Record Collector, May 2010

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Record Collector


Live At Hollywood High

Elvis Costello
Twenty tracks for the physical jerks

Jake Kennedy

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At 23, Elvis Costello sure cut a bitter figure. His sold-out June 1978 appearance at a school in the centre of the glitz and glam of Hollywood followed just two albums. The US would go on to hold these dear, despite an abrupt about-turn on the beloved Saturday Night Live in ’77.

What you get here is – rightly or wrongly – what the mainstream remember EC (and The Attractions) best for. Concertinaed down, This Year’s Model and My Aim Is True – played here at breakneck speed, no beats missed (though "Accidents Will Happen," which also appeared on a 1979 EP, is offered solely on piano – and all the better for it), sound devastatingly bile-filled. Costello plays up to his surroundings, thanking the ground for "staying late," and berating on numerous occasions the “physical jerks” he imagines running rife in such establishments. The band sound on edge, practised, but mainly just bloody young.

You might quibble on certain setlist choices and, indeed, when the pace slows ("Alison"; even "Watching The Detectives"), you’re aching for a return to the barrage of the likes of "No Action" or "Lipstick Vogue." But the majority of the time this is scintillating stuff that makes you glad there was someone around who got as angry as Elvis did, outside of the punk fraternity.

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Record Collector, No. 375, May 2010

Jake Kennedy reviews Live At Hollywood High.


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