Author Topic: ET & Elvis Costello Have a Cup of Coffee (or Two)  (Read 6262 times)

Eric/E.T.

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ET & Elvis Costello Have a Cup of Coffee (or Two)
« on: May 02, 2020, 11:11:09 PM »
ET & Elvis Costello Have a Cup of Coffee (or Two)



Time to properly go through the 30 studio albums Elvis Costello has released (thus far). This is a project I've been contemplating for years, and now is the time. His catalog spans from 1977-the present, with the last release having come with 2018's Look Now. The plan is to listen to roughly one album per day, including revisiting favorite tracks and reading up a little on the album within that day, and then post a small reaction. I listen to a lot of music, and his albums aren't particularly long, so it's more than doable. After I've listened and reacted to each album, I will write-up a final report card including album ratings. That's the basic course of action

Explore roughly 1 album per day in order of album release date
27 albums, 27 reactions (no ratings)
Report card and key tracks at the end

I know we have some Costello fans here, as well as people just generally knowledgeable about music, so I hope you will also add your thoughts with mine. Might even get you to throw on a little Costello yourselves! On with the show...
« Last Edit: May 26, 2020, 03:29:04 PM by etdoesgood »
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Knocked Out Loaded

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Re: ET & Elvis Costello Have a Cup of Coffee (or Two)
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2020, 02:50:51 AM »
I will follow the shit out of this thread. :)
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St. Martin the Bald

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Re: ET & Elvis Costello Have a Cup of Coffee (or Two)
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2020, 03:00:21 AM »
Itís interesting because Iíve been reading his catalogue lately.
Iím down for a deep dive of EC.
Heís mentored a new band thatís been on my radar: Larkin Poe, so Iíd even be into delving into his current works as well. Iíll be honest I usually stop around Spike so this will be fun!
Whatís the game plan?
Chronological?
Hey, nice marmot!

jdc

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Re: ET & Elvis Costello Have a Cup of Coffee (or Two)
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2020, 03:22:29 AM »
Itís interesting because Iíve been reading his catalogue lately.
Iím down for a deep dive of EC.
Heís mentored a new band thatís been on my radar: Larkin Poe, so Iíd even be into delving into his current works as well. Iíll be honest I usually stop around Spike so this will be fun!
Whatís the game plan?
Chronological?

Larkin Poe are great. I managed to catch them live at the F1 last year. 

Looking forward to this thread. It takes a while for an album to really sink in for me, I am not sure I can really appreciate most albums having just listen to them for 1 day though, especially when it comes to appreciating the deep cuts and maybe not the "hit song" or two.
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Eric/E.T.

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Re: ET & Elvis Costello Have a Cup of Coffee (or Two)
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2020, 03:48:19 AM »
Itís interesting because Iíve been reading his catalogue lately.
Iím down for a deep dive of EC.
Heís mentored a new band thatís been on my radar: Larkin Poe, so Iíd even be into delving into his current works as well. Iíll be honest I usually stop around Spike so this will be fun!
Whatís the game plan?
Chronological?

Yeah, chronological, and will start posting tomorrow. I've listened to My Aim is True a couple times through in the last several hours, but with all the movie writing tonight I won't anything any justice without sleep.

Just background, I'm not brand new to Costello, but have only really listened to his early works, My Aim is True to Get Happy!! I get the "reading" the catalog so much, a big reason I want to do this is because of his writing. I think I will come to grips better with his music because his it's not a style to which I'm totally prone - at least the style from the late 70's/early 80's isn't - but I'm expecting some personal breakthroughs with that. In fact, I think the importance of Costello on a personal level is something I expect, though I'm also good at admitting when my expectations were off the mark. (Basically, I think I can evaluate his work from a neutral standpoint, but expect to be thrilled.)

Looking forward to this thread. It takes a while for an album to really sink in for me, I am not sure I can really appreciate most albums having just listen to them for 1 day though, especially when it comes to appreciating the deep cuts and maybe not the "hit song" or two.

I also agree that music needs to be lived with, at least a little while. Even when I wrote a lot about music, I had to drive around with the CD spinning, play it at home sober, play it at home after a drink, play it with a friend, sing along, etc. That's why I'm not going to rate them immediately, more just react. The ones I really like will end up in my rotation anyway, so I expect a somewhat organic process. I also don't drink and hangout at much, so Costello comes to an ET in a different context than the college/post-grad aughts. The latter albums may not get as much run just because they're the latter albums, so I might wait a week or two at least to give a final analysis and evaluation. We'll see, I want to get it right.
A witty saying proves nothing. - Voltaire

Eric/E.T.

