New Musical Express, August 6, 1977

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Heartbreak hotel

Julie Burchill

Elvis Costello / Dingwalls

"A raw nerve," said the boy I was with in the back of a car apres Elvis. I studied the streets and sighed to remember a thought from Mink DeVille: "Love... what's so good about it? But then again, I can't say what's bad."

What's bad about True Love in the Modern World is that pollution is rife. ("I heard you let that little friend of mine take off your party dress" — "Alison")

Pete Thomas on drums, Bruce Thomas on bass and Steven Young on organ (and what an organ!) are the backdrop to the guitar, voice and vitriol of Elvis Costello (22 and still true), who sings beautiful songs for losers.

This is bedsit-room, singles-bar, phone-in agony ("Why do you have to say that there's always someone who can do it better than I can?" — "Miracle Man") from which the venom runneth over into that rarity, luxurious rock and roll. The guilty secret, the useless anticipation, the unrequited ache all unite to dam-bust through into bitterness, betrayal and disgust as Elvis asks: "Why why why?"

He may not look like a teen wet-dream, but he has the inherent sense of nuance which marks him out as one of the fated feted ("I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused" — "Red Shoes"), a fact which became more and more painfully obvious as Costello bled through every single track of My Aim Is True, plus songs such as "Watching The Detectives," "Lipstick Vogue," "Lip Service," "I Don't Want To Go To Chelsea" and the B-side of "Less Than Zero" (the first single), "Radio Sweetheart."

The second single, "Alison," and the latest "Red Shoes" also came in for a beating; but the song that took the prize was the elpee track "I'm Not Angry," a song that could kill at a fifty foot radius: "You're upstairs with a boyfriend while I'm left here to listen / I hear you calling his name I hear the stutter of admission / I could hear you whispering as I crept by your door / So you found some other joker who could please you some more / I'm not angry! Not angry, anymore!"

It also imprisons THE line "There is no such thing as an original sin!"

As well as shooting up the mainline to your heart, Elvis Costello also plays nirvana dancing music, and had I not been so spellbound (like watching Iggy at Aylesbury; I was so entranced I barely applauded) I would have Watusi'd.

Beyond all boundaries of excess and decadence, certain people operate as though the Modern World never existed, singing songs of lethal love to pure pop tunes. Mink DeVille does it for America, and Elvis Costello does it for us.

Tags: DingwallsLondonThe AttractionsPete ThomasBruce ThomasSteven YoungMy Aim Is TrueAlisonMiracle Man(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red ShoesWatching The DetectivesLipstick VogueLip Service(I Don't Want To Go To) ChelseaLess Than ZeroRadio SweetheartI'm Not AngryIggy PopAylesburyMink DeVille

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New Musical Express, August 6, 1977

Julie Burchill reviews Elvis Costello & The Attractions, Tuesday, July 26, Dingwalls, London.

A full page ad for My Aim Is True runs on pg. 17; the lp is "Bubbling Under" on the album chart.


1977-08-06 New Musical Express clipping 01.jpgpg. 17
Clipping and advertisement.

Photo by Chalkie Davies.
1977-08-06 New Musical Express photo 01 cd.jpg

Cover and album chart.
1977-08-06 New Musical Express cover.jpg 1977-08-06 New Musical Express page 02.jpg


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