Rear View: Elvis Costello My Aim Is True

While his aim may have been true, what he was aiming for is possibly open to debate.

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Regardless of the timing of the album's release and the fact that the label it was released on became associated with the punk/new wave movement, Elvis Costello was coming from the R&B/pub rock/The Band/Little Feat/Van Morrison end of the spectrum rather than the Sex Pistols/safety pin/torn T-shirt extreme.

It also seems quite likely that he saw My Aim Is True as his one and only shot at the big time. After all, there was nothing to indicate that thirty-four years after his debut album Costello would have parlayed a bunch of songs that, in his own words, reflected what was in his album collection at the time the songs were written into a discography that's bigger than many people's CD collection.

While My Aim Is True features songs that still feature regularly in Costello's live set (Red Shoes and Alison for example) there's still a fair chunk of what turned out to be inconsequential material there as well.

For another performer, or indeed another songwriter, the likes of Sneaky Feelings and Pay It Back may well have enjoyed repeated exposure in the set-list, but we're not talking just any songwriter. 

Early publicity material suggested that Costello wrote a new song every day, and while that might not have continued as a long-term production rate, a glance at the man's vast back catalogue suggests that it wasn't too far wide of the mark.

You also can't help suspecting that there's a fair chunk of influence from The Attractions in there on the subsequent flurry of activity that produced This Year's Model, Armed Forces, Get Happy! and Trust in quick succession, with the country covers album Almost Blue thrown in for good measure.


B© Ian Hughes 2012