We love all the ir­re­press­ible Elvis Costel­los

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODSHOW -

BARRY EGAN

ELVIS Costello says he never liked the word ma­tu­rity. It im­plies de­cay. And de­cay is one thing of which you could never ac­cuse the fe­ro­cious tal­ent that is Elvis Costello.

Born De­clan Pa­trick Mac­manus in Au­gust 1954 in Lon­don (his late fa­ther, Ross Mac­manus,was a mu­si­cian) he has al­ways brought a touch of the zealot to his work. Com­pla­cency is anath­ema to the man who first an­nounced him­self to Amer­ica at Christ­mas 1977 on the pop­u­lar tele­vi­sion show, Satur­day Night Live.

His de­but al­bum from 1977, My Aim Is True, on Stiff Records, re­mains an en­dur­ing clas­sic. Up there with John Len­non and Ray Davies, Costello re­mains one of the most com­pelling and mas­ter­ful singer­song­writ­ers Eng­land has ever pro­duced.

Some peo­ple, as the New Yorker mag­a­zine noted some years ago, have Costello frozen in Lucite as the skinny, “sneer­ing, knock-kneed rocker with the Buddy Holly glasses and the New Wave suits who, in the late 70s, un­leashed a se­ries of fu­ri­ous, lyri­cally tricky but not un­catchy al­bums and sin­gles. Or else they are dimly aware of a rest­less and pro­tean fig­ure who amid the ripen­ing of a ca­reer sam­pled, and of­ten mas­tered, other gen­res and styles. They may think he was authen­tic once and pre­ten­tious later”.

The truth is, we love all the dif­fer­ent Elvis Costel­los. We love him for the whoosh of Ac­ci­dents Will Hap­pen and Pump It Up and the aching me­lan­cho­lia of Veron­ica and the mag­nif­i­cence of Ev­ery­day I Write the Book and the beauty of Ali­son.

Costello has never been afraid to try some­thing new, no mat­ter how po­ten­tially alien­at­ing that new di­rec­tion may be. You get the im­pres­sion he just likes mu­sic re­gard­less of its era or place in time.

“Af­ter a while, ev­ery­one has to ’fess up to hav­ing older records in their col­lec­tion,” he told Spin mag­a­zine in 2008. “But I think we’re past those ju­ve­nile ar­gu­ments about mu­sic, like: ‘Our gen­er­a­tion, our mu­sic.’ Be­cause right now you’re liv­ing in a time when ev­ery­body you speak to can lis­ten to every­thing they want to.”

He has in­cor­po­rated all man­ner of styles into his work: coun­try, reg­gae, Tin Pan Al­ley, pop, R&B, soul, Tex-mex, tango, new wave. “I’m just a song­writer,” he said.

He has now re­turned to a no­tion of con­certs he did over 25 years ago where songs are cho­sen by the crowd for him and his band to per­form with “songs of love, songs about sex, songs about death and danc­ing, but not nec­es­sar­ily in that or­der”. – Sun­day Independent

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