All that lay very much in what must have been an uncertain future when Costello arrived to cut My Aim Is True backed by transplanted Californian country-rockers Clover.

Someone coming fresh to the album thirty-something years later will more than likely hear it for what it is - a collection of songs, some of them outstanding, others pretty good and the odd one that doesn't quite come off. 

Fair enough, but that assessment, taken with a fair degree of hindsight, fails to take the times in which the album was released into account.

I know people keep banging on about a couple of classic eras of music, but unless you've been privileged to have lived through an era like the late sixties where every couple of weeks seemed to produce a new incandescent musical entity you're hardly likely to understand the ennui that had kicked in by the mid-seventies.

While Hughesy's financial and personal circumstances, taste for the grog and involvement with new non-musical interests were always going to cut back the rate at which albums were bought, the sheer simple fact of the matter was that when you went looking for interesting new stuff to listen to there wasn't much out there.

Much of that can be put down to the emergence of the album as the key ingredient in a band's recorded output. 

Where continued economic or commercial viability had once demanded a new single every few months, it was now possible for some to get by putting out an album every couple of years. 

When it came to studio time the tendency was to spend months working through various half-realised concepts where once you'd go in for a day to cut finished songs.

The punk rock explosion was one reaction to that situation, but from Hughesy's viewpoint it was one that came from the teenage noise end of the spectrum. Music, in other words, that was intended to get right up the nose of anybody outside the targeted demographic.


B© Ian Hughes 2012