We continue on with our seventies theme but instead move forwards a few years and into London with Elvis Costello's second album, his first with The Attractions, This Year's Model, from 1978.
You may notice that the album's picture above is cropped on the left hand side and features a printers' colour bar on the right hand side - this was deliberate from the designer, Barney Bubbles and a popular technique at the time. There was also a little message pressed between the holding spirals on Side One - it read "Special pressing No. 003. Ring 434 32 32. Ask for Moira for your prize". Indeed, if people rang this number, they would be greeted by the aforementioned 'Moira' who was a press agent at Radar Records and rewarded with a badge for their dedication. If only more albums had this subtle quirkiness these days.
Opener No Action is two minutes of some furious drumming from the brilliant Pete Thomas and the song itself is insanely quick and punchy, detailing a frosty time in the speaker's relationship and how they've seemingly reverted to friends. The fury that Costello feels is indeed exemplified through the song's duration of dead-on two minutes. This Year's Girl is one of two songs that form the title of the album and specifically, it talks about certain things that men are attracted to in women and he talks about this in his autobiography:"Everything in the song is about how the way men see woman and what they desire from them. If there is a lie being told, then it is the one that a girl might be prepared to live or tell in order to live up to some false ideal of attraction.".
There's an awful lot of funky tracks on this album, such as lead single Pump it Up that portrays Costello's love for double entendres, portraying his addictions to a certain woman and how he constantly wishes to engage in intimate acts with them. Rather interestingly, this song is alleged to have been written whilst Costello was sitting in the fire escape of his Newcastle hotel on tour in 1977. One of the album's main highlights is the brilliantly skittish Lipstick Vogue and its insanely high energy. There's barely a moment for any member of the Attractions, nor Costello to catch his breath as everything all comes in at once - the absolutely fantastic bassline from Bruce Thomas and what must be commended highly is the erratic drumming from Pete Thomas. Both of these parts set the foundation for what is, personally speaking, the album's best offering.
In conclusion, This Year's Model is a versatile collection of songs that incorporate funk, energy and emotion to create what is an absolutely fantastic album. Having only recently been listening to Elvis Costello, there really is no finer introduction to his work than this.
If you want to pick up a copy, I’ll leave an Amazon link here: https://amzn.to/334Iyma
Or, if you’d prefer, here’s a Spotify link:
More musical magnificence to come next week!
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