Get set. This weekend two of the hottest acts in America break onto the central Florida concert scene.
Huey Lewis and the News have been dominating the airwaves for the past three months with Top 10 hits like "The Heart of Rock and Roll," and "This Is It." Saturday night, they will dominate the Jacksonville Coliseum. Elvis Costello and the Attractions, who have just released a breathtaking album called Goodbye Cruel World — his best since Imperial Bedroom — will rock the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre in Orlando Sunday night.
The two bands are distinctive. Huey Lewis and The News draws from the classic American pop roots of bands such as the Monkeys and Tommy James and the Shondells to record superbly-crafted, if sometimes too polished, ready-made hits. Following in the footsteps of consumate tunesmiths like Paul McCartney, Lewis looks like the kind of guy you wouldn't mind introducing your sister to. His music is also the type you wouldn't tell her to turn down. It is unoffensive, sometimes to the point of being bland ("I want a new drug / The kind that makes me feel the way I feel when I'm with you") but is so exuberant that one cannot help tapping one's foot — even when thinking about the budget deficit or the arms race.
The band doesn't take many chances. Drummer Bill Gibson provides a pounding backbeat that smoothly anchors Lewis' throaty vocals, with lead guitarist Chris Hays' precision riffs. The News fosters an illusion of spontaneity in their music, but it is nothing that hasn't been heard before. Nevertheless, they are expected to rock the Coliseum.
If The News is following the lead of past successes, Elvis Costello consistently defines his own terms of success. And almost always, the result is brilliant. From his late '70s debut album, My Aim Is True, which featured the classic "Allison," to his Country/blues album Almost Blue, through the new one, he is converting legions of fans to his uniquely-textured fusion of jazz, rock, country and pop.
The dazzling heart-stopper on the Goodbye Cruel World album Is "The Deportee Club." Not since "I Don't Want To Go To Chelsea" from This Year's Model, or arguably "Goon Squad" from Armed Forces, has he produced a song so haunting and rambunctious.
Just listen to the first refrain: "In the Arrivederci Roma nightclub bar and grill / Standing in the fiberglass ruins watching time stand still / All your troubles you confess to another faceless backless dress / Schnapps, chiante, porter and ouzo / Pernod, vodka, sambuca, I love you so / Deportee."
Rife with screaming lead guitar and the best hard core vocals Elvis has produced in years, the song confirms he has not lost his rocking roots that catapulted turn to instant stardom in the late ‘70s.
But if subtleties are sought, they can be found everywhere on this album. Gary Barnacle's saxophone riffs mysteriously water around Jim Paterson's trombone in songs like "I Wanna Be Loved" and "Peace In Our Time.' Pete Thomas' drum playing is consistently innovative. And the production by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley is painstakingly executed to make this a fantastically lush album.
If possible, don't miss this one.