Trouser Press, April 1982

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Trouser Press
TP Collectors' Magazine

US rock magazines

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Elvis Costello

Palladium, NYC

Thomas Gabriel

If misgivings or apprehension about paying $29.50 to hear Elvis Costello croon his favorite country classics kept any fans away from this New Year's Eve 45-song, two-set extravaganza, it was decidedly their loss.

The first thing one noticed as Elvis ran out onstage with the Attractions in tow was that he was looking slim again, compared to his bloated appearance on the Trust tour. Whether his weight loss was responsible for a more animated, relaxed performance than last time is anyone's guess, but the difference between then and this year's model was unmistakable.

Costello wisely placed his 10-song sampling from Almost Blue (with guest Doobie Brother John McFee recreating his studio role on steel guitar) at the last half of his first set. The show's pace slackened and Costello's singing — when he remembered the words, which he didn't on "A Good Year for the Roses" — was slower and more deliberate than on the LP, but the audience downshifted easily and at least appeared to enjoy EC's passion for country music.

During the intermission keyboard Attraction Steve Nieve came out and extemporized whimsically on electric piano, signaling the witching hour with "Auld Lang Syne." Now clad in tuxedo and bowtie, Costello wished everyone a happy new year and immediately raced into an all too appropriate "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding." The power, range and precision of the Attractions' playing was simply awesome, particularly Nieve's leading instrumental role.

Showcasing a handful of new tunes ("Pigeon English," and "Human Hands" among them), Mr. Reliable proved, lest anyone remain unconvinced, that past, present and future his aim is still true.

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Trouser Press, No. 72, April 1982


Thomas Gabriel reviews Elvis Costello & The Attractions with John McFee, Thursday, December 31, 1981, Palladium, New York.


Scott Isler reviews Krista Reese's book on Elvis Costello.

Images

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Page scans.


Elvis Costello

Krista Reese

Scott Isler

Would you pay $8.95 for a good Elvis Costello discography and a bunch of photographs? If so, you won't mind that Elvis Costello also comes with a text that almost makes one doubt the irony in its subtitle: A Completely False Biography Based on Rumor, Innuendo and Lies.

Any Costello "biography" has to be something of a joke, of course; the singer is infuriatingly successful at eluding public scrutiny. Even journalists stymied in their interview attempts have to admire how Costello generally dictates to the media rather than vice versa. There have been landmark concessions here and there, and Krista Reese doesn't seem to have missed any in her acknowledgments (actually a bibliography, and Elvis Costello's only other valid contribution). Too bad, then, that she has produced such an overpowering compendium of misinformation, inanities, muddleheaded thinking and downright bad writing.

Open this book to any page and revel in its glories. "The Bay City Rollers play[ed] to the United States's [sic] disco craze" (from a chapter on the rise of new wave — gotta pad a Costello bio with something); "KSAN, the area's leading radio station, interviewed him, and Costello told him his name really was Elvis"; Rolling Stone is "the major American mag"; the Brixton race riots were "a sign of things to come unless Britain accepted the ancestors of the conquered lands of the Empire as the native-born English citizens they were." The force of such observations is cumulative. Elvis Costello must be read to be disbelieved.

When she isn't getting her years wrong, misattributing songs from one Costello album to another or spelling Malcolm McLaren's name two different ways, Reese does sneak in facts taken from other people's articles. Her only flesh-and-blood contact appears to be Jo Marshall, a New York singer with hazy recollections of catching Costello's interest, being flown to London and then dumped unceremoniously.

Reese is obviously a dedicated fan, and there certainly hasn't been a prior Costello biography. This volume, though, raises the question of a publisher's responsibility to the public. What Reese presumes the reader already knows obviates the need for her book. A letter from Costello's manager Jake Riviera (reproduced as an introduction, and the only wit between the covers) states he "will do everything in my power to prevent you from writing a book about Elvis Costello." For once, our sympathies are with Jake.



1982-04-00 Trouser Press cover.jpg 1982-04-00 Trouser Press page 42.jpg
Cover and page scan.

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