Writing an introduction to an Elvis Costello discography is almost as pointless as the discography itself. I mean, let's face it. The way Mr. C. puts out records, it'll be out of date in only another month or so, right? But what the hell, guys, we'll give it a run for the money (clean, that is) anyway!
Anybody can have a large output of records. In fact, many artists do. But (and this is the difference!), how much of the stuff is worth listening to, much less collecting? Also, a lot of people take 1 to 3 years (mostly dinosaurs, if you get my drift) between LP's and/or singles. Sometimes it isn't even worth the wait — you better you bet, indeed! Anyway, let me get to my point, which is — in roughly 5 years, old Elvis himself has spawned 5 studio elpees, 1 compilation, fistfuls of singles and various guest appearances with other artists. I'm not even going to begin to touch the bootlegs here either. The guys can handle that stuff in a page or two. I'm just gonna blab off a little more.
Now, with that much recorded output, one might imagine a few rarities would surface. Well, if Elvis aims to please, then I would say his aim is true because there's enough collectable non-sense to satisfy even the most neurotic collectors. Plus (and for me, this is the bottom line), all the stuff is worth a lot more than a couple of listenings. I mean, even if once in a while the song isn't so hot, the Attractions play with more than enough verve and energy to go the distance. But for now, a little background before my time is up.
In 1977 the bespectacled Declan MacManus (Elvis to you) was finally signed up by Jake Riviera of Stiff Records after unsuccessfully petitioning all other companies for a couple of years. This resulted in 1 album and 4 singles before Jake, Elvis, and the infamous Nick Lowe (El's producer as if you didn't know — and if you didn't know, stop reading right here) split to Radar Records. Here they lasted a few more singles and a couple of more LP's before WEA bought out Radar. This entitled Warner Bros. in the U.S. of A. to release Radar material. However, Nick Lowe and Elvis were already under contract with Columbia for US releases which in turn led to a few rows between Warners and Radar. In the meantime, Jake Riviera said that the dynamic duo were under contract to his own company, and he had leased the rights to Radar on an album-to-album basis. Finally, Jake and Andrew Lauder (late of Radar) said the hell with it and formed a new bundle of joy to be christened F Beat. In the interim they let Elvis release his single on the Specials' 2 Tone label (El produced their first LP) as a one-off release.
The single, "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down", was pressed, but 2 Tone didn't have the facilities for a quick release. To make a long story short, a court injunction was taken out to prevent the 45 from being issued. When the legal smoke cleared, the record came out on F Beat and eventually most of the 2 Tone singles were given away at Costello performances. Elvis also sold some at $3 a throw during the 1981 American tour.
Since then, Elvis has remained on F Beat with the usual flood of albums and singles. He's made the occasional foray into production too, lately for Squeeze, who were themselves managed by Riviera for a short time. El also found time away from his writing frenzy to play on a George Jones LP and pay TV special.
Now you can cut out the following soon-to-be-out-of-date discography put together through the efforts of Keith Sluchansky, Steve Kolanjian, John Villanova, and Mike Rapsis, paste it on the wall, and start scribbling in the additions. I can't wait to start!