Allan Mayes of Southport wrote to us, not to confess the record that changed his own life, but to query his old mucker Elvis Costello's choice of David Ackles's "Down River" in Q105. Following a meeting at a Merseyside New Year's Eve party in 1971, Allan formed an acoustic folk duo arrangement called Rusty with the speccy Declan Mac. "Forget all that stuff about Hank Williams being his roots," Allan laughs, "he was just as into wimpy acoustic music as the rest of us — David Crosby, Van Morrison, The Band..." Mayes's purchase of the first Brinsley Schwarz album from a junk shop left the young Costello, who labelled them a poor man's CS&N, unimpressed, "but when Silver Pistol came out, it really hit him and we hammered those songs to death." Together the pair ventured to the original Cavern to see the Schwarz and when Dec moved down to London to live with his dad, he continued traipsing after Nick Lowe, who was of course convinced to listen to the young man's songs.The rest, as they say...
"I swear that Silver Pistol changed his life because if it hadn't been for Nick Lowe he might have still been stuck in the sticks playing bars for a living." Allan, for his part, is not a bitter man. "I went for the safe option of playing "Annie's Song" in pubs for six quid a night. I've never felt any jealousy because he was phenomenal, even as a 19-year-old. He blew me away as a songwriter."