Elvis Costello produced my second-favorite album of 1981, and just a few months earlier, he released my favorite.
Costello’s fifth album, Trust, is similar to Squeeze’s East Side Story in that it’s a New Wave record dabbling in a host of other genres. Squeeze lead singer Glenn Tilbrook even duets with Costello on the fun track ‘From a Whisper to a Scream.’
Wrapping up my look back at 2002 is a song from Low’s sixth studio album, Trust. Low is a Minnesota-based trio that performs a genre sometimes called slowcore or sadcore.
Think crawling tempos, lots of reverb, depressing lyrics. You know, for kids.
Allow me to pause to acknowledge my parents’ 50th anniversary, which they’re celebrating today. I hoped to find an appropriate song with which to acknowledge the milestone, but I wound up with a 8-minute dirge about heroin addiction. Sorry, mom and dad!
On Friday I featured an Elvis Costello track (courtesy of Dana) that he recorded with The Roots. Yesterday, the Random Weekend selection was a country cheating song by John Hiatt.
I guess those two selections were combined for today’s random selection, a country cheating song by Elvis Costello.
It’s tough deciding which Trust track to highlight next. They’re all so good, and good in such different ways.
Do I go for the soulful ‘Watch Your Step,’ which feels like the older brother of Get Happy!!‘s ‘Secondary Modern’? The frantic drum and piano jam ‘Lovers Walk’? Closing track ‘Big Sister’s Clothes,’ which sounds to me like a perfect pop song being transmitted through outer space?
I could go with any of those, and a few others besides.
In 1981, Elvis Costello kept up his album-a-year pace and released Trust. The album was the polar opposite of Get Happy!! — the focused and consistent R&B of the earlier record replaced by a stylistic smorgasbord.
Trust skips between pop, rock, jazz and country, occasionally within the same song. It’s an explosion of creativity that paved the way for Costello’s future musical experimentation and, for my money, his fourth or fifth best album.
With today’s selection, I’m breaking from my usual rule of featuring only album cuts. This is an interesting clip of ‘Shot With His Own Gun’… it appears to have been filmed as a simple music video more than a live performance. I’m not sure where it originally aired.
I’m OK using the non-album cut in this case because the song as it appears on Trust is similarly bare-bones. It’s just Costello on vocals and the fabulous Steve Nieve on piano. I do regret that this version leaves out the nice piano solo in the middle of the album version, but mostly it’s spot on.
It’s pretty amazing that, if you set aside the theme-week duet with Lucinda Williams, I’ve written about 96 songs without featuring a solo Elvis Costello tune. Elvis is the king of my music collection. I have pretty much everything he’s ever recorded, from the early post-punk Attractions albums through his experimental Beatles-esque stuff, on to the chamber music and Burt Bacharach detours and back to his recent return to his rock-and-roll roots.
He’s the most prolific and fascinating songwriter I know and an artist whose love of music — all kinds of music — is infectious. In many ways, loving Costello means not just being a fan but a student. A student of language and a student of sound.