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2023 Albums Thing 084 - Elvis Costello & The Attractions “This Years Model”

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By his second album EC had found himself his own band and a new record company. During 1977 Costello’s manager and Stiff Records co-owner, Jake Riviera, departed the label due to a dispute with co-founder Dave Robinson. Due to the terms of their management agreement Costello left Stiff and moved to Radar Records.

His new band were The Attractions who in time proved to be a formidable backing band. Bassist Bruce Thomas had previously played with Quiver (of Sutherland Brothers & fame), drummer Pete Thomas had made an album with pub rockers Chilli Willi & The Red Hot Peppers while classically trained keyboard man Steve Nieve had never played with a rock band before. Formidable or not they didn’t yet have enough clout to get themselves a credit on the sleeve, but they’re there on the label. The sleeve itself says much about the contents, Elvis as the “Cool Jerk” (as The Capitals would have it) seriously peering out from behind the camera ready to capture all your foibles and guilt and lyricise them all.

“This Years Model” is much more in the New Wave mode than its predecessor, due to The Attractions in the main. The sound they create is much more of the times, vaguely 60’s sounding but more upfront than the first album, in particular Nieve’s wheezy Organ sound. The subject matter is much as it was on “My Aim Is True”, “revenge and guilt”, as EC described it in an interview with Nick Kent, with a sprinkling of railing at fascists. It jumps in with both feet from the off in “No Action” with “I don't wanna kiss you. I don't wanna touch, I don't wanna see you 'cause I don't miss you that much“, nothing too ambiguous there ! 

And then…and then I thought what am I doing here ? I don’t think I’ve ever looked to Elvis Costello for big statements or answers, even though some might tell you they are here. I think I’ve always looked to him for great songs, great melodies, great performances, great recordings. I don’t think I’ve ever pored over Costello’s lyrics like I have over Weller’s or Joe Strummers or Jason Isbell’s or many others but he does write great ones. What I want from Elvis Costello & The Attractions is great records and this is a bloody great record. In sound and in songs (“Pump it Up”, “(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea”, “Lipstick Vogue”, “Night Rally” are all superb) they hit a button that works for me and sometimes you don’t need to dig any deeper than that…I just like this, OK ?

Lipstick Vogue - https://youtu.be/J3sqZUMgcX4

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