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Editors’ Notes

After the critical success and commercial indifference of his previous album, 1982’s Imperial Bedroom, Elvis Costello made a concerted effort to make his music more commercially accessible by enlisting the help of British hitmaking producers Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley. The duo immediately went about slickening and streamlining the band’s sound with synthesizers, horns and other effects that were among the trends of the early ‘80s. The attack worked, since “Everyday I Write the Book” became a substantial hit and tracks such as “Let Them All Talk” and the eerie minimalist “Pills & Soap” and even more politically charged “Shipbuilding” had a deceptively accessible groove underpinning their thorny concerns. Costello could still be lyrically obscure and his wit is often concealed on first listen. “The Element Within Her,” “Mouth Almighty,” and “The World and His Wife” are not your average pop tunes, but songs loaded with potential land mines where a compliment may just be an insult delivered with a velvet glove.

Customer Reviews

Elvis Stretches Out

This album showed that Elvis was not just a punk rock musician. Adding the TKO Horns and Afrodesiac (two African back-up singers) were great ideas and ideally suited Elvis' foray into pop. The strangest/coolest track on the album is "Shipbuilding." Chet Baker was in London doing some concerts and Elvis asked him to play on a new version of "Shipbuilding" which ends up on the album. This started Elvis' and Chet's collaborations (including Elvis getting Chet to record "Almost Blue," a song Elvis wrote with Chet in mind). Standout tracks are: "Let Them All Talk," "The Greatest Thing," "Shipbuilding" and "The World and His Wife." This album still sounds great today, almost 25 years after its initial release.

Spectacular

Yeah, it was clear by this album came out that Elvis was never going to attend mega star status, but it was also clear that he was more prolific than anyone since the Beatles at writing good songs. This tends to get overlooked because it doesn't have many "hit songs" - only Everyday I write the Book and Shipbuilding show up on his incessant best of collections - but pretty much every song is fun and worth listening to and they aren't bloated with filler leadins or fade outs like most stuff today. He gets right in to the song with his hook and 3 and a half minutes later he's out and on to the next one, which is, by the way, how his concerts work. My favorite is Everyday I Write the Book - "even in a perfect world / where everyone was equal / I'd still own the film rights / and be working on the sequel." I mean, you cannot write a better lyric than that.

great songs, somewhat distracting production

it has some amazing tracks, my favorite being "Pills and Soap"

Biography

Born: August 25, 1954 in Paddington, London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

When Elvis Costello's first record was released in 1977, his bristling cynicism and anger linked him with the punk and new wave explosion. A cursory listen to My Aim Is True proves that the main connection that Costello had with the punks was his unbridled passion; he tore through rock's back pages taking whatever he wanted, as well as borrowing from country, Tin Pan Alley pop, reggae, and many other musical genres. Over his career, that musical eclecticism distinguished his records as much as his...
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