Spike: 30 years ago

Pretty self-explanatory
sweetest punch
Posts: 3812
Joined: Sat Apr 03, 2004 5:49 am
Location: Belgium

Spike: 30 years ago

Postby sweetest punch » Fri Feb 08, 2019 1:27 am

Since you put me down, it seems i've been very gloomy. You may laugh but pretty girls look right through me.

Dr. Luther
Posts: 429
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2004 3:25 pm
Location: SF

Re: Spike: 30 years ago

Postby Dr. Luther » Fri Feb 08, 2019 3:02 am

Jesus.
30 years.


:|

johnfoyle
Posts: 14556
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2003 4:37 pm
Location: Dublin , Ireland

Re: Spike: 30 years ago

Postby johnfoyle » Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:33 pm

Which means its ten years since I posted this elsewhere on the this forum-


Spike is 20 years old , having been released on Feb.6 1989 . To mark that I tried, in early Jan'09, to get some reactions from the many musicians who guested on it. Most them have a web presence and I asked for,merely, a brief thought/memory/whatever. The response was poor ; a grand total of two .

Here,for what it's worth, they are .

Dónal Lunny


HI John,

my memories of recording with Elvis feel a lot more recent than 20 years. Being in the same space as Elvis brought home to me what a giant of a performer he is. His voice at normal pitch doesn't sound like it has much range. Then he cranks it up; it's as if it has to break out of a shell before it gets off the ground. And then when he goes for a high passage, out it comes as true and clear as a bell! Add to that his expression and his lyrics, and - as you already know - you have a very special artist.

I got a huge lift out of playing with him; powerful songs, pure conviction, great heart. Long may he flourish.

Best,
Dónal


Frankie Gavin

Hi John.
Elvis was a gentleman to work with and generous too.
I think it was my second collaboration outside of my Traditional Music background. The first one was with Phil Lynnot, and later with The Rolling Stones.
Working on Spike gave me a great kick start !!! Never looked back since !!
Thanks Elvis !!!
FG


If anyone else here want to persue this further - go for it!

Neil.
Posts: 1237
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2005 6:14 am
Location: London

Re: Spike: 30 years ago

Postby Neil. » Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:42 am

Nice little soundbites, John.

I remember seeing the press release for 'Spike' in the NME and being really excited. God, the wait since Blood & Choc had seemed like a lifetime!

It had a lot of coverage - I remember the Radio 1 Breakfast team going on about it, there was the Sarah McLeod interview, and I think there was a Radio 1 special about it. A massive interview in either the NME or Melody Maker.

As I always go on about, I think 'Deep Dark Truthful Mirror', with less surreal lyrics in the later sections, could have been a massive hit if it had been released as the lead single. But that's easy to say in hindsight! As Mr Getgood from this forum mentioned recently, it has such beautiful lyrics at the start.

Other faves for me are Last Boat Leaving, Satellite, This Town and Baby Plays Around. Must give it a (digital) spin again soon!

And defo one of his best album covers, along with This Year's Model, Trust and King of America.

johnfoyle
Posts: 14556
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2003 4:37 pm
Location: Dublin , Ireland

Re: Spike: 30 years ago

Postby johnfoyle » Mon Feb 11, 2019 3:14 pm

http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/201 ... nF1yZymkRs



NOW I’M DEAD, NOW I’M DEAD, NOW I’M DEAD, NOW I’M DEAD!

ELVIS COSTELLO’S SPIKE TURNS 30

BY ELIZABETH NELSON

FEBRUARY 9, 2019


Let’s discuss Spike by Elvis Costello, another curious album in a formidable catalog which is experiencing its 30th anniversary. By 1989, Costello was understandably listing a bit beneath the weight of his own legend. In his twelve-year recording career EC had rendered classic songs at an astonishing rate, rivaling the Beatles, Dylan and Holland-Dozier-Holland for sheer volume and excellence. Following a seemingly endless series of critical hits and relative commercial disappointments, his long-standing contract with Columbia Records had expired and he had moved on to Warner Brothers, where he hoped to resuscitate his erstwhile career as a hit-maker as well as a genius-auteur. At only 35, his trajectory had taken him through many iterations: folky, Randy Newman-obsessed pub rocker, speed-addled literary punk, spindly-legged New Wave icon, chamber music pop savant and Americana-besotted English cowboy poet. Now, on Spike, he was about to become all of those things at once, on a sprawling record as intermittently compelling as it is unwieldy and under-edited.

