If you laughed at Elton John in his pink suits and sunglasses, and you thought David Bowie was wierd just because he had orange hair, wait until you see Elvis Costello.
He is probably the strangest looking rocker to burst out of Britain in the Seventies, and that's really saying something. He resembles a cross between a punk Buddy Holly and a bank accountant, which is exactly what he was before he traded in his bank ledgers for a guitar.
Since Costello released his first album, My Aim Is True, in late 1977 there have been favorable articles written about him in several major magazines, including Rolling Stone and Creem. He is currently touring the United States and has appeared on NBC's Saturday Night Live show where he came across as a talented, but disturbed, accountant with a nervous disorder. So what exactly is the attraction here?
Elvis Costello has an ear for good music, the ability to write sharp, direct lyrics and, something that most musicians lack today, a sense of humor. The music on My Aim Is True is straight back-to-the roots rock n' roll. Costello's voice is strikingly similar to Southside Johnny's, and he sings with a heartfelt passion throughout the album.
The trials of adolescence is one theme that is dealt with in several songs on the album. On "Less Than Zero" Costello, who is somewhere in his early twenties, brilliantly describes the uncertainties and insecurities of the teenager. "Mystery Dance," which sounds like a re-make of the other Elvis' "Jailhouse Rock," is the story of a confused youth who begs to be told about the ancient, hidden secrets of copulation. The song ends and the boy still hasn't figured it out.
On "Alison," the only slow song on the album, we finally hear an honest opinion on past love. Costello looks at Alison, a former girlfriend who is now married with bitter feelings and a tinge of jealousy. He expresses his desire to have someone "Put out the big light" on her and then he claims that his "aim is true."
Several other songs: "Watching The Detectives," "Miracle Man," and "(The Angels Wanna Wear my) Red Shoes" etc., cannot really be summed up and they should be heard to be appreciated.
There have been many groups that have become big "stars" after the release of one album and their subsequent albums pale in comparison. I hope this doesn't happen to Elvis Costello. His first album is very good, not excellent, but maybe with time and experience he, too, will become a star. He certainly seems to have the talent and the potential.