New Musical Express, July 27, 1991

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Elvis Costello & Richard Harvey

Andrew Collins

"Life's a sleigh ride," muses beleaguered council leader Michael Murray, "unless you're the lead dog, you're always looking up someone else's arse!"

Pithy stuff. Meanwhile, Alan Bleasdale's GBH looks up the arse of no-one. It is simply the best original TV drama series this decade (wow!—Ed), so good it should be on BBC. And if you gave up after the maddening Episode Two, then be thankful for that post-awards repeat (coming soon).

Until then, even a stunted memory of GBH will see you through the soundtrack. Its opening theme ("The Life And Times Of Michael Murray") will have you gripped by the first drum/horn reveille. This is a gorgeous high-drama passage which plays dainty xylophone (probably) and percussive tinkles over forboding rumbles, and then flourishes about, mocking and trumpeting its not-really-Derek-Hatton-style protagonist, and all the pomp and pantomime that heralds his (pre-breakdown) presence.

To follow — more of the same, really. Sad strings, creepy flashback piano, a gang of intriguing titles ("It Wasn't Me!," "Smack 'Im," "Bubbles," "Prufrock Quartet") — fine, multi-emotional, clean, clever (gulp) classical music to bring down the Hard Left from within and pour acid on school hamsters to.

This is not a record you will pore over, but one that you might let pour over you; 22 individual 'tracks' which, at the end of the day, marry Bernard Hermann to Vivaldi —a remarkable and wonderful concept. Certainly the most useful thing Elvis Costello's tagged his name to for ages, and a surefire fave on Degsy's in-car CD player (I don't think).


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New Musical Express, July 27, 1991

Andrew Collins reviews G.B.H. by Elvis Costello and Richard Harvey.


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1991-07-27 New Musical Express cover 1.jpg


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