this week on Stiff (see review on page 17) has formed a band and is touring through August and into September.

The band, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, features Elvis on guitar, former Sutherland Brothers and Quiver bass player Bruce Thomas, Peter Thomas (ex-Chilli Willi) on drums and Steve Mason, a graduate from the Royal College of Music, on keyboards.

1977-07-23 Melody Maker photo 01.jpg

Elvis Costello

Melody Maker

Dingwalls Dance Hall, Camden Lock, London, Tuesday, July 26. Tickets: £1.50. Band onstage approximately 10.30 pm.

Elvis Costello's London debut with his recently formed band, the Attractions, looks like being the event of the week (okay, we admit we're prejudiced). El's only other gigs in London have been at the Nashville (supporting The Rumour) where he played solo. He was commanding and compulsive listening then; with the kind of band he's put together now he should be quite stunning. As his debut album, My Aim Is True, testifies, Elvis Costello is presently one of the hottest new talents on legs.

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