Trouser Press, September 1980

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Trouser Press
TP Collectors' Magazine

US rock magazines


New Amsterdam

Elvis Costello

Jim Green

Elvis Costello: "New Amsterdam" & "Dr. Luther's Assistant" b/w "Ghost Train" & "Just a Memory" — (UK) F-Beat XX5E.

Strange, that: After the ensemble-oriented Get Happy!! rumors abound of estrangement in the Attractions camp (Steve Naive and/or Pete Thomas to leave?) — and now comes the first release since My Aim Is True (apart from odd B-sides like "My Funny Valentine" and "Stranger in the House") not to credit the Attractions. "New Amsterdam" 's three-quarter time, pseudo-baroque keyboard and dry wit render it the ideal LP cut to couple with these new self-produced songs. A single edition (F-Beat XX5) includes only "Dr. Luther's Assistant," a modified shuffle rich with guitars and keyboards that recalls the Beatles' "I'm Only Sleeping" (even down to an odd effect at the end). The EP's got two other sides as well: Costello endows tawdry and mundane scenes with a surreal feel on "Ghost Train," thanks to a striking chorus and haunting signature riff (played on tuba and marimba).

On "Just a Memory" a multi-tracked Costello accompanied by piano and organ, sings "Losing you / Is just a memory / Memories / Don't mean that much to me" with enough feeling to belie the words' face value; it's a rare display of emotional vulnerability. Brilliant as it is, none of this is rock 'n' roll, and none of it depicts the rancorous/paranoid larger-than-life neuroses we've come to know and love EC for; in all but the last track he posits himself more as observer than participant. Still, the artistic tautness remains, if more subtly manifested. (Next LP to be called Two Faces Have I?)

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Trouser Press, No. 54, September 1980

Jim Green review the single for "New Amsterdam."


1980-09-00 Trouser Press page 45.jpg
Page scan.

1980-09-00 Trouser Press cover.jpg


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