Sunday, March 17, 2013

this year's model

Elvis Costello found a raucous new band to back him up for the venomous and vigorous recording of this quintessential new wave snapshot.  After recording his stunning debut 'My Aim is True' with the Shamrocks (aka Clover), Costello was ready to find a band of his own:    "It was the 12th of July 1977. One week after quitting my day job, I found myself at a disused R.A.F. base outside the Cornish village of Davidstowe. The only structure that was not derelict doubled as the local dancehall. We were using it as a rehearsal room. In two days I would be playing in public for the first time with my new group, The Attractions.  The keyboard player, a 19-year-old student from the Royal College of Music, was easily the most impressive candidate at the auditions. He had asked to stay to hear the other players and later been discovered curled up asleep among the amplifiers, having quietly demolished a bottle of sweet cooking sherry. He was obviously the man for the job. His family name was Nason, which most people misheard as the more common 'Mason', but we soon started calling him 'Steve Nieve'.  The bass player was a few years older than the rest of us. Bruce Thomas had played in a number of recorded bands and had plenty of road and studio experience. He had a fondness for venturing up the neck of his instrument to registers unfamiliar to other bass players. In those days he also possessed a decent sense of humour. Then again, he was from Middlesborough.  After a couple of years working in California, the drummer had arrived back in England courtesy of a major record company. They had sprung for his plane ticket after my manager, Jake Riviera, had persuaded them that he might be a candidate for a vacant drum stool for one of their new groups. However, upon arrival in London he headed straight for the studio where Nick Lowe had just mixed 'Watching the Detectives'. I never really entertained the idea of another drummer. Pete Thomas was three weeks older than me. I was 22 and had just released my first record."

Sticking with producer Nick Lowe, Costello took his new band into the studio before their first US tour:   "'This Year's Model' was begun at Eden Studios, London at the end of 1977, just after the single release of 'Watching the Detectives', and completed at the beginning of 1978. The Sessions, which had to be scheduled at either end of our first American tour, took about eleven days. Most of the songs had been played 'live' since our first appearances in July '77. Others, such as 'Pump It Up', were written in the last days of the infamous 'Live Stiffs' package tour which ended shortly before the recording...The engineer was Roger Becherian, who was to work on our next four Nick Lowe-produced albums. Roger was a calm and practical foil to Nick's instinctive and emotional approach to recording. It was Roger who had the task of making a sonic reality out of Nick's directions, such as 'turn the drums into one big maraca' or 'make it sound like a dinosaur eating cars'.  The Attractions made a huge difference to these songs... In any case, most of these songs were works of imagination rather than products of experience. The temptations and distractions of the touring life would soon enough add the more cynical and guilty edge found in 'Little Triggers', 'Pump it Up', and 'Hand in Hand'."

'This Year's Model' went to number thirty in the US, twenty-six in Australia, fifteen in Norway, fourteen in the Netherlands, eleven in New Zealand, ten in Sweden, and number four in the UK.   Costello says:    "The first single on Radar, '(I don't want to go to) Chelsea', went to number sixteen in the UK charts, although it was removed by Columbia from the original US release of 'This Year's Model' (along with 'Night Rally') on the pretext of the lyrical content being 'too English'. We followed this up with the release of 'Pump it Up' and a stand-alone single version of 'Radio, Radio' (which was added to the U.S. version of 'This Year's Model')."

"No Action" – 1:58

"This Year's Girl" – 3:17
 "This Year's Girl" was pretty much an "answer song" to the Rolling Stones' "Stupid Girl"--though my words were much less contemptuous. I never really understood the accusations of misogyny that were leveled at the lyrics on 'This Year's Model'. They clearly contained more sense of disappointment than disgust. In any case, most of these songs were works of imagination rather than products of experience."

See her picture in a thousand places 
'cause she's this year's girl. 
You think you all own little pieces 
of this year's girl. 
Forget your fancy manners, 
forget your English grammar, 
'cause you don't really give a damn 
about this year's girl.
Still you're hoping that she's well spoken 
'cause she's this year's girl. 
You want her broken with her mouth wide open 
'cause she's this year's girl. 
Never knowing it's a real attraction, 
all these promises of satisfaction, 
while she's being bored to distraction 
being this year's girl.
Time's running out. She's not happy with the cost. 
There'd be no doubt, only she's forgotten 
much more than she's lost.
A bright spark might corner the market 
in this year's girl. 
You see yourself rolling on the carpet 
with this year's girl. 
Those disco synthesizers, 
those daily tranquilizers, 
those body building prizes, 
those bedroom alibis, 
all this, but no surprises for this year's girl. 
All this, but no surprises for this year's girl. 
All this, but no surprises for this year's girl.

"The Beat" – 3:45

"Pump It Up" – 3:14
jerked its way up to fifty-five in Australia and twenty-four in the UK.  

