Elvis Costello defined a lot of what I both like and value in music. Thought I should get that out of the way early.
I bought other bands/acts/artists before I heard him, and I gave up on his career long before he did – and for frankly stupid reasons – but, at least since high school, I have never not owned a at least one Elvis Costello album, and I have most of them in a minimum of two formats.
Those two thoughts seem related.
To pull a thread on a thread in the second paragraph, I have owned an album by Elvis Costello & The Attractions since high school. And that’s what this volume will focus on: Elvis Costello & The Attractions. And with only one, small cheat. Just My Aim Is True. It’s clean after that, promise. Elvis Costello put out some great albums with The Attractions – before, as he notes in his autobiography, they started playing “in spite of each other, or even to spite each other” – Armed Forces, This Year’s Model, and Imperial Bedroom, the album he hinted might have been the band’s peak.
I posted a playlist – one in the “Judge My Playlist” series – titled “The Toast of Elvis Costello.” Like a lot of the stuff I burned onto a CD, my selection included personal favorites as well as songs I worried about forgetting – e.g., “Uncomplicated,” “Riot Act,” and “Shipbuilding” – the latter because it’s on the only one of their albums that I simply don’t care for (Punch the Clock; then again, that one has what was probably his all-time best pop song, “Every Day I Write the Book”). That doesn’t mean they’re not good songs – or great ones, even – so much as it means you just don’t hear those songs unless you get off your ass and play ‘em. Then again, I don’t have a great perspective on where Elvis Costello fits into the popular culture, especially with both he and his fans getting old. For instance, what cross-section of the population would hear “Oliver’s Army (of which...some regrettable choices in that video), ” “Radio Radio” (and the famous moment when he went off-script on SNL) or “Pump It Up” and know who played it?