The album’s artwork makes for an unsubtle suggestion of Costello’s mindset at this juncture, picturing his leering, decapitated head painted in jester’s make-up and mounted on a wall plaque. Beneath it reads the rueful description: “The Beloved Entertainer”. The unsubtle message of an artist stalked and hunted and made into a trivial and horrific prize is an apt visual analog for the ensuing deluge of dyspeptic spleen-venting. The production, credited to Kevin Killen, T-Bone Burnett and Costello himself is tinny and peculiar and anxious. Synths ring out discordantly. guitars squall and a slightly nerve-jangling high-end persists through many of the tracks. It doesn’t sound like anyone’s idea of beautiful, but it suits the uneasy mood.

Costello imagined Spike as a new professional beginning and the results are mixed but intriguing. Let’s take a track-by-track look:

…This Town…

All clattering drums, stabbing keys and random character assassinations, this is an amusing opener which makes clear the tenor of Costello’s nasty mood. His reportage on seeing a scene peer perform live goes as such: “It was a song with a topical verse/ which I’m afraid he then proceeded to sing.” His own self-assessment as a polarizing curmudgeon hits even closer to the bone: “You’re nobody till everybody in this town/ Thinks you’re poison/ Got your number/ knows it must be avoided”. And in a chorus millions would not thrill to sing along to: “You’re nobody until everybody in this town thinks you’re a bastard.” Amazing he isn’t from DC. I love this song.

Let ‘Em Dangle

Much as Dylan re-engaged with direct protest music in the middle portion of his career with ‘”Hurricane” and “George Jackson”, this formidable slice of social-realist agitprop finds EC at his most explicitly political since Punch The Clock’s “Shipbuilding” and “Pills & Soap”. An impressively forensic narrative account of the 1953 hanging of a mentally incapacitated criminal, it renders its case persuasively and lays bare the multi-faceted tragedy of choosing revenge over forgiveness, with all the reverberations that ensue.

Deep Dark Truthful Mirror

An excellent Costello-song with a few dodgy verses (“A butterfly drinks a turtle’s tears”?), it begins with the insoluble proposition: “One day your going to have to face/ the deep dark truthful mirror/ and it’s going to tell you things that/ I still love you too much to say.” Cathartically soulful, joyously abetted by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, it reads like a particularly intense update of the Van Morrison classic His Band And Street Choir by way of three decades of failed psycho-analysis. A longtime concert fixture and for good reason.

Veronica

Costello wanted a genuine hit single on his new album, and “Veronica” did the trick, breaking into the US Billboard Top 20 and charting higher still at on the Album and Modern Rock Charts. And no fluke either: it’s a great song with an indelible descending chorus and a deceptively melancholy depiction of a geriatric woman struggling to hold on to the fading memories of her joyful past. Not exactly “Paradise City” in terms of youth culture outreach. This was another of Costello’s successful writing collaborations with Paul McCartney, whose own “Eleanor Rigby” casts a long shadow as do the arch but moving character studies of Ray Davies. Given their individual status as icons it’s understandable that the Costello-McCartney writing partnership lasted only a brief time, but songs like this one and “My Brave Face” from McCartney’s Flowers In The Dirt suggest these two could have made an awful lot of great music together.

God’s Comic

A strange and rather singular piece of musical-theater pastiche, this darkly amusing tale couples existential dread with wry cultural critique, and is undoubtedly the most cheerful song ever to contain the chorus: “Now I’m dead/ now I’m dead/ now I’m dead/ now I’m dead!” For five and half shaggy-dog minutes the tune drolly follows the escapades of the titular God’s Comic as he draws his last breath and ascends to amuse his maker. Elements of calypso and Dixieland jazz wander in and out. Someone’s playing xylophone. This absolutely should not work, and yet it does and wonderfully, and that’s why he’s the genius and we’re us.

