Elvis Costello & The Attractions – The Very Best Of Elvis Costello & The Attractions (1994)

FrontCover1Declan Patrick MacManus, OBE (born 25 August 1954), known professionally as Elvis Costello, is an English singer-songwriter. He has won multiple awards in his career, including Grammy Awards in 1999 and 2020, and has twice been nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Male Artist. In 2003, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked Costello number 80 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

Costello began his career as part of London’s pub rock scene in the early 1970s and later became associated with the first wave of the British punk and new wave movement that emerged in the mid-to-late 1970s. His critically acclaimed debut album My Aim Is True was released in 1977. Shortly after recording it, he formed the Attractions as his backing band. His second album This Year’s Model was released in 1978, and was ranked number 11 by Rolling Stone on its list of the best albums from 1967 to 1987. His third album Armed Forces was released in 1979, and features his highest-charting single, “Oliver’s Army” (number 2 in the UK). His first three albums all appeared on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Costello and the Attractions toured and recorded together for the better part of a decade, though differences between them caused a split by 1986. Much of Costello’s work since has been as a solo artist, though reunions with members of the Attractions have been credited to the group over the years. Costello’s lyrics employ a wide vocabulary and frequent wordplay. His music has drawn on many diverse genres; one critic described him as a “pop encyclopaedia”, able to “reinvent the past in his own image”. Since 2002, his touring band (featuring a rotating cast of musicians) has been known as The Imposters.

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Costello has co-written several original songs for films, including “God Give Me Strength” from Grace of My Heart (1996, with Burt Bacharach) and “The Scarlet Tide” from Cold Mountain (2003, with T-Bone Burnett). For the latter, Elvis was nominated (along with Burnett) for the Academy Award for Best Original Song and the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media.

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The Very Best of Elvis Costello and The Attractions 1977–86 is a 1994 compilation album by Elvis Costello and The Attractions. (wikipedia)

This definitive collection offers the most penetrating single-disc overview available of Elvis Costello’s work with the Attractions. Costello’s early albums changed the face of pop music by harnessing punk’s energy to a leaner, more incisive aesthetic that included pop hooks, virtually inventing new wave in the process. While the Attractions didn’t appear until Costello’s second album, his debut’s moving, unsentimental ballad “Alison” nevertheless remains one of his most loved songs.

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The sound tightened up when the Attractions appeared, as evidenced by the angular, reggae-influenced “(I Don’t Want to Go To) Chelsea” and the anthem of the disillusioned “Pump It Up.” Costello moved further afield in the following years, from the lush, almost baroque pop of Armed Forces’ “Accidents Will Happen” to the heartbreaking ballad “Good Year for the Roses” from his country album Almost Blue. True to Costello’s jittery, neurotic image, things close out on an obsessive note with “I Want You,” an unsettling tale of uncontrolled desire. The depth of Costello’s oeuvre is too vast to be captured on one disc, but this one comes mighty close. (allmusic.com)

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Personnel:
Elvis Costello (vocals, uitar)
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many other studio musicians

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Tracklist:
01. Alison (from My Aim Is True, 1977) (Costello) 3.24
02. Watching The Detectives (from single, 1978) (Costello) 3.46
03. (I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea (from This Year’s Model, 1978) (Costello) 3.10
04. Pump It Up (from This Year’s Model, 1978) (Costello) 3.16
05. Radio Radio (from single, 1978) (Costello) 3.08
06. (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding (Lowe) (from single, 1979) 3.34
07. Oliver’s Army (from Armed Forces, 1979) (Costello) 3.01
08. Accidents Will Happen (from Armed Forces, 1979) (Costello) 3.03
09. I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down (Banks/Jones) (from Get Happy!!, 1980) 2.08
10. New Amsterdam (from Get Happy!!, 1980) (Costello) 2.14
11. High Fidelity (from Get Happy!!, 1980) (Costello) 2.29
12. Clubland (from Trust, 1981) (Costello) 3.45
13. Watch Your Step (from Trust, 1981) (Costello) 3.01
14. Good Year For The Roses (Chesnut) (from Almost Blue, 1981) 3.10
15. Beyond Belief (from Imperial Bedroom, 1982) (Costello) 2.35
16. Man Out Of Time (from Imperial Bedroom, 1982) (Costello) 5.29
17. Everyday I Write The Book (from Punch the Clock, 1983) (Costello) 3.55
18. Shipbuilding (Costello/Langer) (from Punch the Clock, 1983) (Costello) 4.53
19. Love Field (from Goodbye Cruel World, 1984) (Costello) 3.29
20. Brilliant Mistake (from King of America, 1986) (Costello) 3.44
21. Indoor Fireworks (from King of America, 1986) (Costello) 4.10
22. I Want You (from Blood and Chocolate, 1986) (Costello) 6.40

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More from Elvis Costello:
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Various Artists – Concerts For The People Of Kampuchea (1981)

FrontCover1 During the four nights after Christmas in 1979, a number of musicians got together at the Hammersmith Odeon in England for a series of benefit concerts to provide famine relief to the victims of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. The event was organized by Paul McCartney and Kurt Waldheim (who was then Secretary-General of the U.N.), and it involved older artists such as McCartney and the Who as well as younger new wave acts like the Clash and the Pretenders. A 2-LP set titled Concerts for the People of Kampuchea was issued in 1981, containing selected highlights from the four evenings. It’s good to have some historical document of this event. Although the album isn’t the best of its kind, it does capture an interesting moment in rock history.

