Miami News, March 22, 1978

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It's time to trade in for This Year's Model

Jon Marlowe

Ol' four eyes is back.

Incredible singer/songwriter Elvis Costello is ready with a new studio LP entitled This Year's Model. (Sorry, children, but the disc won't be available for public consumption until March 30 or April 1).

Readers of this column already know that I feel Mr. Costello is one of the most Important (and entertaining) musical artists to have emerged in years.

His first monster LP, My Aim Is True, has already soared into the Top 30 on Billboard's national LP Chart. And wonder of wonders, even Miami radio stations have now finally tuned in to the lad (after shamefully overlooking him for over a year) and are now spinning his remarkable music.

Out on the street, I was able to secure an advance test cassette of Elvis' new LP. The following is a track by track sneak preview of this incredible piece of recorded product:


NO ACTION — Leave it to ol' E.C. to realize that the only thing worse to a teenager than "no future" is "no action." El's three-piece band (the Attractions) beautifully blast along in overdrive behind him, harmonies float in and out everywhere, as Elvis coyly bites out the words: "I don't wanna kiss you / I don't wanna touch / I don't wanna see you / Cause I don't miss you that much." Only Leonard Cohen writes better cynical/lost love/out for revenge lyrics, but, then again, ol' Leonard just don't rock the way this boy do.

THIS YEAR'S GIRL — A tense and tight syncopated drum solidly kicks the mesmerizing melody into your skull forever. For some reason, it reminds me of something off the Stones' Between The Buttons LP. Maybe it's the way Elvis snarls "You want her broken / With her mouth wide open." No matter, a simply beautiful piece of musical work.

THE BEAT — Ah. The BIG difference between Elvis Costello and Jackson Browne is found within this highly infectious rocker. While J.B. is out in L.A. "looking for a lover who won't blow his cover," our bespectacled hero is stuck inside rock 'n' roll, screaming "I don't wanna be your lover / I just wanna be your victim."

PUMP IT UP — The Young Rascals catch a dose of "Subterranean Homesick Blues." El delivers such rhyming fragments as "Listening to the Muzak / Thinking about this and that / She says that's that / I don't wanna chitterchat," as the Attractions push the whole thing along with the musical persuasion of an out-of-control piledriver.

LITTLE TRIGGERS — Nothing less than one of the finest "don't mess with me, honey" ballads you'll ever hear.

YOU BELONG TO ME — When I saw Elvis perform live in L.A. last year, he delivered this one with such frightening conviction that I thought he could never match it on vinyl. Wrong! The band plays on like a cross between the Rolling Stones and the Syndicate of Sound, as the lil' twerp ironically twists the whole mushy title around to mean the opposite: "No don't want anybody saying / You belong to me."


HAND IN HAND — A sonic/vacuum cleaner/Eno-like introduction whisks you right into this harmonic and melodic beauty, which features such totally bizzare lyrical thoughts as "Don't you know I'm an animal / Don't you know I can't stay upstairs."

LIP SERVICE — Finely tuned, straight ahead, 4/4 rock 'n' roll music, complete with hand claps and a Blue Oyster Cult chorus of "Everybody is going through the motions."

LIVING IN PARADISE — This musical jingle-jangle song is one of the finest E.C. has ever penned. P.S.: The lad also has a special way of offering such a common viewpoint as "You'd better have your fun / for it moves along" and still making it sound like you've never heard it before.

LIPSTICK VOGUE — Rumbling psychotic drums blast this intense speed freak, musical and lyrical delight right out of the speakers and into your feet. FOOTNOTE: Backstage in Elvis' dressing room in L.A. last year, I asked him exactly what this totally maniacal song meant. He just looked at me and said "What do you think it means?" I said "I really don't know." He just smiled and said "That's it."

RADIO, RADIO — Without a doubt one of the all time Top 10 rock 'n' roll songs. It's just so perfectly executed and so infectious, not to mention that it's the perfect summation of the bland and programmed state of radio today. Chances of airplay don't look too good for this one, with E.C. laying out such classic lines as: "I wanna bite the hand that feeds me / I wanna bite that hand so badly / I wanna make them wish they'd never seen me." Or "The radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools / Trying to anesthetize the way you feel."

FINAL 4/4 EVALUATION: Every one of the above songs is simply ace musical material and all of them have the potential to be hit singles. All I can say is: Springsteen, Seger, Nick Lowe and Graham Parker had better have some incredible musical tricks up their sleeves on their forthcoming LPs, for This Year's Model is the finest album I've heard this year.


The Miami News, March 22, 1978

Jon Marlowe reviews This Year's Model.


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