Elvis Costello’s “Live at Hollywood High” (Recorded 1978; Released 2010) – The Weekend Review

Originally posted 2010-01-31 23:37:34. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

RATING:  4 / 5 stars

With all the confidence and cohesion that comes across on Live at Hollywood High, it is difficult to believe that this is a document of a performance that took place only a year after Elvis Costello’s debut album was released.  One might think that a live album recorded so early in an artist’s career would be a study in a live act finding their sound, featuring a young group aspiring to greatness and working out the kinks along the way.

The opposite is true.

It is clear that, by 1978,  Elvis Costello and the Attractions had been working together closely enough to forge a sound all their own, and one that sounds like it had been planned, rehearsed, and perfected over years of live performances.

And yet they were barely a year in at the time of this concert.

There is something compelling about Elvis Costello’s lyrics, dipped in wordplay and soaked with sarcasm.  His vocals here, as on his best work, are unique and striking.  Likewise, his band works as one united front, Pete Thomas acting as the backbone of the operation, keeping a steady beat and  laying down fills wherever appropriate.

I could listen to Thomas drum all day…

Elvis Costello's "Live at Hollywood High"

Elvis Costello's "Live at Hollywood High"

The concert begins with a poignant version of “Accidents Will Happen,” composed of simply a piano and Costello’s lead vocal.  I like the album version of this song, but I absolutely love this live version.

The slow, serious sound of the opening track is no indication of what is to come, which becomes apparent as the second song, “Mystery Dance,” is launched.  Drawing on references to Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet and taking sonic cues from blues rock, this song sets the precedent for all the others to come: upbeat, passionate, and infectious.

The highlights are certainly the rockers that come across even better live than they did in the studio, songs like “Lip Service,” “This Year’s Girl,” and “Radio Radio.”  Each of these songs attacks human behavior in modern society, and it is interesting to see how these songs are still relevant at the opening of 2010.

In fact, if Costello were to write the second song again, it might be abbreviated to “This Month’s Girl,” or updated to “Internet, Internet” for the second song.

Overall, their pacing and stage presence is outstanding.  “Stranger in the House” is about as slow as Costello and the Attractions get in this concert, and yet it does not feel like a series of very similar songs played at the same speed.

Although he does not speak all that often, when Costello does address the crowd, it is to good effect.  He knows just how to elicit screams and wild cheers (asking, before playing “This Year’s Girl,” if there are any girls present), and he knows just when to introduce hints of what is to come in the show (announcing at the end of one song that he is about to play “Alison”).  This young Elvis Costello is even more funny and quirky than I would have imagined, dedicating “Living in Paradise” to “all the boys on the track, all the boys in the locker room, all the physical jerks…”

How an artist was able to compile such an impressive set list so early in his career, I will never know.  But, what I do know is that Live at Hollywood High plays as a greatest hits at some times, and as an homage to deep tracks at others.

Analyze these and other factors as much as you care to; the bottom line is this:

Elvis Costello & the Attractions play their hearts out, as though their tenure in the music industry and in the hearts of their fans depend on it.  For me, Costello’s performance functioned in the way all music executives dream of…

…it made me want to buy more of his music!

“Alison” by Elvis Costello – Chords, Tabs, & How to Play

Originally posted 2010-02-01 19:48:54. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

“Alison”
Elvis Costello

Intro:  A   E   A   E

E               A                                           E
Oh, it’s so funny to be seeing you after so long, girl,
E                  A                                                 G#m                  C#m
And with the way you look, I understand that you were not impressed.
A                                          G#m       C#m
But I heard you let that little friend of mine
D                                 B7
Take off your party dress…

A                             G#m        C#m
I’m not going to get too sentimental like those
A                            G#m        C#m
other sticky valentines.
A                                                     G#m           C#m
‘Cause I don’t know if you’ve been loving somebody;
D                             B7
I only know it isn’t mine.

A    E     A              B7         G#m   C#m
Alison, I know this world is killing you…
C#m    A    E    A    B7     E
Oh,      Alison, my aim is true.

Well, I see you’ve got a husband now.
Did he leave your pretty fingers lying in the wedding cake?
You used to hold him right in your hand;
I’ll bet he took all he could take.

Sometimes I wish that I could stop you from talking
When I hear the silly things that you say.
I think somebody better put out the big light,
‘Cause I can’t stand to see you this way

Alison, I know this world is killing you.
Oh, Alison…  My aim is true.

