Posts tagged ‘Elvis Costello’

No Hiding Place

More Elvis Costello, from his 2008 release Momofuku, a shockingly tight record considering I’m pretty sure it was thrown together in a week so he’d have new product on the shelves when he opened for the Police on their final tour.

To me, this is the ultimate “fuck you” song to the internet.

In the not very distant future
When everything will be free
There won’t be any cute secrets
Let alone any novelty

You can say anything you want to
In your fetching cloak of anonymity
Are you feeling out of breath now?
In your desperate pursuit of infamy

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January 15, 2010 at 12:24 pm Leave a comment

High Fidelity

Elvis Costello & The Attractions, “High Fidelity” (1979)

That’s from a 1979 Elvis Costello & the Attractions show \at Lehigh College in Bethlehem, PA. The show was just a month after what’s become known as the “Bramlett incident,” in which Costello drunkenly dropped the n-word referring to Ray Charles in an effort to win a bar argument.

What’s notable about the show is that Costello tried out a few songs later to be included on Get Happy!! his next album. While in the studio, Costello and the Attractions hit upon the concept of framing the arrangements as a tribute/homage to classic soul music; at the time of this show, however, it’s clear he had no such concept in mind.

In its early form, “High Fidelity” loses much of its desperate momentum and instead becomes a heaving, heavy pop punk song that draws a stronger line forward from the sound and style of Armed Forces. You can hear the same vestiges in the gig’s versions of other Get Happy!! songs.

Elvis Costello & The Attractions, “B-Movie (Live)” (1979)

Elvis Costello & The Attractions, “Opportunity (Live)” (1979)

You can also hear a heightened edge of rage in Costello’s attitude throughout the show; clearly his unfortunate words of a month before and the ensuing fallout had left him with a bitter taste about America. He dedicates “Oliver’s Army” to “the bones of all the Redcoats buried around here,” then launches into maybe the most incendiary version of the song I’ve heard, before it became a more comfortable staple of his live act (and before he and the band were sick to death of playing it, I’m sure).

Elvis Costello & The Attractions, “Oliver’s Army (Live)” (1979)

There’s an abundance of high-quality early live EC bootlegs available, as well as the “official bootleg” Live at the El Mocambo, but after this tour there’s a more typical availability–one to two great recordings from each tour, and a slew of audience tapes. This particular show is notable as it captures an artist in a turning point in his career, both in terms of his music and his relationship with his audience.

January 8, 2010 at 10:06 am Leave a comment

Poisoned Letter

Just back from a week-long vacation, during which I ate ice cream EVERY NIGHT and read trashy crime noir novels courtesy of the fine people at Hard Case Crime.

Today, as we all celebrate the birthday of one Mr. Elvis Costello in our own private, spiritual ways, I’m pleased to announce that I’m writing for a new blog with my pal Jeff of Conditional Axe fame. It’s called Poisoned Letter and it’s dedicated to the music of Mr. Costello, one of those song/album blogs where every post is dedicated to examining a tune until you’ve worked your way thru the whole damned catalog.

Our “why we love EC” posts are up now, and more to come, I’m sure. So read! Listen! Enjoy! Fornicate! Whatever.

(And yes, I just posted this exact same thing at one of my other blogs. Like I said: WHATEVER.)

August 25, 2008 at 4:30 pm Leave a comment

Oooh…new Elvis.

It’s called Momofuku, and it’s due from Elvis Costello on April 22.

I’m still enough of an EC fanboy that the news sends a trill up my spine, but I’d be lying if I said any of his output since…well, maybe since Painted from Memory, with Burt Bacharach…has really punched me in the gut. It’s good stuff, and I’ve often come back around to catch songs I missed the first time around, but I rarely if ever spin The Delivery Man, or When I Was Cruel, or The River In Reverse as an album in their entirety, the way I still do with his older back catalog.

I’m also a little pissed at his most recent round of naked reissue greed, and the cynic in me ties the new record solely into his opening slot for the Police this year, instead of any real desire to put out new music. I’m curious if this will feel more like “product” than “art.”

I’ll buy it, though–day one of release, first thing in the morning, and I’ll blast it in the car on the way into work.

March 20, 2008 at 11:43 am 6 comments

Elvis Covers Guffman

A quick shot of non-X-mas music before we get back to the tunes and the pop culture blather…

Christopher Guest, the genius behind all the best mockumentary films of the past two decades, recently received an honorary doctorate of music from Berklee. As part of the tribute, Elvis Costello recorded an acoustic version of “Penny For Your Thoughts,” from Waiting for Guffman.

The Phoenix has video of a couple other performances, including “Big Bottom” performed with 50 bass players. Stunning.

(Thanks to Danno for the info.)

December 12, 2007 at 9:54 am 2 comments


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