University Of Iowa Daily Iowan, February 12, 1981

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Costello redeems new wave tide,
incorporates new ideas into music

T. Johnson

There are those of us who suspect the motives of rock's so-called New Wave. The whole thing came up too quickly, nicely packaged and ready to wear. It smells of hype and fad and a kind of impermanence that would shock even Mark Spitz.

There are, no doubt, New Wave musicians who will be remembered. They will be heard 20 years from now and win new converts. Just as Buddy Holly came out of nowhere to revamp the simple-minded '50s, just as the Beatles saved us from a decade of the Ronettes, someone in New Wave will pop up out of the cake and take over.

The first of those someones seems to be Elvis Costello. In a musical period which has the motto "Don't change the songs, change the titles," Costello has been incorporating new and different elements into his music.

His new album, Trust, has enough more-of-the-same-from-Elvis-C. cuts to sell the record, but he's doing some experimenting, too. He's added some reggae, some ballads. He seems to have realized that the thumpathumpathumpa guitar redundancies upon which most New Wave musicians rely so heavily do not make for easy, long-term listening.

It is very hard to concentrate, for example, through two sides of Dave Edmunds or even early Elvis Costello. It's almost as though the record has a scratch on it, and you just keep hearing the same thing over and over.

Costello has learned about pacing an album. He has his new stuff and he has his old stuff, and just when I thought I was going to have to skip a couple of songs something different, something new and interesting, came rolling out of the box.

I've been known to say that New Wave is nothing more than 1963 with a bad attitude and torn sneakers, and by and large I stand by that. But Costello's latest is changing my opinion; there is at least one serious musician out there. The move-the-product cynicism has not infested this entire generation of musicians.

Tags: Buddy HollyThe BeatlesThe RonettesTrustDave EdmundsCaptain BeefheartLetters to the editor


Daily Iowan, February 12, 1981

T. Johnson reviews Trust.

Reader T. Gessell responds in a subsequent issue.


1981-02-12 University Of Iowa Daily Iowan page 09 clipping 01.jpg

Daily Iowan, February 23, 1981

The quality of DI reviews

T. Gessell

1981-02-23 University Of Iowa Daily Iowan page 04 clipping 01.jpg

To the editor:

Would someone please put T. Johnson out of his misery? He obviously does not enjoy writing music reviews and I don't think it is wise to waste newspaper space on his lack of ideas — someone might take him seriously. In his latest embarrassment — his comments on Elvis Costello's new album, Trust — he claims that New Wave music "came up too quickly, nicely packaged and ready to wear" to be taken as legitimate popular music (DI, Feb. 12). ...

In effect, Johnson claimed that New Wave is nothing but a sham put together by young artists in order to cash in on this year's fashion. Sure, the "move-the-product" attitude can exist in any art form, and it does. But to imply that commercialism prompts people to give up the security of a nine-to-five job or of college is absurd! They do it because they believe in their music! Of course, there are blatant rip-offs that claim to be New Wave musicians; ignore them, they'll go away. If Johnson gets bored listening to the rollicking sounds of Dave Edmunds, he just plain is not listening!

The DI would be better off devoting its record review space to opinions and reviews of local happenings. Was there a review of Captain Beefheart concerts at Gabe's? No, only a piece supposedly written by Johnson which looked to be nothing more than an edited promo package from the captain's manager. And how about the Lamont Cranston Band's shows at the Crow's Nest? Again, no review, and here was one of the Midwest's finest rhythm and blues outfits, with four albums out and a big following in the East. Not to mention the scores of lesser known, but equally appealing acts that perform here every week in Iowa City's various night spots.

T. Gessell

1981-02-12 University Of Iowa Daily Iowan page 09.jpg
Page scan.


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