After a flurry of punk rock and reggae, with a splash of Barry Manilow, we go in a different direction with the debut album from UK singer-songwriter Elvis Costello. Visually, Elvis is a bit of a throwback, looking somewhat similar to Buddy Holly. His sound is much more unique, with blends of rock and roll, soul, ska, and a continuing evolution of what some what would refer to as new wave. This album, “My Aim is True”, is rated #430 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. I will also note the small but sad irony, that this Elvis makes his broad debut in the same year we lost the King, the original Elvis.
Through most of my life, I had never really thought much about Elvis Costello until my son encouraged us to go see him in a solo (no backing band) performance a few years ago. It was an outstanding show, and really opened my eyes to his overall talent and catalog. This first album is a great collection and I can see why it was well received. A bit more grounded and truer to the legacy of rock and roll than a lot of what was popular at the time, the entire record is a really good listen. The most popular song from this album proved to be “Watching the Detectives”, which is one of those tracks to have that ska flavor. I like that song, but there are others I liked even better. One last footnote, “Watching the Detectives” was not on the original UK release, but it was included on the initial US release.
The opener, “Welcome to the Working Week” is a great up-tempo song to start things off. Other tracks I really latched on to include “Blame It on Cain”, “Alison”, “Less Than Zero”, and perhaps the best groove on the album, “Waiting for the End of the World”. This is a great driving album, which I put in to motion on multiple occasions this week. I spent most of my adult life somewhat oblivious to Elvis Costello, but through my son’s broader tastes and this journey, I’m glad I can now add many of these songs to my master playlist.