Sydney Morning Herald, October 13, 1986

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Angry lyrics reflect British mood

Lynden Barber


Like Byrne, Elvis Costello is one of the few graduates of the Class of '77 to have continued making consistently interesting records, though, for this writer much of his 80s work has been too self-conscious in its trawl for critical approval. But not any more. In the Thatcher era much British music has either sounded dolorously uninspired or desperately shallow, but since the Westland Affair the mood of UK politics would appear to have shifted, creating a more optimistic environment.

The Nick Lowe-produced and Attractions-backed Blood And Chocolate seems to reflect this. It's a startlingly angry manifesto that returns to the rawness of Costello's early work, adding lashings of raucousness and paranoia that bring to mind the Velvet Underground and even Can. "Tokyo Storm Warning" is like Highway 61-period Dylan updated for the 80s, and "I Want You" (not the Dylan song) an obsessive litany of despair. Bitter, scarred but fighting, English music hasn't sounded this vital for ages.

I'd guess Elvis's new mood has also partly been inspired by Ulster's That Petrol Emotion, whose scorching debut LP (a couple of months old but so far ignored by local reviewers) is on the Costello-owned Demon label.


Sydney Morning Herald, The Guide, October 13, 1986

Lynden Barber reviews Talking Heads' True Stones, Blood & Chocolate, and That Petrol Emotion's Manic Pop Thrill.


1986-10-13 Sydney Morning Herald The Guide page 05.jpg
Page scan.


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