Watching The Detectives

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Nice girls not one with a defect,
cellophane shrink-wrapped, so correct.
Red dogs under illegal legs.
She looks so good that he gets down and begs.

She is watching the detectives.
"ooh, he's so cute!"
She is watching the detectives
when they shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot.
They beat him up until the teardrops start,
but he can't be wounded 'cause he's got no heart.

Long shot of that jumping sign,
Visible shivers running down my spine.
Cut the baby taking off her clothes.
Close-up of the sign that says,"We never close"
You snatch a tune, you match a cigarette,
She pulls the eyes out with a face like a magnet.
I don't know how much more of this I can take.
She's filing her nails while they're dragging the lake.

Chorus

You think you're alone until you realize you're in it.
Now fear is here to stay. Love is here for a visit.
They call it instant justice when it's past the legal limit.
Someone's scratching at the window. I wonder who is it?
The detectives come to check if you belong to the parents
who are ready to hear the worst about their daughter's disappearance.
Though it nearly took a miracle to get you to stay,
it only took my little fingers to blow you away.

Just like watching the detectives.
Don't get cute!"
It's just like watching the detectives.
I get so angry when the teardrops start,
but he can't be wounded 'cause he's got no heart.
Watching the detectives.
It's just like watching the detectives.

Watching The Detectives
Written byElvis Costello
Performed byElvis Costello
Produced byNick Lowe
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocals, guitar
Andrew Bodnar - bass
Steve Goulding - drums
Steve Nieve - organ & piano overdubs
RecordedMay-June 1977, Pathway Studios, London
ReleasedOctober 14, 1977
AlbumsMy Aim Is True, 1977 (not on original release in UK, Belgium & Portugal)
Viva England, 1982 (Spain)
This Year's Model, 1978 (Belgium, France, Germany, Japan, Sweden & Australia only; mastered slightly fast)
SinglesWatching The Detectives, 1977 (some copies have edited version)
Less Than Zero, 1985 (12" single; edited version)
CollectionsTen Bloody Marys & Ten How's Your Fathers, 1980
Stiff Box Set No. 2, 1981
The Best Of Elvis Costello & The Attractions, 1985
The Man (The Best Of Elvis Costello), 1985
Girls Girls Girls, 1989
2½ Years, 1993
The Very Best Of Elvis Costello & The Attractions, 1994
The Very Best Of Elvis Costello, 1999
Singles, Volume 1, 2003
The Best Of Elvis Costello The First 10 Years, 2007
Unfaithful Music & Soundtrack Album, 2015
SoundtracksThat Summer!, 1979
The Last Of The High Kings, 1996
The Grimleys, 2001
Various Artists collectionsSharp (16 Sharp New Rock Acts), 1979 (Netherlands; mastered slightly fast)
New Wave Disco d'Ouro, 1981 (Portugal)
The History Of Rock: Vol. 39, 1986
The Stiff Records Box Set, 1992
Three Minute Heroes: 20 Of The Finest Punk & New Wave Singles, 1992
The Rolling Stone Collection: 25 Years of Essential Rock, 1993
Start: The Best Of British, 1994
Was Het Nu 70 Of 80?, 1996
A Hard Night's Day, 1997
Ultimate New Wave Hits, 1997
Modern Rock: Lost Hits Of The '70s, 2002
Teenage Kicks, 2002
Crimebusters & Crossed Wires: Stories from This American Life, 2003
Absolute Rock Classics Vol. 3, 2003
Borders Rock Essentials Volume 2, 2004
Steve Wright In The Afternoon: The Oldies, 2004
Born Stiff, 2010
Promos4 Track Sampler From My Aim Is True, 1977
Excerpts From Stiff's Greatest Hits, 1978 (excerpt)
Stiff Fourplay, 1978
Our Aim Is True, 1978
Timothy White's Rock Stars, 1989
2½ Years (In 31 Minutes), 1993
Selections From My Aim Is True, Spike And All This Useless Beauty, 2001
UK Elvis Costello, 2002
Length3:45 (most releases)
3:06 (edited version)

First known performance:
July 21, 1977, Manchester, England
Last known performance:
Template:2017
     (1674 known performances, 2 as a snippet)


Alternate versions

Watching The Detectives (A Demo Version)
Performed byElvis Costello & The Attractions
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocal, guitar
Steve Nieve - keyboards
Bruce Thomas - bass
Pete Thomas - drums
RecordedAugust 2, 1977, Liverpool, England
Released1986
Various Artists collectionsNME Pogo A Go Go, 1986 (cassette only)
Length4:28

Watching The Detectives (Live 1977)
Performed byElvis Costello & The Attractions
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocal, guitar
Steve Nieve - keyboards
Bruce Thomas - bass
Pete Thomas - drums
RecordedAugust 7, 1977, London, England
ReleasedSeptember 11, 2007
AlbumsMy Aim Is True: Deluxe Edition, 2007
Length4:23

Watching The Detectives (Live 1978 - Washington)
Performed byElvis Costello & The Attractions
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocal, guitar
Steve Nieve - keyboards
Bruce Thomas - bass
Pete Thomas - drums
RecordedFebruary 28, 1978, Washington, DC
ReleasedMarch 4, 2008
AlbumsThis Year's Model: Deluxe Edition, 2008
Length6:01

