Record Mirror, November 7, 1981

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Record Mirror


Come home to Costello country

Mike Gardner

Elvis Costello didn't find his Nashville pilgrimage to record his Almost Blue album easy according to The South Bank Show (ITV Sunday November 8, 10.30pm).

The programme documents Elvis Costello's attempt to pay homage to the country music icons of Johnny Cash, Charlie Rich, Gram Parsons, Don Gibson, George Jones and Hank Williams from the early rehearsals in London to working with legendary country producer Billy Sherrill in Nashville and returning to play a country and western club in Aberdeen.

But the central theme throughout the documentary is the relationship between Elvis's deferential respect for the music and Sherrill's paternal, almost patronising stance towards Elvis and the Attractions.

The cameras capture Elvis respectful, Elvis passionate, Elvis self doubting, Elvis going through emotional gymnastics both on record and away from the studio while Sherrill sits impassively silent and authoritative.

Sherrill, whose track record includes writing Charlie Rich's "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World" and Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man" and producing virtually every country musician of note to have walked through Nashville city limits, alternates between trying to appear to take it seriously and playing games of oneupmanship with Elvis, dropping names and slapping him down to keep the sanctity of "his" music pure.

It's a fascinating record of country's inherent reaction against the more flexible conventions of rock.

Tags: Almost BlueThe AttractionsThe South Bank ShowITVJohnny CashGram ParsonsCharlie RichDon GibsonGeorge JonesHank WilliamsBilly SherrillNashvilleAberdeenTammy Wynette

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Record Mirror, November 7, 1981

Mike Gardner previews The South Bank Show.


1981-11-07 Record Mirror clipping 01.jpg

1981-11-07 Record Mirror cover.jpg


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