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Monday, 17 August 2015

45RPM: #1a Elvis Costello - 1977-82 Pt1

45RPM is a brand new series spotlighting artists who have put together a tremendous body of work through the release of their Singles. Now, not all of them have to be massive hit records but it certainly helps.

The light shines on Elvis Costello for our first post. He's released over 60 Singles since 1977 (hence the need for three posts!), some of them are considered classics (even the ones that didn't chart!).

There's loads of links as I've included the B-Sides as well. Click on them to enjoy the music.

We begin at the beginning:


A-Side: Less Than Zero.
The debut single from Elvis Costello came out 25th March 1977 and would also appear on his debut album 'My Aim is True' released two months later.

The song was also involved in Costello's infamous performance on Saturday Night Live. Following pressure from his record company to play the song on the show, Costello began to play the song, but he stopped after only a few bars, saying that "there's no reason to do this song here." He then launched into an unannounced performance of 'Radio Radio', a song he had promised not to play. As a result, he was banned from the show until 1989.


A-Side: Alison.

The second single from Elvis Costello didn't even dent the chart and yet it is, in my honest opinion, one of his finest.


A-Side: Red Shoes.
B-Side: Mystery Dance.

'Red Shoes' is another that for some strange reason totally escaped the charts and yet Elvis found himself on Top of the Pops performing it!


B-Side: Blame It On Cain (Live)/Mystery Dance (Live).
Stiff's first Top 20 single in the UK and of course Elvis Costello's first hit single after three previous attempts. The single spent 11 weeks on the chart peaking at #15.


The first single released as Elvis Costello and the Attractions. #16 in the UK charts. It was also the first on Radar Records after his departure from Stiff Records.

A-Side: Pump It Up
B-Side: Big Tears
#24 in the charts. The video for the single was shot on the same day as the previous single.


A-Side: Radio Radio
B-Side: Tiny Steps
Peaked at #29 on the charts.
The song is a protest song concerning the commercialisation of radio broadcasts and the restrictions that prevented many punk songs from being played. It includes a reference to the BBC's ban of the Sex Pistols' 1977 single "God Save the Queen".


A-Side: Oliver's Army
Their biggest hit single to date smashing it at #2.

2nd single from Armed Forces album that only reached #28 in the charts.


B-Side: Girls Talk
 A fantastic cover version of the classic Sam and Dave song backed by Girls Talk (an Elvis Costello penned song) that Dave Edmunds had a hit with in 1979.
Originally the single was going to be released on Two-Tone but due to contractual difficulties it never was (though there are some copies of it out there somewhere!). F-Beat released it eventually. Another huge hit peaking at #4.

Second single from the Get Happy album only made it to #30. Really thought this would have gone a lot higher as it's a fantastic single.


A-Side: New Amsterdam
#36 in the charts this one, released as Elvis Costello (without the Attractions).


 A-Side: Clubland
A forerunner to the new album Trust that would be released in January 1981 and infact the opening track to the album. The single is once again credited to Elvis Costello and the Attractions. Only hobbled into the charts at #60 (the album reached #9).

B-Side: Luxembourg
This Single release bears the uncanny label of being the first release by Elvis Costello and the Attractions not to chart! Featured on the single are Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze, Billy Bremner (no, not the football but the guitarist from Rockplie) and Martin Belmont (The Rumour).

Just like it had taken a cover version of Sam and Dave to bust into the Top Ten it was another cover that gave Elvis Costello and the Attractions a massive hit that peaked at #6 in the UK. A Good Year For The Roses was written by Jerry Chesnut and originally recorded by George Jones in 1970! Hold on a minute, EC has gone country!! An album of Country Covers recorded in Nashville would hit the stores in October of 1981.


A-Side: Sweet Dreams
B-Side: Physco (Live)
The follow-up was another Country Cover, this time of a Don Gibson song originally written in 1955! The Album 'Almost Blue' made it to #7 but the single could do nothing and hung just outside the Top Forty at #42.

A-Side: I'm Your Toy
The last single release from the Almost Blue album. It's an old Gram Parsons tune. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra join EC and the Attractions. The flip side sees Elvis tackle Johnny Cash and off the top of my head I can't recall who did Wondering.

We'll finish up there as a new album etc would follow in July 1982 and it will be a good place to kick off in part 2.
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