Chewing Gum

Spike is off to an exceedingly strong start through five tracks – we might even be talking classic. Then we get to “Chewing Gum”. It’s not clear what this is supposed to be: a mid-tempo take on the contemporary R&B of the era? A cleaned up stab at PiL-style “Death Disco”? Or just a long lyric sheet song over a meandering jam session? Whatever the intention it fails to cohere into anything memorable. As Costello’s career progresses, these sort of half-formed excursions into genre tourism occur with greater frequency and more diminishing returns. One senses there might be an excellent song buried somewhere between the slap-bass and discordant horn charts, but he hasn’t bothered to find it in this instance, and this would have been better left as a mild curiosity and an outtake.

Tramp The Dirt Down

One of the angriest songs in the entire Costello catalog (which is sort of like saying one of the angriest bees in a shaken-up sack) this slow-burning anti-Thatcher protest number weds its malevolent, no-prisoners-taken lyric to a traditional Irish melody. Where “Shipbuilding” was a dexterous story-song whose anti-Colonial agenda was rendered with a decorous light touch, ”Tramp The Dirt Down” has no time for such subtleties. “When England was the whore of the world/ Margaret was her madam” goes one representative couplet, all of them leading to the desire to live long enough to stomp on the former PM’s grave. Costello deserves credit for his passion here – one imagines Phil Ochs in heaven saying “Dude, you gotta calm down!” – but I’ve never thought it amounted to a great song. Much like “Masters Of War”, the rage feels earned but the net effect is heavy-handed in the extreme. I can be persuaded otherwise and would be interested to hear others’ perspectives.

Stalin Malone

A curious instrumental foray into jazz fusion with a title that seems like it was auto-generated from Costello Mad Libs. The melody is neither fetching enough nor the arrangements or playing sufficiently inspired to justify its four plus minute run-time. I appreciate that EC is a musical polymath and his sundry dives into jazz have yielded satisfying results from the Chet Baker-inspired track “Almost Blue” to the hybrid horns-and-chamber-music Bacharach-collaboration Painted From Memory to his own cocktail piano mood piece North. This just feels like something he stuck on a record to fill time, or show off, or both.

Satellite

A handsome deep-catalog ballad of the sort that Costello pulls of so regularly that it can become much too easy to take for granted. A cousin to Imperial Bedroom character studies like “Kid About It” and “You Little Fool” as well as a worthy companion piece to Lou Reed’s “Satellite Of Love”, this is a three-act romance in an efficient-feeling 5:44, which makes far better use of his trad-jazz leanings than the previous track. Lots of fine lyrics with this zinger being a particular favorite: “In the hot unloving spotlight, with secrets it arouses/ Now they both know what it’s like inside a pornographer’s trousers”. Strong song.

Pads, Paws & Claws

This is a fun, lightweight, bluesy romp through degenerate nightlife, albeit of the sort he did better and more persuasively on the King Of America tracks “Lovable” and “The Big Light”. It is a curse of Costello’s genius that it seems like he could turn this kind of thing out like addressing a letter. Not a bad song, but one we’ve heard better versions of.



Baby Plays Around


At some point – and I think this is important – Costello got the idea that he was a great, golden-throated crooner, of the Bing Crosby or Sarah Vaughn variety. As a person with a profound admiration for his vocal tone and peerless phrasing, I’m not sure why this idea took root and was allowed to metastasize. This is a lovely piece of subtle writing from the perspective of a cuckolded-spouse, which Elvis proceeds to absolutely murder by dint of a few shrieky forays into the outer limits of his vocal range. There are times as his career has progressed that it can almost seem like he is attempting to replace the aggression of his punk roots with a full-on assault on singing. I wish someone (T-Bone??) would remind him how his hero Rick Danko handled “It Makes No Difference” and suggest he do likewise.

