Costello is a singer/songwriter/guitarist from Middlesex, England, whose voice and topflight brand of what might best be called revivalist R&B invite comparison with Graham Parker.
"If there's a general musical area that he's working in, then I accept that I'm working in a similar area and the comparison is validly drawn. And I'd rather be compared to Graham Parker than Tom Jones," Costello told Allan Jones of England's Melody Maker magazine.
Costello, who is in his early 20s, was quick to add, "It's better to be compared to somebody good; but it still doesn't mean that I sit at home trying to think of ways to rewrite songs from Heat Treatment (a Parker LP).
"Anyway, if I'd had a record out before Graham Parker, it would all be reversed... cause, you know, the people who're saying that I sound like Graham Parker are the same people who said that Graham Parker sounded like Bruce Springsteen, who are the same people who said that Bruce Springsteen sounded like Van Morrison, who are the same people who said that Van Morrison sounded the same as Bobby Bland or whoever."
My Aim Is True is Costello's first album and one of the standout LPs of 1977. Most of the tracks are under three minutes and the instrumentation is sparse (drums, keyboard, bass and Costello's guitar). The songs are mainly of the lover and loser variety and are instantly memorable, as is the case with most great rock 'n' roll tunes. Costello's lyrics are compact — he deliberately shuns the sometimes flowery romanticism that Springsteen espouses — and often brilliant. For instance, he sings: "I said, 'I'm so happy I could die' / She said, 'Drop dead,' and left with another guy."
Costello's given name was Declan. He changed it long before Elvis Presley's death. Ask Costello why he made the change and he will answer. "Why not?"
Costello has been writing songs for eight years. Before devoting all of his time to rock 'n' roll, he worked as, among other things, a computer operator in an Elizabeth Arden cosmetics plant. One of his songs includes the line: "Working all day in a vanity factory."
Like the best of rock 'n' rollers, Costello sings with fiery passion and is in complete command of his craft. His concert performances, as evidenced by the one last Tuesday at Four Acres in Marcy, are livelier than his record, and that's quite an accomplishment.