Music, July 27, 1983

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Punch The Clock

Elvis Costello

Kate Sturdy

Elvis Costello sings like the boy next door who spends years never getting the girl — but in the end, Flashboy is shown up as shallow and Four-eyes flays the lot of them. Is he always dreaming of success, social and sexual? His songs are acute observations of boy-hopes-for-girl.

He sings with wide-mouthed elongated vowels and throat-stretched melodies, lip-licking whining — but he does it in tune.

It's his eighth album and the best so far. After "Watching the Detectives," much of his music has been disappointing — experimental, pleading but lacking tuneful interest. Now he's combined sharp words with catchy tunes.

One of the best and bitter tracks is "Pills and Soap": "Children and animals. Give me the needle, give me the rope. We're gonna melt them down for pills and soap." Biting words to a slow-clap beat, bare words from a bruised lyricist and melodic, too.

This runs straight into the finale, "The World And His Wife," a hopeful, jolly song and a clever contrast.

Some songs are slow and pathetic; others on this album are fast and musical — all are extremely well played; all blend well.

It was hard to admit to my dislike of Robert Wyatt's version of "Shipbuilding." Costello wrote the words and sings it in a very similar style. But I like it so much better. You may, too. The Costello vocals and horn combination are more soul-reaching than anything Wyatt achieved.

Open-conversational Costello writes listenable lyrics. For several years he seemed overrated, a wimpy wordist with — couple of good tunes — but now he's proved himself.

Cover blurb:

Elvis Costello not pretending anymore


Elvis Costello leads The Attractions into our playlist and the charts with "Every Day I Write A Book," his latest single on F-Beat Records, distributed by RCA.

Taken from his album, Punch The Clock, the single is an indication of his popularity despite his determined sincerity, an attitude uncommon in the world of pop.

You can win a copy of Punch The Clock — turn to Page 2!

Tags: Punch The ClockThe AttractionsEveryday I Write The BookPills And SoapThe World And His WifeShipbuildingRobert WyattWatching The DetectivesF-Beat

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Music, July 27 - August 9, 1983

Kate Sturdy reviews Punch The Clock.


1983-07-27 Music cover.jpg

1983-07-27 Music clipping 01.jpg

Photo by Nick Knight.
1983-07-27 Music photo 01 nk.jpg


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