[Note: I am forgoing my usual April Fools’ Day post this year, in part because I’m in the middle of a Decades countdown and in part because the world seems to have turned into a giant, cruel prank without me needing to pile on.]
Elvis Costello’s Punch the Clock followed what may be his best album, Imperial Bedroom, by just a year, and in that context it can’t help but be a bit of a letdown. But it’s plenty good enough to land at #3 on my list of the best albums of 1983.
This Elvis Costello track shows up on one of the reissues of his 1983 album Punch the Clock.
It’s a testament to the depth of Costello’s catalog that a song this good can end up as a forgotten B-side, and also that after months of Costello Weekends, plenty of Random Weekend appearances, and a bunch of other Song of the Day posts, I still have to much great material of his to mine.
I don’t have much to say about today’s song of the day, a cut from the album universally considered the worst of Elvis Costello’s career.
Costello’s 1984 Goodbye Cruel World was sandwiched between Imperial Bedroom and Punch the Clock on one side and King of America and Blood and Chocolate on the other, so it’s hard to begrudge the man one misstep in the midst of such greatness.
‘Pidgin English’ is the 13th track on Elvis Costello’s briliant 1982 album Imperial Bedroom. This is an album on which Costello was working at the very peak of his powers, channeling his mad musical visions into addicting cerebral ear candy.
As YouTube commenter Vincent Straziuso writes about this track, “How do you imagine this song pull it out of the ether and write this???”
Elvis Costello and the Attractions recorded this cover of Yoko Ono’s ‘Walking On Thin Ice’ for a 1984 Yoko tribute album titled Every Man Has a Woman.
It was later released on Costello’s compilation Out of Our Idiot and finally on the reissue of Punch the Clock, where I first heard it. It’s pretty great.
Elvis Costello’s 1986 album King of America blended Country and Americana flavors with his brand of brainy singer-songwriter rock, resulting in one of his greatest achievements.
Among confessional ballads and geo-political explorations, Costello dropped in a few fun rave-ups, including today’s SOTD, ‘The Big Light.’
My #4 album of 1991 is the mostly mediocre Elvis Costello release, Mighty Like a Rose.
Ranking this one was tough. I had to balance the warm bath of nostalgia with the sobering effects of time, then sprinkle in a dash of ‘one amazing song lifting up a whole album.’ Given all that, fourth place feels about right.