New cries of "We Want Elvis" are beginning to rise slowly across the nation. Only the "Elvis" resurgence does not refer to singer Elvis Presley, but to a pasty-faced nerd named Elvis Costello.
Costello, the latest punk rock import from England. performed to an over-capacity crowd of 400 at Faces in Dallas last Saturday night.
The performance was at least entertaining, and at most, an inspired but untalented attempt at music. I admit though, I did enjoy Elvis Costello immensely.
Costello's words and music are angry and, in some cases, decibels beyond actual hearing ability. On stage he wears a baggy brown suit, complete with skinny tie, black-rimmed glasses and loafers, as he spits and sweats onto the mic.
The crowd looked mild, in contrast to the ones viewing the Sex Pistols, the Ramones or Bowie. Most were young, moderately drunk, progressively getting more stoned and very impersonal.
Perhaps Costello has captured the quality to infect the masses with impersonal anger. Almost every song underlines anger with revenge.
According to Costello's Cinderella story, he began his career as a computer operator and song writer. After many refusals from recording companies, his first two singles, "Less Than Zero" and "Alison" appeared on the Stiff label.
Being turned down by the music companies didn't make Costello bitter. According to press releases, he was already bitter. "It was no shock to be confronted by these idiots," he said. "I didn't ever think that I was going to walk into a record company to meet all these fat guys smoking big cigars who'd say something like, 'Stick with me son, I'll make you a star.'"
Release of his album, My Aim Is True, publicity and concerts placed Costello into the public eye, and definitely into music news. Sounds and Melody Maker had him on their covers simultaneously, and Saturday Night Live featured him as a guest performer.
"There's nothing glamorous or romantic about the world at the moment," he said. "I don't attempt to express people's feelings, I'm not the arbitrator of public taste or opinion."
The feelings may be Costello's, mad and defiant, but they do reflect a public emotion. "Music has to get people," he said. "In the heart, or in the head, I don't care where, as long as it gets them."