I've been on tenterhooks 
ending in dirty looks, 
list'ning to the Muzak, 
thinking 'bout this 'n' that. 
She said that's that. 
I don't wanna chitter-chat. 
Turn it down a little bit 
or turn it down flat.
Pump it up when you don't really need it. 
Pump it up until you can feel it.
Down in the pleasure centre, 
hell bent or heaven sent, 
listen to the propaganda, 
listen to the latest slander. 
There's nothing underhand 
that she wouldn't understand.
Pump it up until you can feel it. 
Pump it up when you don't really need it.
She's been a bad girl. 
She's like a chemical. 
Though you try to stop it, 
she's like a narcotic. 
You wanna torture her. 
You wanna talk to her. 
All the things you bought for her, 
putting up your temp'rature.
Pump it up until you can feel it. 
Pump it up when you don't really need it.
Out in the fashion show, 
down in the bargain bin, 
you put your passion out 
under the pressure pin. 
Fall into submission, 
hit-and-run transmission. 
No use wishing now for any other sin.
Pump it up until you can feel it. 
Pump it up when you don't really need it.


"(I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea" – 3:07
went to number ninety-three in Australia, sixteen in the UK, and number twelve in Ireland.  Costello reveals:  
"(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea" had originally used the same stop-start guitar figure as The Who's "I Can't Explain" (or for that matter The Clash's "Clash City Rockers"). Now Bruce and Pete came up with a more syncopated rhythm pattern and Steve found a part that sounded like sirens--although he rarely played the same thing twice, so you had to pay attention. His keyboard setup was limited to a Vox Continental organ and a cheap keyboard called an "Instapiano"--which had all the sustain and power of a musical box until cranked through an amp. I changed my guitar part to the sort of clicky figure that I'd heard on old Pioneers rock-steady records, only sped up quite a bit."

"Lipstick Vogue" – 3:29

"Night Rally" – 2:41

"Radio Radio"
hit ninety-three in Australia and twenty-nine in the UK.

Elvis Costello - Radio Radio by jpdc11

"We made our U.S. television debut on Saturday Night Live. The Sex Pistols had been scheduled for the show only to cancel after an alleged oversight regarding work permits. Needless to say the expected viewing figures for the debut of U.K. punk outrage were in our favour. We arrived at NBC with the intention of playing a couple of songs from our live set. Maybe something got lost in translation, but none of the humour seemed nearly as "dangerous" or funny as they seemed to think it was, or perhaps they were just having a bad show. The record company interference certainly didn't help my mood.  We were getting pressure to perform a number from My Aim is True. I honestly believed that the words of "Less than Zero" would be utterly obscure to American viewers. Taking a cue from an impromptu performance by Jimi Hendrix on a late '60s B.B.C. television show, I stopped this tune after a few bars and counted off an unreleased song, "Radio, Radio". I believed that we were just acting in the spirit of the third word of the show's title, but it was quickly apparent that the producer did not agree. He stood behind the camera making obscene and threatening gestures in my direction. When the number was over, we were chased out of the building and told that we would "never work on American television again". Indeed, we did not make another U.S. television appearance until 1980. Although this clip from SNL went on to be rerun on numerous occasions, I was not allowed back on the show until 1989. However, I was forgiven in time to be invited to re-create the moment, with the Beastie Boys as my backing band, for the show's 25th anniversary special."

I was tuning in the shine on the light night dial 
doing anything my radio advised 
with every one of those late night stations 
playing songs bringing tears to me eyes 
I was seriously thinking about hiding the receiver 
when the switch broke 'cause it's old 
They're saying things that I can hardly believe. 
They really think we're getting out of control.
Radio is a sound salvation 
Radio is cleaning up the nation 
They say you better listen to the voice of reason 
But they don't give you any choice 
'cause they think that it's treason. 
So you had better do as you are told. 
You better listen to the radio.
I wanna bite the hand that feeds me. 
I wanna bite that hand so badly. 
I want to make them wish they'd never seen me.
Some of my friends sit around every evening 
and they worry about the times ahead 
But everybody else is overwhelmed by indifference 
and the promise of an early bed 
You either shut up or get cut up; 
they don't wanna hear about it. 
It's only inches on the reel-to-reel. 
And the radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools 
tryin' to anaesthetise the way that you feel

Radio is a sound salvation 
Radio is cleaning up the nation 
They say you better listen to the voice of reason 
But they don't give you any choice 
'cause they think that it's treason. 
So you had better do as you are told. 
You better listen to the radio.
Wonderful radio
Marvelous radio
Wonderful radio
Radio, radio... 

'This Year's Model' 
full album:

All songs written by Elvis Costello.

01. No Action 0:00
02. This Year's Girl 2:01
03. Beat 5:23 
04. Pump It Up 9:12 
05. Little Triggers 12:29
06. You Belong to Me 15:14
07. Hand in Hand 17:40
08. (I Don't Want to Go To) Chelsea 20:18 
09. Lip Service 23:28
10. Living in Paradise 26:08
11. Lipstick Vogue 29:55
12. Watching The Detectives 33:29

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