Music World, April 1981

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Music World

US music magazines


Elvis live in Boston

Elvis Costello / Orpheum Theatre

Jon McAuliffe

The last time Elvis Costello hit town was almost 3 years ago. At that time he was promoting his latest LP, This Year's Model on Columbia. Back then he was lean, hungry and bent on moving his audience — one way or another. He said little, smiled less, but gave the audience every cent worth of its ticket price. No one left dissatisfied.

This time around was different, but no less enjoyable. Unlike last tour's opening act, Nick Lowe and Rockpile, who were treated courteously by the audience, this time we got A&M Records' Squeeze. I was personally unfamiliar with the group, and greatly preferred them to Rockpile. Their songs were exciting and fresh sounding and lead singer-guitarist Glenn Tilbrook really won the crowd with his talent and showmanship. Paul Carrack, formerly with Ace and the writer of the hit "How Long" has recently joined the band on keyboards and his addition adds much to Squeeze's sound.

Elvis took the stage in darkness to screams, whistles and cheers, not unlike that of the early Tupelo Flash, and opened with a ballad, "Just A Memory." His fists clenched the air as he sang "Losin' you is just a memory / Memories don't mean that much to me." The audience stood up and stayed on their feet throughout the show — something I've never seen before. As far as new wave and its generation are concerned, Elvis Costello is the king.

Elvis looked a little pudgy in his fiftyish Bill Haley sportcoat, but he performed as lean and hungry as ever. He did songs from every one of his albums, plus a few he's never recorded like Patsy Cline's "She's Got You," Little Richard's "Slippin & Slidin," and his own "Black Sails In The Sunset." This time around he spoke to the audience a good bit, smiled and even laughed. He's not angry anymore.

Elvis did more songs in his hour and a half set than most do in three. Talk about getting your money's worth! And the lighting! Recalling lighting from 50's movies with a slight 80's touch, one was transported not into some new psychedelia, but into a really impressive combination of cutting white spots from overhead with fields of stars in the background.

For the finale Elvis brought Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze back on-stage for the duet that also appears on Costello's latest LP, Trust. "From A Whisper To A Scream" was the highlight of the show and could be a great single.

With the possible exception of Bruce Springsteen, I'd be hard pressed to recommend a better show by anyone today.


Music World, No. 84, April 1981

Jon McAuliffe reviews Elvis Costello & The Attractions and opening act, Squeeze, Thursday, February 5, 1981, Orpheum Theatre, Boston, Massachusetts.

Art Deco reports on a newly-circulating bootleg tape.


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Page scans.

Attention Costello tape collectors

Art Deco

Though we don't usually bother with this sort of thing, we will make an exception here as this is truly a piece of revelatory news.

A friend of a friend of mine, in what shall remain a nameless city in Canada, is quite close with a particular British musician who just happened to be on Elvis Costello's original Stiff Records demo session. Through this connection we at Music World got to hear the tape. For the Costello collector it's a classic. It contains songs that one might not associate with Costello as well as ones that no one's even heard of before. It is assumed this tape will be in the hands of collectors in some form before long. The tape is studio quality and lovely stereo. This is a young, friendly, inexperienced, but charming Elvis Costello before the venom set in. The band sounds great and compliments Elvis perfectly. The tracks, including vocals, sound live. What follows is a brief description of each song.

"Third Rate Romance" — The tune that was a hit for the Amazing Rhythm Aces is decently performed by Elvis.

"Living In Paradise" — Similar to the LP version.

"Radio Soul" — (two takes) This song would later become "Radio, Radio" and while not as good as that song, shows what it sprang from. Its intro is the same as that on the Supremes "You Keep Me Hangin' On", only in a major key. In fact a lot of Motown influence shows thru in Elvis' work here. Elvis vocals here sound tired and bored. Nevertheless, a gem for collectors.

"Pay It Back" — Featured on his 1st LP in standard rock style, here it's done in a sort of quasi-reggae style complete with horns. Its freshness makes it sound as good if not better than that on the LP. It's lots of fun. Opens with another classic Motown riff.

"Imagination Is A Powerful Deceiver" — (three takes) This may be the best song on the tape. It's certainly every bit as good as "Alison" and maybe better. It's a well structured, depthy piece of music and one that must be heard by all Costello collectors. There's three takes here and it seems as if each one gets better. Elvis can be heard conversing with the band and making fun of his own mistakes between takes.

'Third Rate Romance" — Another take, pretty much the same as the first.

"Knockin' On Heaven's Door" — That's right — the Dylan tune. Done expertly here by Elvis and company and using the alternate lyrics that Dylan rewrote for his 1974 tour with The Band.

"Pack It Up" — (two takes) Take one opens with four false starts and some laughter. This is really a good up-tempo R & B tune and one that should be on record. Take two features back-up vocals, unlike the first version.

"Please Don't Stop The Band" — This is the last tune on the tape and is uncharacteristically wimpy writing for Elvis. It sounds like an attempt at writing a palatable AM radio song for 1976. The verse is good, but the chorus sounds like the Partridge Family. Just the same you have to hear it.

Lots of tapes, both "live" concert as well as studio recordings like this one, circulate among tape collectors. It's our intention to make everyone aware of odd ones like this that perhaps might not be well known.

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Cover and contents page.


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