Elvis Costello – This Year’s Model review

Review number 8!

By no means am I an Elvis Costello expert, in fact far from it, but I definitely appreciate his work.

This Year’s Model is Elvis’ second release, was recorded when he was 23 years old! Quite a feat!

At first, Elvis (born as born Declan Patrick MacManus) listened to The Clash’s debut, and did not like it at all, after several listens, he became a fan. This Year’s Model starts off with a punk influence in “No Action”, a fast track (156 BPM!) clocking in two seconds shy of two minutes. And with that in mind, Mick Jones of The Clash was invited to play guitar with Elvis Costello and The Attractions. He played an additional guitar on a version of “Pump it Up” that did not make the album, but he did play on “Big Tears” (on the second side of the “Pump it Up” 7″, or reissues of This Year’s Model).

The album is a rock record, which mostly has a new wave feel, to me the punk rock influence is not too obvious, even if it is the very start of punk rock. Of course the two genres evolved together, and I was not yet born, hence, again not an expert. The new wave is quite obvious in the toe-tapper that is “Lip Service” (among others!).

My favourite track is the very quick “Lipstick Vogue”, clocking in at 144 BPM! Pete Thomas’ excellent drumming is definitely on display in this one, as is Bruce Thomas’ bass playing (no relation).

“Radio Radio” is also a great tune. It was a single in the U.K., but appeared on the U.S. release. See my blog post titled “The genius of Elvis Costello (and the Beastie Boys)” for more about that song in particular!

Rolling Stone in their small blurb from the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time say it well:

Costello’s second album, and his first with the Attractions, is his most “punk” – not in any I-hate-the-cops sense but in his emotionally explosive writing and his backing band’s vicious gallop. “Radio, Radio,” the broadside against vanilla-pop broadcasting, distills his righteous indignation: Elvis versus the world. And Elvis wins.

No throwaway tracks, songwriting is great, musicianship is superb! No doubt one of the greatest albums of all time!

Sources used:
Rear-View Mirror: Elvis Costello’s ‘Watching The Detectives’
Liner Notes: This Year’s Model
500 Greatest Albums of All Time: Elvis Costello, ‘This Year’s Model’ | Rolling Stone

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