Tuscaloosa News, March 14, 2003

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Elvis Costello worthy of Hall of Fame


Mark Hughes Cobb

Well, this isn't quite up there with the first time I'd seen all the Oscar-nominated pictures, or the time I'd seen at least two of the Tony-nominated shows, but I've seen at least two of this year's Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame inductees live.

A mini-British invasion took over the 18th Rock Hall induction ceremony Monday, to be broadcast Sunday on VH1.

Alongside the all-American Righteous Brothers, inductees included The Clash, AC/DC, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, and The Police.

Back in the day, I saw both Elvis (with the Attractions) and The Police.

Elvis was amazing. I would have gladly traded The Police ticket for a chance at The Clash. Or a poster from a Clash show. Ora piece of gum off the shoe of someone who had slam-danced at a Clash show.

The Police played the Bama Theatre back in 1979, in one of those shows that really held about 150 people, but over years of legend-gathering has become a 20,000-seat arena show, according to everyone who claims to have been there.

I was clued in to The Police by a friend who was somewhat musically hipper. He worked the midnight-6 a.m. weekend shift at WTBC, a traditionally wide-open slot, because no one but us chickens was listening.

Many is the night this fellow — he shall go nameless, but let's call him Chip — stumbled straight from a bucket of Derailers at the Sidetrack into his shift. You'd know it was bad when he'd put on a cart (tape) of "Free Bird" (live), "Do You Feel Like We Do" (live) and "Roundabout," which gave him about 30 minutes to take a nap or visit the facilities.

Anyway, he played "Roxanne," which I thought mildly interesting, if even paler than Eric Clapton's stabs at reggae (even white boys in Tuscaloosa had heard Bob Marley by then), and tickets were cheap, so we went.

It was probably the dullest show I've ever had the misfortune to attend, and I'm speaking as someone who enjoys a rousing tuba ensemble.

Maybe because they had so little material — or because they self-consciously realized how thin that pseudo-intellectual garbage was — the show was little but extended jams. Andy Summers, one of the most overrated guitarists ever, whanged endlessly on some effects pedal or another, then stood there nodding as if he was a 13-year-old visiting his first music store.

Don't get me started on that Sting drone, which still makes my dogs howl, even though I didn't own dogs, and they weren't at the show, and I've never owned a Police record.

But Elvis, man; now that was a hall-of-fame show. This was at Brothers Music Hall, the late lamented Birmingham hot spot where I also saw The Ramones and Warren Zevon (with full band), just after the 1979 release of Armed Forces.

Elvis and the Attractions packed the house, rucking out a tight 90-minute set of nearly everything, then came back for two encores (which he apparently rarely did at the time), the sublimities "Watching the Detectives" and "Mystery Dance."

So Sunday's VH1 show should be quite the treat. The Clash couldn't reunite, obviously, with Joe Strummer passing last year, but the Righteous Brothers are still crooning, and most of the Attractions (minus a bass player) will join Elvis.

So the only downhill is that the clownish AC/DC sold enough records to join this august company, and that I'll have to make sure my dogs, which I don't have, are outdoors before Der Sting begins to whine, which he will.

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The Tuscaloosa News, March 14, 2003


Mark Hughes Cobb's preview of the Hall Of Fame induction broadcast includes a brief report on the Elvis Costello & The Attractions concert, Thursday, March 1, 1979, Brothers Music Hall, Birmingham, AL,

Images

2003-03-14 Tuscaloosa News page 2D clipping 01.jpg
Clipping.

2003-03-14 Tuscaloosa News page 2D.jpg
Page scan.

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