One of the nicest aspects of the New Wave scene is the opportunity it has given for the [--] of small independent labels and record artists once considered "uncommercial" by the major corporate labels.
The most successful label is probably San Francisco's Beserkley ("Home Of The Hits") Records which has given us the adorable Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers. Britain's answer to Beserkley seems to be the recently formed Stiff ("Pure Pop For Now People") Records which has found its tour de force in Elvis Costello. The big difference is that Costello's LP is currently in the British Top Twenty and he has become somewhat of a national sensation in the U.K.
Now don't get the wrong idea. Costello has adopted the [--] as an outright symbol of [--] love and devotion to the rock 'n' roll spirit. Costello, who sounds a little like Bruce Springsteen without the gruff[--] and horns, demonstrates [--] knowledge of manipulative [--] on My Aim Is True, the [--] debut LP I've heard by anyone since the British Invasion and psychedelic era.
The only word for this album is DYNAMITE. Costello blends almost every style known to the rock idiom into a brilliant synthesis, and his voice is one of the most emotional sounds to hit pop music in many a year. In addition, his works all deal with the universal themes of belief in romantic love and sexual rejection, i.e., the whole "it's-my-party-and-I'll-cry-if-I-want-to" syndrome.
Costello has also been compared to Graham Parker. Not surprising since both artists share the same producer, Nick Lowe, who also works with the great Dave Edmunds and New Wave's The Damned. It looks like Lowe may become the Phil Spector of the '70s, and his first solo EP reveals that he shares the same eccentric traits as his mentor.
A concept EP (Side A is "Live"; Side B is "Dead"), the music is the same happy pop generally associated with Lowe. However, unlike Costello, Lowe's lyrics may be questionable if your sense of humor runs toward the prudish. The "Dead" side begins with a tongue-in-cheek look at hero worship about a silent screen star who gets eaten by her hungry canine ("She was a winner / Who became the doggie's dinner"). The music's still great and interesting enough to stir up anticipation for Lowe's first album, Wireless World, to be released later this month.
Elvis Costello's album is now available in the U.S. on the Columbia label (JC 35037). Strangely enough, the American version includes a selection not on the British version. If you already own the Elvis import and want the additional song, check out the Hit's Greatest Stiffs LP, an anthology by Stiffs various artists.
Either way, make sure you check out Elvis Costello. Depriving yourself of such pleasure would only be masochistic.