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. **

“(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding” (Elvis Costello Cover)

Originally posted 2008-07-21 23:59:20. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Hello and welcome to another all-new Laptop Session, brought to you by the music blog devoted to great new rock music. My acoustic cover song tonight is not a new rock song, but it is a classic by an artist that did release an excellent album this year. That artist is Elvis Costello and the song is “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding.” I had actually planned on recording (and did, in fact) record a different song for my session tonight, but after I finished that one, I went on to this Elvis Costello tune and liked how it came out so much that I had to post it tonight. For whatever reason (the amount of time that I had been singing previously, the air conditioning taking all the moisture out of the air in the house, or my allergies), my voice was somewhat rough for this recording. Normally, that would be enough for me to put down the guitar and wait for another day. However, I think it worked for the emotion that is supposed to be conveyed by this track. Aside from the very end of this take when my voice is simply too shot to hit the notes I wanted to hit (please feel free to laugh at the ridiculous look on my face), I’m happy with how it came out.

This is one my favorite Elvis Costello songs of all time, and it’s a perfect track to bring to this music blog, as it has been recorded as a cover song previously by such bands as the Wallflowers. It’s a fairly simple song with simple chords, simple but great lyrics, and a simple message that I know Ringo Starr would love, and it translates very well to acoustic guitar. That being said, Jim and I did some research tonight and were shocked to find that although he is listed as #80 on the list of best rock artists ever, he has had very few songs chart well, especially on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s amazing that his most popular songs really aren’t as successful as you might expect for an artist of his standing. That either says something about him or, more likely, the system. (Especially considering that this is a system that barely recognizes the existence of such talented and influential acts as the Moody Blues…)

If you’re a regular viewer of the Laptop Sessions, you’ll get another dose of Elvis Costello very soon — his new rock music on this year’s Momofuku is some of my favorite from him and is easily in my personal top four or five albums of the year (and this is saying alot, as I’ve heard somewhere approaching fifteen new albums this year already!).

Whatever you do, don’t go too far; Jeff will be back tomorrow with an all-new acoustic cover song music video for your listening and viewing pleasure…

See you next session!



Elvis Costello’s “National Ransom” (2010) – YES, NO, MAYBE SO?

Elvis Costello’s National Ransom (2010) – MAYBE NOT

National Ransom (Elvis Costello, 2010)

National Ransom (Elvis Costello, 2010)

(November 2, 2010)

Review:

Aside from a few sparking moments and a couple notable tracks, National Ransom feels more like a collection of sixteen songs that didn’t make the cut for Secret, Profane, and Sugarcane, which was in every way a more engaging, dynamic, and cohesive effort.

Top Two Tracks:

“A Slow Drag With Josephine” & “Five Little Words”