New Musical Express, May 28, 1983

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Imposter releases new Costello single


Elvis Costello's new single "Pills And Soap" is rush released this week on Demon Records in a limited edition of 15,000 copies with the record credited to 'The Imposter'.

"I wanted it out quickly and the record company lawyers are still arguing," Costello told NME this week, referring to legal complications which had already delayed the release of his forthcoming LP and the UK tour planned for July.

F-Beat's licensing deal with WEA Records has apparently expired and a fresh deal is still under negotiation. Demon is an F-Beat subsidiary specialising in one-off releases.

The singer had personally delivered a freshly minted acetate of "Pills And Soap" to the editor's desk, sliding it from his slimline matt black metal briefcase with the comment, "It's a new song that will appear on the next album, although that will be a different version.

"I wanted the song to be heard at this particular time, it couldn't wait the month or two that it will take to finalise legal matters."

The song is a stark, eloquent and uncompromising outburst, evidently describing contempary Britain in lines like:

The king is in his counting house, some folks have all the luck
And all we get is pictures of Lord and Lady Muck
They come from lovely people with a hard line in hypocrisy
There are ashtrays of emotion for the fag ends of aristocracy...
"Give us our daily bread in individual slices
And something in the daily rag to cancel all the crises..."

The single will be released in a plain wrapper, the B side being an extended version of the song with a slightly different mix.

Besides acting as his own plugger — the singer also delivered The Imposter's debut to Radio One amongst other places — Costello also took part in the video shoot of Robert Wyatt's top twenty hit "Shipbuilding," the song Costello wrote last May in response to the Falklands War. He appears in a sequence filmed at London's Whisky A Go Go club.

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New Musical Express, May 28, 1983

NME reports on the release of "Pills And Soap."

Richard Cook reviews the single for "Pills And Soap."


1983-05-28 New Musical Express page 02 clipping 01.jpg 1983-05-28 New Musical Express page 18 clipping 01.jpg
Clippings. Photo by Kevin Cummins.

Outside This World

The Imposter: Pills And Soap

Richard Cook

As genuine as they come, believe me. The mood that beatstalks "Pills And Soap" makes up a physick of fear and disgust that Elvis Costello has never brewed more potently.As the record slips into the sick drudgery of the pop mainstream it should make everything it touches turn green and idle. This is poison, and it hurts.

Perhaps commercial neglect is stiffening Costello's backbone, or maybe this is a particularly dark temper from his newest work; either way it stands with the stupidly overlooked "Man Out Of Time" as the most crushing and chilling 45 he's released since "Watching The Detectives."

All the confectionery if pop is sucked to a bitter kernel, scraped away to a bone. No guitars caress the song's indictment, only Naive's fisted keyboards, an intermittent bass drum and a robotic clapatrack. Spare embellishments on a monologue that opens on an anaesthetised death and ends in a damned and hopeless patriotism, strung between a chorus that bleeds the bile of despair: "What would you say, what would you do / Children and animals two by two / Give me the needle, give me the rope / We're going to melt them down for pills and soap." When the singer is double-tracked in a twisted, grotesque harmony at the climax it feels like ice on an open wound. Music on an edge over an unspeakable drop.

1983-05-28 New Musical Express cover.jpg 1983-05-28 New Musical Express page 02.jpg
Cover and page scan.


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