Trying To Get To You

Friday, August 10, 2007

Bootleg Friday: Elvis Costello, 1978

For today's installment of Bootleg Friday, you're getting Elvis Costello at one of his peaks, performing at the legendary Winterland in San Francisco, CA on June 7, 1978. The show was broadcast live on KSAN radio, and featrues Costello and the Attractions motoring through songs from his first two albums, My Aim Is True and This Year's Model, both of which are my favorite Costello albums. (I know there are a lot of fans of Imperial Bedroom, but despite many listens, it's never hooked me.)

Highlights include "Mystery Dance," "Less Than Zero," and titanic versions of "Blame It On Cain" and "Party Girl." I hear a lot of soul influence in both the playing and singing - the sound like a bunch English guys trying to be Booker T. and the MG's with a bad attitude, even though at the time, they probably wouldn't have admitted it. From the Rolling Stone interview in 1982:

"When I went to live in Liverpool I discovered everyone was into acid rock - and I used to hide my Otis Redding records when friends came around. I didn't want to be out of step. I tried to find somebody of that sort that I could like and his group would be it: someone weird like Captain Beefheart. It's no different now - people trying to outdo each other in extremes. I "saw the light" when I was already playing, coming back to London, seeing the pub-rock groups. I discovered that all the music that I liked secretly, that I'd been hiding from my friends - that was what was great fun in a bar: Lee Dorsey songs!
Costello's relationship with soul would take an incredibly complicated turn on the Armed Forces tour in 1979, when drunk in a bar after a show in Columbus, Ohio, arguing viciously with Bonnie Bramlett and members of the Stephen Stills Band and looking for the most outrageous possible thing he could say to offend his antagonists, Costello called Ray Charles a "blind, ignorant nigger," said something similar about James Brown and attacked the stupidity of America in general. This from a man who had produced the first album by the Specials, a pioneering interracial U.K. band, who had taken on the racist National Front in England with "Night Rally" and had appeared at Rock Against Racism concerts. At the time, he became far better known for that statement than he ever did for his music, and it effectively ended any possibility of Costello becoming a mainstream artist - it would take years for the incident to be complete.

Download: "Mystery Dance" 6/7/78, San Francisco, CA
Download: "Lip Service" 6/7/78, San Francisco, CA
Download: "Less Than Zero" 6/7/78, San Francisco, CA
Download: "Blame It On Cain" 6/7/78, San Francisco, CA
Download: "This Year's Girl" 6/7/78, San Francisco, CA
Download: "I Don't Want To Go Down To Chelsea" 6/7/78, San Francisco, CA
Download: "Watching The Detectives" 6/7/78, San Francisco, CA
Download: "Party Girl" 6/7/78, San Francisco, CA
Download: "I'm Not Angry" 6/7/78, San Francisco, CA

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