TITLE: My Aim Is True
YEAR RELEASED: 1977
CHART ACTION: #32 US, #14 UK
SINGLES: Less Than Zero, Alison, (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes, Watching the Detectives (#15 UK, #108 US)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Mystery Dance
LINEUP: Elvis Costello, John McFee, Sean Hopper, Johnny Ciambotti, Mickey Shine
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: “Angry young man” comes out of nowhere (actually someone whose been at this for four years or so in various groups with no success) and records a blistering set of tunes while being backed by a US band (Clover) on its last legs.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Declan McManus, ex of Rusty and Flip City, changed his name to Elvis Costello, hooked up with some sympathetic folks at Stiff Records (Nick Lowe, Dave Robinson, Jake Rivera), recorded his songs mainly as a demo to be a songwriter and started the career of one of the best and eclectic songwriters of our era.
Most of these songs are familiar to those of us who lived in the New Wave / Punk first wave. However, what’s most surprising is how well the resonated without the Attractions as his backing band. Clover was a San Francisco based band in the UK on their last gasp (they actually would morph into Huey Lewis & the News after a while, and Mr. Lewis was not needed at the session since he was just harmonica player and singer for Clover) and while they play with competence, they don’t have the fire or passion that Attractions would later bring.
Still, the record’s a very compelling listen even if you nothing of UK politics circa 1977 or if you hear Alison one more time you’ll scream!
NOTES & MINUTAE: The US version appended Watching the Detectives after that was released and got some airplay on hipper stations.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Several. This has been re-released at least three times with various demos, etc. The current one streaming has a show in Nashville from 1977 with the Attractions that burns through a lot of Costello’s early work.
GRADE: A-: Great songs, but the Attractions are missed