Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Spinning Songbook Countdown: This Year's Model

This is the album I want Elvis Costello to sign when I see him live in April. This Year's Model is one of my favorite albums and the one that turned me into the Obsessive-compulsive fan that would listen to all his albums in the run-up to a concert. If you've heard it, you'd understand.

This Year's Model is an undisputed classic in every respect. It's Costello's first album with the Attractions, the excellent backing band that would become such an integral part of Costello's early albums. It's also the Elvis Costello album that is pure punk, emerging in the middle of British punk's heyday and delivering genre classics like Pump It Up and Radio, Radio. The vinyl version has an inspired gag by designer Barney Bubbles, the title being cut off and the color bars making the cover look like a brilliant mistake. It's also a perfect album with no clunkers and a thrilling, frenetic sound and that will make you forget about the speed limit if you're listening to it while driving.

This is the first album I listen to whenever I go on a road trip because it's such an unrelenting burst of music that makes any dull highway somewhat fun. The Attractions deliver such a great performance, from Peter Thomas' fast-paced drums to Bruce Thomas' bass on a never-ending groove and Steve Nieve's driving keyboards. Then there's the man himself, singing songs on the mean side of those on My Aim Is True. Each song tinged with cynicism and the frustration of lust, love and youth.

Classics: No Action, The Beat, Pump it Up, You Belong to Me, (I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea, Lipstick Vogue and Radio, Radio.

Songs I'd like to hear live: No Action, You Belong to Me, Hand in Hand, Lipstick Vogue, Night Rally and Radio, Radio.

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