New Musical Express, December 17, 1983

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Disturbing the peace


Borre Haugstad

At Elvis Costello's recent show in Oslo, he unveiled a new song, performed solo, entitled "Peace In Our Time." Norwegian writer Borre Haugstad spoke to him about it after the show...

Why "Peace In Our Time"?

"I used the phrase Neville Chamberlain said when landed back in England (following his 1938 meeting with Adolf Hitler) as a starting point for the title of the song, which is about the way we are always lied to whenever they say 'Now we've got an agreement,' 'Now we've got the missiles,' 'Now we're all safe.'"

"There's always a reason why we're told that, and it's always a lie, you know; you can't make agreements with fascist madmen, you can't have destructive weapons without running the risk of eventually blowing people up. I think it's a complete hypocrisy. It's not intended as a pompous song. I wrote it because I'm as frightened as everybody else.

"I'm gonna do a show on the 19th of December (at the Victoria Apollo, with Style Council, Ian Dury, Mari Wilson and others) which is a collection of comedians, actors and musicians to raise money to forward the campaign against the Cruise missiles. In some sense it's too late because the missiles are already there, but the important thing now is to sway people's opinion, get them to really see the danger they are facing.

"So when they come to the next election they're gonna vote for someone who's gonna change the policy. To say the missiles have arrived so we better give up is completely wrong."

With this new song "Peace In Our Time," Costello completes a trilogy (along with "Shipbuilding" and "Pills And Soap") of political pop for the '80s. I'm sure there will be more.

Another thing that struck me at the Oslo show was Costello's voice: at times it was remarkably similar to David Ackles. Confronted with this, he burst out: "Good grief! David Ackles is one of my favourites."

"I've never met anybody who's ever heard of him. His first album on Elektra was one of my favourite albums."

David Ackles, as some of you may remember, made a stunningly beautiful self-titled album in 1968. Julie Driscoll covered one of the album's songs, "Road To Cairo," the very same year. Costello was enthusiastic.

"Some of his stuff is a bit doomy and pretentious, but I really like a lot of it, like 'Road To Cairo' and 'Down River.' There's some fantastic guitar playing on that first Ackles album, like gothic-psychedelic music... He's a very talented writer, it's terrible so few people have heard about him. He should have been a big star in the right sense of the word.

After his first album, David Ackles, he made two more LPs for Elektra, Subway To The Country and American Gothic (the last one hailed as a masterpiece in the NME Illustrated Encyclopaedia Of Rock). His fourth and last album, DT Ackles Five And Dime was released on Columbia, exactly ten years ago.

What about the similarity between the voices?

"Yeah, maybe I've got in my voice some reference point from way back that I've learnt."

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New Musical Express, December 17, 1983


Borre Haugstad talks with Elvis Costello about "Peace In Our Time" and David Ackles.

Images

1983-12-17 New Musical Express clipping.jpg
Clipping.

Photo by Peter Anderson.
1983-12-17 New Musical Express photo 01 pa.jpg


1983-12-17 New Musical Express cover.jpg
Cover.

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