Articles Tagged: Elvis Costello

Certain Songs #412: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “Tokyo Storm Warning”

tokyo storm warning Album: Blood & Chocolate
Year: 1986

After the relative low-key King of America, Elvis reunited with The Attractions, stuck Nick Lowe in the producer’s seat and finally made the musical sequel to This Year’s Model that nobody was really looking for anymore.

Well, kinda. Whereas This Years Model was tight and focused, the best songs on Blood and Chocolate were loose and sprawling, full of fucked up guitar sounds, crazy vocal interjections and surprises around every corner.

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Certain Songs #411: The Costello Show – “Suit of Lights”

Elvis King of America Album: King of America
Year: 1986

King of America was supposed to be half recorded with The Attractions and half recorded with The Confederates, the crack backing band that T-Bone Burnett rustled up for him early in 1985.

But things weren’t working out with The Attractions, as too many years too close together were finally taking their toll musically and emotionally.

That is, except for “Suit of Lights,” the folk-rock masterpiece that is the one recording with The Attractions that actually made it on King of America.

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Certain Songs #410: The Costello Show – “Brilliant Mistake”

Elvis King of America Album: King of America
Year: 1986

After the insanely prolific first five years of Elvis Costello’s recording career, eventually something had to give, and it turned out that something was quality control, as he followed up Imperial Bedroom with a pair of relative duds, signified by the titles he gave them.

1983’s Punch The Clock was shrill and full of uninteresting horns, though it gave him his first ever U.S. Top 40 hit with the cloying “Everyday I Write The Book,” and is probably worth me revisiting at some point. And Goodbye Cruel World was just dull.

So Elvis did two things: he took a year off, and he started recording again without The Attractions. The result was the stunning King of America, the first of two records that made 1986 arguably the best year of his career.

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Certain Songs #409: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “Man Out of Time”

Elvis Imperial Bedroom Album: Imperial Bedroom
Year: 1982

Welcome to my favorite Elvis Costello song.

From the crazy, tacked-on screamo intro & outro to the ridiculously gorgeous folk-rock middle, “Man Out Of Time” is an absolute master class in making a haunting, lyrical, utterly major song.

And not surprisingly, it’s Elvis Costello & The Attractions aiming for that Blonde on Blonde thin wild mercury sound, and totally nailing it. “Man Out Of Time” could go toe-to-toe with “Just Like Tom Thumbs Blues” or “(One of Us Know) Sooner Or Later” and land a fair amount of punches.

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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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