Archive | December, 2015

Certain Songs #408: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “Beyond Belief”

Elvis Imperial Bedroom Album: Imperial Bedroom
Year: 1982

“Masterpiece?” adverted Columbia Records marketing department when Imperial Bedroom appeared, a provocation along the same lines as Epic Records declaring The Clash “The Only Band That Matters” way back in 1980.

My gut reaction then as now was “no.” Imperial Bedroom is the sound of Elvis Costello overthinking things, which — given how fucking smart he is — is kind of a surprise that it didn’t happen more often.

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Certain Songs #407: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “New Lace Sleeves”

elvis trust Album: Trust
Year: 1981

Some songs sneak up on you. They take days, weeks, months, years to reveal themselves to you. In the case of “New Lace Sleeves,” it took almost 35 years.

I literally didn’t realize how much I loved it until last week. In terms of songs from Trust, I always knew that I would post “Strict Time,” but I figured I’d go with “Clubland” or “From a Whisper to a Scream,” and while those last two are great songs, “New Lace Sleeves” is the one I realized I loved the most.

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Certain Songs #406: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “Strict Time”

elvis trust Album: Trust
Year: 1981

Coming in between the genre exercises of Get Happy!! and Almost Blue (not to mention the 20 song odds and sods Taking Liberties), even at the time Trust seemed to be a victim of Costello’s almost unprecedented prolificness.

It was all too much to digest. Of course, with the benefit of 35 years, it’s clear that Trust is one of his most consistently excellent albums, and and is weirdly underrated because its basically the only album of his early period not to have a musical framing device.

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Certain Songs #405: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “Riot Act”

Elvis_Costello_-_Get_Happy!! (1) Album: Get Happy!! Year: 1980

Did I say that there weren’t any titanic songs on Get Happy!!? Well, I exaggerated to make a point. Because “Riot Act” has always been one of my all-time favorite Elvis Costello songs.

Even before I found out what it was all about 30+ years after the fact. Which was, of course, the infamous incident where his drunkenly private use of a forbidden word in order to piss people off backfired when they went to the press.

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Certain Songs #404: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “New Amsterdam”

Elvis_Costello_-_Get_Happy!! (1) Album: Get Happy!! Year: 1980

So I have two kinds of favorite albums, one of which is easy for a project like this, and the other that isn’t. While “Certain Songs” is song-oriented (duh), I soon realized that it was also a way to highlight my favorite albums.

For example, by posting four songs from This Year’s Model, I was also implying just how much I love it (#17 on my list of favorite albums from the 1970s), but when it comes to Get Happy!! things aren’t so easy.

And here’s why.

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