The Face, June 1980

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The Face

UK & Ireland magazines


New Amsterdam

Elvis Costello

Julie Burchill

Although Elvis Costello supposedly deals in "uneasy listening," he's waltzed very smoothly from singing about Chelsea, London, to New York City — two names off the back of perfume bottles if ever I heard any. Why doesn't he sing about places that jar the ghost of the good-life myth — why doesn't he write songs called "Scunthorpe" or "Hull"?

Because he wouldn't dare; despite his tantrums, Costello makes his living off of the world (model girls, America, drugs) that Jackie Collins makes her's off of, albeit in a more gross, more honest form. And examine your own preoccupations and concerns; would you admire "New Amsterdam" so much if it was called "Penge"? Despite his carping, Costello stands in awe of the Pools-lifestyle.

Still, "New Amsterdam" is brilliant, rivetting, it has the class of a Saul Bass and the pathos of Pathe — whew, what else can one say about it? How about — it's a shame that Costello's such a creepy little geek with no sex appeal. Don't say it don't matter; the Elvis he named himself after never had a thought in his stupid head, but he'll always be remembered because he was LARGER THAN LIFE. He was epic. Epic is what's remembered, and epic is what Costello wants to be, which is why he writes songs like "New Amsterdam" — a would-be epic if ever I heard one.

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The Face, No. 2, June 1980

Julie Burchill reviews the single for "New Amsterdam."


1980-06-00 The Face page 34.jpg
Page scan.

1980-06-00 The Face cover.jpg


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