ConcertProgrameSide One is owned by the Who, who reportedly played a three-hour set on the third night. The four songs contained here are well-played by the post-Keith Moon quartet. It’s not exactly a Live At Leeds-class performance, but it’s respectable enough. A good performance of the then-timely “Sister Disco” makes this set unique.

Side Two contains three songs by the Pretenders (the original lineup, no less) and one from Elvis Costello. It’s good to hear lively performances by these new wave icons in their prime, but the high points of this side are the two rollicking numbers by Rockpile, featuring Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds. Their guest vocalist on “Little Sister” is none other than Robert Plant, doing his best Elvis impersonation.

Side Three demonstrates the difficulty of doing justice to so many artists within the constraints of an LP, as it allows only one song apiece for four of the acts. Queen had the first night of the event to themselves, but they are only represented by one long song. The Clash’s set could probably have been represented by a better song than “Armagideon Time”, though the song is appropriately solemn for the occasion. It’s more fun to hear Ian Dury’s goofy “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick” and the Specials’ droll “Monkey Man”. The latter is a reminder of the 1979 ska revival in England.

Side Four showcases McCartney’s exploits during the fourth and final evening, first with three Wings songs, and then with three bombastic numbers by Rockestra, a McCartney-led jam of at least twenty English rockers. (The credited list appears at the bottom of this page). The “Rockestra Theme” won a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. This is definitely a unique moment that is interesting to hear and see. Unfortunately, the documentary Rock For Kampuchea has never been released on DVD. But, thanks to YouTube, the “Rockestra Theme” footage is embedded below:

Booklet1 Whereas George Harrison had his all-star charity concert for the people of Bangladesh, Paul McCartney had this December, 1979 series of concerts in Hammersmith Odeon to raise money for the victims of Pol Pot’s reign of terror in Cambodia. It was a meeting of the old guard (McCartney, the Who) and the new (the Clash, Ian Dury, the Pretenders, Elvis Costello), and those in the middle (Queen) who could sneak in. The audio quality is shabby; nothing leaps out as being more sonically interesting than a live radio broadcast, and the performances are okay but not staggering. the Who — with a full side devoted to them — deliver their usual stadium set (edited from a three-hour performance). Queen, on the other hand, who similarly had a full night to themselves, get one song. Of most interest in terms of rockstar-watching is the “Rockestra,” a supergroup of the musicians from all three nights. Before the infamous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame superstar jams, here’s about 30 rockers plowing away at “Lucille” and “Let It Be” in front of thousands of awestruck fans. Of archival interest mostly: I guess you had to be there. (by Ted Mills)

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Piano: Paul McCartney
Keyboards: Linda McCartney, Tony Ashton, Gary Brooker
Guitars: Denny Laine, Laurence Juber, James Honeyman-Scott, Dave Edmunds, Billy Bremner, Pete Townshend, Robert Plant
Bass: Paul McCartney, Bruce Thomas, Ronnie Lane, John Paul Jones
Drums, Percussion: Steve Holley, Kenney Jones, Tony Carr, Morris Pert, Speedy Acquaye, John Bonham
Horns: Howie Casey, Steve Howard, Thaddeus Richard, Tony Dorsey
Vocals: Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney, John Paul Jones, Ronnie Lane, Bruce Thomas, Robert Plant

RockestraA small part of Rockestra

Tracklist:

The Who:
01. Baba O´Riley (Townshend) 5.22
02. Sister Disco (Townshend) 5.22
03. Behind Blue Eyes (Townshend) 3.41
04. See Me, Feel Me (Townshend) 6.02

Pretenders:
05. The Wait (Hynde/Farndon) 3.32
06. Precious (Hynde) 3.27
07. Tattooed Love Boys (Hynde) 3.23

Elvis Costello & The Attractions:
08. The Imposter (Costello) 2.15

Rockpile:
09. Crawling From The Wreckage (Parker) 3.06
10. Littler Sister (with Robert Plant)(Pomus/Shuman) 3.34

Queen:
11. Now I´m Here (May) 7.00

The Clash:
12. Armagideon Time (Bennett)

Ian Dury & The Blockheads:
13, Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick (Dury/Jankel)

The Specials:
14. Monkey Man (Hibbert) 4.17

Paul McCartney & Wings:
15. Got To Get You Into My Life (Lennon/McCartney) 3.06
16. Every Night (MyCartney) 4.23
17. Coming Up (McCartney) 4.15

Rockestra:
18. Lucille (Collins/Penniman) 3.08
19. Let It Be (Lennon/McCartney) 4.14
20. Rockestra Theme (McCartney) 2.37

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