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18 June 2011

Elvis Costello - 'This Year's Model' (Radar)

I always thought that my copy of this was rare, because the cover was misprinted, wrapping the spine around to the back, cropping the title to His Year's Model and leaving ugly printing registration marks on the right. But when I googled for an image to put here, I found a few versions of this look, suggesting this edition, if not intentional, was at least pretty common. At my peak of enjoying Elvis Costello records (approximately 12 years ago), I was happy to find this UK issue because it contained '(I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea' instead of 'Radio Radio' and the former is a far better tune. Yeah, this is the best of the first three Elvis Costello records, of course containing the most hits and far better production and confidence than My Aim Is True. Here, as throughout these pages, I'm gonna express the same awkward uncomfortable approach towards writing about such "classic" records. I don't have a lot to say specifically about these songs - yes, 'Little Triggers' is a great and surprisingly nuanced look at dating, 'No Action' is a stomping side-1-track-1, and 'Chelsea''s guitar lick is like a biting razor. But I don't want to go into a deep analysis of late 70's British masculinity, cultural tropes, or any of the other things that could probably be written about here. I'm sure someone's done a PhD on Elvis Costello already, anyway. What does strike me on this revisit is how rooted in 50's and 60's rock and roll these songs are - 'You Belong to Me' could be Cliff Richard, and some of the keyboard riffs seem so obvious, but maybe that's cause I've heard these songs a million times. 'Living in Paradise' and 'Lip Service' are really great songs too. 'Lipstick Vogue' is a good fast stomper. I don't know what else to say; just enjoy this!

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