Thursday, July 25, 2013

Elvis Costello This Year's Model 1978

Here's something I like. I had to buy it twice, import and domestic, when it was originally  released. The UK version, which came out two months before the US release, included I Don't Want To Go To Chelsea and Night Rally, both omitted from the US version. I mean, I Don't Want To Go To Chelsea is maybe the best song on the whole record, and every song is better than the last.

It was Costello's second, but his first with The Attractions. Clover did a swell job backing him on My Aim Is True, and it's an amazing debut. But there is real magic in The Attractions for Costello, and they form a tight group, highly and deeply in tune with each other, Costello's songwriting, and the open anger he is so very good at. He spits out the ballads and snarls through the rockers, while the band plays relentlessly.

Some artists make their first record and then have a hard time writing enough new songs for the second, especially back when most artists released a record almost every year. Elvis Costello did not have any sophomore slump. None. Zero, zip, zilch. The songs on This Year's Model rank among his best.

The Attractions are on fire on every song. Steve Nieve's reedy, thin Farfisa-like organ and Bruce Thomas's bass are a unique combination that bolsters Costello's solid guitar. Bruce Thomas is a seriously hot drummer, and he's in a hurry, always pushing the songs forcefully forward. This band stayed together for eight years, and they did mostly great music during that time, but they arguably never sounded better than this.

I could describe how good this or that song is, or quote some of the venomous lyrics. Costello's wordplay is consistently strong, and the songs are filled with angry observations of stylish, vapid women. But by now you either have heard it or you haven't. If you haven't, it's fast hard pop-rock with a side of punk sass. It is intelligently delivered anger. It is great songs, a great band, and an excellent Nick Lowe production. It is one of Costello's best, even if there are quite a few of them. Turn it up.

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