Best Albums of the 70s – #17
My Aim is True – Elvis Costello (1977)
Elvis Costello landed three albums on my 80s list, two in the top six. That was definitely his defining decade. But He made a pretty strong impression in the last few years of the 70s as well.
While his second and third albums, This Year’s Model and Armed Forces, won’t appear on this list, they contain some excellent work. But I’m most drawn to Costello’s debut album, My Aim is True, which announced his singular talent through a megaphone.
In 1976, a 22-year-old Elvis Costello took a sick day from his job as a computer operator and holed up in a London studio with a band called Clover to record one of the great debut albums in rock history, My Aim is True.
The album wasn’t a huge commercial hit, but it was a critical smash. This weird-looking guy with Buddy Holly glasses and a pigeon-toed punk stance could jump from New Wave pop to Bacharach-style ballads in the course of a few songs. Right off the bat he was hard to peg.
So how does one follow 10 months worth of Bob Dylan Weekends? In my case, I go to another one of my absolute favorite artists, and perhaps the only songwriter in my collection who rivals Dylan in terms of output and lyrical dexterity.
Welcome to Elvis Costello Weekends!
Born in London in 1954 as Declan Patrick MacManus (talk about a name begging to be changed), Costello released his first album at 23 and went on to have one of the most diverse and fascinating careers in popular music. He has tried his hand at every conceivable genre, from punk to country, chamber music to opera. I await his rap album any time now.
My latest featured artists is one of the most prolific and talented songwriters in my collection — the peerless Elvis Costello.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Costello has done pretty much everything there is to do in the musical realm, writing and performing in just about every conceivable genre. His love and understanding of music and musical history runs so deep that following him is an education as well as a joy.
Because he’s released so many albums, I’m going to spread his tracks over two weeks and try to hit them all. Warner seems to boot his tracks off of YouTube, though, so the ones I have tracked down might not stay up for long. Listen fast.