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Re: ET & Elvis Costello Have a Cup of Coffee (or Two)
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2020, 02:20:25 PM »
Costello #1: My Aim Is True (1977)

Costello binged The Clash and brought a little something different to punk. His debut, My Aim Is True, is a succinct, concentrated expression of new rock and punk rock sensibilities. The opener, Welcome to the Working Week, covers a lot of bases. It's efficient, just using a few chords, introduces a bit of true harmony, and thematically mocks the punching-the-clock life of produce-and-consume. There is a persistent energy and excitement that continues throughout, with the exception of the slowdown for Alison, which I thought was kind of a sappy love song at first until I started contemplating (and singing along with) the line "My aim is true." When it comes to relationships, Miracle Man met me more head-on, with the shameless line, I could tell you I like your sensitivity / When you know it's the way you walk. There's also the single Less Than Zero that utilizes both the 2/3-chord punk guitar heading into choruses with a simple melody and trading of phrases in verse, the "Everything means less than zero" bringing to mind Elliott Smith's penchant for turning a simple chorus into something both snarkier and sadder, maybe a bit more true. That song and its allusions to fascism could require an article of its own, but I'm aiming to keep the reactions to a paragraph to keep the music flowing. My favorite of the bunch still might be the final song, Watching the Detectives, for its literary qualities, as well as those guitar and keyboard flourishes at the end of each chorus. It's a story linking the crime on TV to the life of its viewer in a most dramatic and disturbing way, in three expertly crafted verses and a chorus that can be sung and considered. Overall, this has the raw energy and newness of a debut, even when listened to over 40 years later. I'm a big Beatles fan, but I do feel they had to get through a few albums of standard, less-interesting pop/rock tunes before they figured out how high they could take the art and started exploring new concepts and song craft. Costello seemed ready for that from the get-go, especially in his writing that's both immediate and in tune with the human condition.
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St. Martin the Bald

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Re: ET & Elvis Costello Have a Cup of Coffee (or Two)
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2020, 02:31:16 AM »
My Aim is True

Looking like a punk Buddy Holly and adopting the name of the King, itís easy to see what era Costello is drawing his inspiration from. Early punks and pub rockers valued that 50ís sound and it shows with the bright clean guitars and vocal harmonies. Producer, Nick Loweís fingerprints are all over this record. His pop mastery only adds to the mystique Costello was building here.
Costelloís admiration of country is on display here as well on songs like Blame it on Cain and Pay it Back - apparently heís a big fan of George Strait.
Costelloís strong lyrics and his snarling, smart alecky delivery add to the pop/punk mastery on display here.
This is such a strong debut with at least 3 classics, if not more. I easily listened to this album 4-5 times today.
Looking forward to This Years Model.
Hey, nice marmot!

Eric/E.T.

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Re: ET & Elvis Costello Have a Cup of Coffee (or Two)
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2020, 02:53:26 AM »
My Aim is True

Looking like a punk Buddy Holly and adopting the name of the King, itís easy to see what era Costello is drawing his inspiration from. Early punks and pub rockers valued that 50ís sound and it shows with the bright clean guitars and vocal harmonies. Producer, Nick Loweís fingerprints are all over this record. His pop mastery only adds to the mystique Costello was building here.
Costelloís admiration of country is on display here as well on songs like Blame it on Cain and Pay it Back - apparently heís a big fan of George Strait.
Costelloís strong lyrics and his snarling, smart alecky delivery add to the pop/punk mastery on display here.
This is such a strong debut with at least 3 classics, if not more. I easily listened to this album 4-5 times today.
Looking forward to This Years Model.

 :D Killed it! I key in especially to the keyboard on these first few albums, trying to come to grips with how such a (hmmmm...) carnival-ish sound plays its part in such weighty material. Perhaps a new wave contradiction, or just where punk split into new wave and post-punk, but it's their function that I'm pondering early on in addition to all the obviously amazing lyrics and the tenacity of Costello himself.
A witty saying proves nothing. - Voltaire

Knocked Out Loaded

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Re: ET & Elvis Costello Have a Cup of Coffee (or Two)
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2020, 03:16:38 AM »
My Aim Is True (1977)

Our daily paper had mentioned Elvis in a short piece in 1977 and so I took the tram across town to a small record store that specialized in British imports and I bought his two singles, Less Than Zero and Alison respectively. When his first album was released later that summer I bought that immediately. It is a rock solid debut, very fluid, and strangely both a bit juvenile and a bit mature at the same time and maybe also a little caught in it's own time capsule. I wouldn't call this punk rock and I never did for that matter. Today Alison by far is my favourite from this album. Watching The Detectives, Elvis's fourth single, wasn't included on the orignial album here in Europe.
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St. Martin the Bald

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Re: ET & Elvis Costello Have a Cup of Coffee (or Two)
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2020, 10:51:00 AM »
Costello bridged the punk, post punk divide with a lot of new wave thrown in. Before these divisions became so divided - Iíd say the line was much blurrier back then. Iíd only look to The Clash, who is definitely considered punk to establish that.
His look, anger and anti-establishment views were definitely punk but the production and delivery of this album spans many genres.
As I understand it, this is still a discussion and point of contention among fans.
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