I'd been hearing quite a bit about how Elvis Costello picked a weird name for his weird self but a highly prophetic title for his debut album as one of the most striking new rock personas — an awkward Buddy Holly figure with an amazing repertoire of recycled rock and roll.
Costello's aim is true — but primarily because people like Bruce Springsteen have pointed him in the right direction to begin with. At times, Costello even sounds a lot like Springsteen but less speedy, seedy, intense or profound. Sometimes he even sounds like Mick Jagger and the early Rolling Stones or even the Band, but again with the same qualifications.
So who is Elvis Costello? Having slipped firmly into character and appropriate musical idiom, Costello's reluctant to discuss his past which is said to include a lot of rejection under assorted names.
Costello trades on this rejection, picking a gawky image to reinforce his underdog stance as an old-time street rocker come to earth in 1978. He could be a crazy character in Happy Days except that his music is just too good to be dismissed as a mostly illusionary flashback.
Though working in the old rock style of quick, short tunes where the words don't always mean much, the veteran musician inside Costello makes the most of the music as he runs it through the recycling process.
Thus he brings life and value to the Costello character and fascinates the listener as he entertains him with a baker's dozen of catchy little rock and roll tunes.
Costello's aim is right on and I'm eagerly awaiting his follow-up album.