My aim is true. (repeat & fade)

** These chords and lyrics are interpretations and transcriptions, respectively, and are the sole property of the copyright holder(s). They are posted on this website free of charge for no profit for the purpose of study and commentary, as allowed for under the “fair use” provision of U.S. copyright law, and should only be used for such personal and/or academic work. **

“Alison” (Elvis Costello Cover)

Originally posted 2010-02-01 23:30:23. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For Elvis Costello chords & lyrics, CLICK HERE!

By Chris Moore:

Good evening and welcome to another week of all-new Laptop Sessions posts!  Today was busy, and although I had a lot of work to do around the condo, I was able to finally relax a bit and begin enjoying being here.  Since tonight marks my first cover song music video since the move, you’ll notice a new backdrop.  It’s a bit plain, since we’re still unpacking boxes and hanging up posters, etc.  In fact, I’m not entirely sure where I want to play my sessions here.  Although I miss having the “wall o’ CD’s” in the background as I did when I lived in the apartment, I do like the light and acoustics of the living room here at the condo.

Still, the visuals should come second to the song at hand.  My session tonight is a cover of Elvis Costello’s “Alison” from his classic 1977 debut album My Aim is True.  As for how I’ve never recorded this song before, I really don’t have an explanation.  This is widely considered Costello’s best known and best loved recording, second only to “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding?”  There are certainly other Costello songs that are more rocking, more complex, or simply better, but this heartbreaking tune is a wonderful little song.  Although I’ve loved Elvis Costello and the Imposters since Delivery Man, I’ve only recently gotten into his older material (via Live at Hollywood HighCLICK HERE for the full review).  Even still, I’ve always loved “Alison.”

I’ve been thinking recently about why it took me a while to warm to Costello’s material, and my best guess is the way his “best of” is compiled.  The Very Best of Elvis Costello, the quintessential EC greatest hits that was released in April 2001, is a two-disc set with virtually no booklet to speak of.  This, to me, is a cardinal sin — how could one, as an album designer, decide to disconnect a “best of” compilation from the appropriate context?  Instead of liner notes, there is a series of the same photo of Costello colorized in different shades.  And, really, I would have been happy with any type of text: brief notes about each song, an essay about Costello, or even a message/reflection from the man himself.

And what really surprised me years ago when I opened this CD on Christmas morning was that it was a Rhino release.  Anyone who’s ever bought an album release from Rhino knows that they’re typically very generous with booklets and other packaging.  At least, that’s the experience that I’ve had.

Regardless, I picked up Live at Hollywood High, an Elvis Costello and the Attractions concert from 1978, out of curiosity, and I actually felt a little guilty about spending money on it.  After all, the last time I had listened to his early songs, I hadn’t been overly interested.  But it has also been a good number of years since I had heard them.

The concert is fantastic.

I went back last week and listened to all 140 EC songs on my iPod and five-starred the songs I really liked.  In the end, I was left with a 36 song playlist that I’ve been listening to in shuffle mode constantly for days.  (And, since there’s no new music of interest coming out this week, it’ll have to sustain me for another seven days.)  Not surprisingly, several of the live versions of his songs made the playlist over the studio versions.  Typically, I opt for studio recordings, but this was one of those cases where the live versions are sometimes just better — more catchy, passionate, etc.

The studio recording of “Alison” is classic, though.

I’m posting late tonight because I had a faculty meeting today, followed by a trip to a fancy locale known as K-Mart (remember those??) to pick up a dinette set with the help of my parents, and I’ve been building the chairs ever since.  You can’t believe how many nuts, bolts, washers, spring washers, screws, and other little pieces go into the assembly of these things.

It’s been so much work that I might record my session next week at the dining room table just to feel like it was for a purpose…

Seriously though, it’s actually been a lot of fun just building this set while watching season five of The Office.  Of course, it wouldn’t be exciting without an issue.  In this case, I unpacked the pieces to find that the table has a six-inch crack down the center of it.  They’re getting more in on Friday, so I’ll be able to complete the building then, but I just have to wonder…  why did it have to be the BIGGEST piece that’s broken?  Couldn’t it have been something like one of the chair spindles?

Until next week, I want to remind you to stay tuned here all week for some great new posts.  There are more Laptop Sessions to come, as well as music reviews and more.  And the Guest Sessions submissions have been multiplying recently, which I couldn’t be more thrilled about, so once I review those videos, you can look forward to the cream of that particular crop over the next few weeks.

See you next session!