Watching The Detectives (Live 1978 - Toronto)
Performed byElvis Costello & The Attractions
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocal, guitar
Steve Nieve - keyboards
Bruce Thomas - bass
Pete Thomas - drums
RecordedMarch 6, 1978, Toronto, ON, Canada
Released1978 (promo-only release)
October 15, 1993 (commercial release)
AlbumsLive At The El Mocambo, 1978
Collections2½ Years, 1993
Length5:48

Watching The Detectives (Live 1978 - Los Angeles)
Performed byElvis Costello
Produced byNick Lowe
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocal, guitar
Steve Nieve - keyboards
Bruce Thomas - bass
Pete Thomas - drums
RecordedJune 4, 1978, Los Angeles, CA
ReleasedJanuary 5, 1979
AlbumsArmed Forces (Rykodisc/Demon reissue), 1993
Armed Forces (Rhino/Edsel reissue), 2002
SinglesLive At Hollywood High (bonus single with Armed Forces LP), 1979
Collections2½ Years, 1993
Length5:51

Watching The Detectives (Live 1979 - Paris)
Performed byElvis Costello & The Attractions
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocal, guitar
Steve Nieve - keyboards
Bruce Thomas - bass
Pete Thomas - drums
RecordedJune 1, 1979, Paris, France
ReleasedOct 5, 2010
VideosChorus, 2010

Watching The Detectives (Live 1996)
Performed byCostello & Nieve
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocal, guitar
Steve Nieve - keyboards
RecordedMay 18, 1996, Chicago, IL
ReleasedDecember 3, 1996
AlbumsCostello & Nieve, 1996
PromosLive At The Park West, Chicago, 1996
Acoustic Cafe, 1997
Length6:09

Watching The Detectives / My Funny Valentine (Live in Tokyo)
Performed byElvis Costello & The Imposters
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocal, guitar
Steve Nieve - keyboards
Davey Faragher - bass
Pete Thomas - drums
RecordedJuly 5, 2002, Tokyo, Japan
ReleasedSeptember 23, 2002
AlbumsWhen I Was Cruel - Collectors Edition, 2002
Cruel Smile, 2002
PromosSunday Times CD, 2002 (fades out before the 'Funny Valentine' part)
Length7:09

Watching The Detectives (Live 2004)
Performed byElvis Costello with The Metropole Orkest
Produced byGert-Jan van den Dolder
Arranged byElvis Costello (adapted by Joan Reinders)
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocal
Steve Nieve - piano
The Metropole Orkest
Vince Mendoza - conductor
Ruud Breuls - trumpet solo
Bart van Lier - trombone solo
Marc Scholten - alto saxophone solo
RecordedJuly 9, 2004, The Hague, Netherlands
ReleasedJanuary 13, 2006
AlbumsMy Flame Burns Blue, 2006
PromosMy Flame Burns Blue, 2006 -
Length5:23

Watching The Detectives (Live 2006)
Performed byElvis Costello
featuring The Imposters, Anthony "AB" Brown & The Crescent City Horns
Horn arrangementElvis Costello (four-part reduction by Chris Walden)
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocal, guitar
Steve Nieve - keyboards
Davey Faragher - bass, backing vocal
Pete Thomas - drums
Anthony "AB" Brown - guitar
Amadee Castenell - saxophone
Brian "Breeze" Cayolle - saxophone
Joe "Foxx" Smith - trumpet
Sam "Big Sam" Williams - trombone
RecordedJuly 3, 2006, Montreal, QC, Canada
ReleasedDecember 5, 2006
VideosHot As A Pistol, Keen As A Blade, 2006
Single: Watching The DetectivesWatching The Detectives UK 7" single front sleeve.jpg

My Aim Is TrueMAIT UK initial album cover large.jpg

This Year's ModelTYM swedish album cover large.jpg

Live At The El MocamboLive At The El Mocambo album cover.jpg

Single: Live At Hollywood HighAflhh.jpg

Ten Bloody Marys & Ten How's Your Fathers10BM album cover 280.jpg

The Best Of Elvis Costello & The AttractionsBOEC album cover 200.jpg

The Man (The Best Of Elvis Costello)TMBOEC album cover 170.jpg

Single: Less Than ZeroLTZ Stiff 12inch.jpg

NME Pogo A Go GoPogo cassette cover med.jpg

Girls Girls GirlsGGG album cover 300.jpg

Armed ForcesArmed Forces Rykodisc album cover.jpg

2½ Years2½ Years album cover.jpg

The Very Best Of Elvis Costello & The Attractions, 1994The Very Best Of Elvis Costello And The Attractions album cover.jpg

Costello & NieveCostello & Nieve album cover.jpg

The Very Best Of Elvis Costello, 1999The Very Best Of Elvis Costello (2CD) album cover.jpg

When I Was Cruel - Collectors EditionWhen I Was Cruel Collectors Edition album cover.jpg

Cruel Smile2002 Cruel Smile Album small.jpg

Sunday Times CDSunday Times CD.jpg

Singles, Volume 1Singles Volume 1 album cover.jpg

Hot As A Pistol, Keen As A BladeHot As A Pistol Keen As A Blade DVD cover.jpg

My Flame Burns BlueMy Flame Burns Blue album cover.jpg

This Year's ModelTYM album cover large.jpg

The Best Of Elvis Costello The First 10 YearsThe Best Of Elvis Costello The First 10 Years album cover.jpg

Unfaithful Music & Soundtrack AlbumUnfaithful Music & Soundtrack Album album cover.jpg

Covers

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