Miss Macbeth

As with Blood & Chocolate’s “Tokyo Storm Warning”, this is an impressive piece of writing that forgets to be actually enjoyable. Kitchen-sink production and a clunky arrangement set the backdrop for this nightmare character study of a truly wicked woman (Thatcher again, one assumes). There are a number of intriguing lyrics as always, my favorite being: “Into a puzzle where petrol will be poisoned by rain/ Miss Macbeth saw her reflection/ As confetti bled its colors down the drain”. Ultimately it scans as both overly-long and strangely unfinished. Would have been better served being taken back to the drawing board or left as an outtake.

Any King’s Shilling

A well-rendered ballad on an album which features a couple too many, this is a pacifist’s call to refuse military service, reminiscent in theme and execution to the great Richard Thompson meditation “Beat The Retreat”. The violin even gives it a Mekons feel. At a luxurious six minutes it probably should have been the album closer.

Coal Train Robberies

A very good song, sequenced very curiously in the pen-ultimate spot of a fifteen track record which should almost definitely have been 11 or 12. But this is a catchy bit of noir-rock whose insistent chorus and verge-of-apocalypse lyrics make it something of a sped-up sequel to Dylan’s “Foot Of Pride”. I’m particularly partial to: “So many good deeds/ so little time/ say the advertising agency swine”.

Last Boat Leaving

Part of the revelatory fun of the 90’s-era Ryko reissues of Costello’s records in expanded editions was the sheer welter of great to interesting outtakes that were included in the various packages. Part of the excitement that came in seeing great songs like “Big Tears” and “Stranger In The House” relegated to outtake status was the realization of both Costello’s otherworldly prolificness and his talent as a rigorous and insightful editor of his own work. On Spike, that begins to change. This is a fine and thematically rational set-closer but it comes after several similar mid-tempo numbers and struggles to distinguish itself from its side two predecessors. It might well feel more memorable in a different context.

Ultimately, Spike served its intended purpose of repositioning Costello as a commercially viable hit-maker, at least in the immediate term. “Veronica” introduced him to a new generation of record buyers, and the album sold briskly. Thirty years on, it remains unwieldy – bursting with inspiration and yet seemingly untethered from the intense discipline that made his early classics astonishing examples of literary economy.

In some ways this was the end of the first phase of Costello’s career and an indication of the artist as we would need to grow to love him. There was much great music to made in his future, but the experience would be more diffuse and rambling. Brief jolts of raucous energy found on records like Brutal Youth and When I Was Cruel were quickly ameliorated by often trying and occasionally wonderful forays into country, jazz and classical. He was his own man and happy to chase his muse down any rabbit hole it might lead him. I’ve been down a number of those rabbit holes with him and am grateful for the experience, but if I’m being completely candid, I miss the days of EC Mach One. You could argue that the first side of Spike is the last time we ever saw that guy.

johnfoyle
Posts: 14556
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2003 4:37 pm
Location: Dublin , Ireland

Re: Spike: 30 years ago

Postby johnfoyle » Mon Feb 11, 2019 3:15 pm

Mark Perry commented on Facebook -

I think this was the first Costello album where I had to try to hide a nagging sense of disappointment. It seems such a "cold" record, almost like he's gone for an off-kilter Tom Waits feel in places but ended up with something sterile and unlovely (the opposite of what Tom Waits usually achieves with his weird alchemy). This was the first EC offering that reflected the dawning of the CD era, and the temptation to cram too much into the available running time was, sadly, not resisted. Bizarrely, 'Spike' was a massive hit, but the big production budget was counter-productive in some ways. I bet this one has sat, dusty & unplayed, for years in many a CD rack. A good helping of the tracks seem over-thought when they might have benefited from being bashed out Nick-Lowe-style.


I'm not sure about the instrumentation - it's almost like he had the money to go and and get some of the people whose work he admired and then had to bend a few songs out of shape in order to accommodate them. Some great numbers got trampled underfoot by that odd "backwards" layering of the recording process. My biggest disappointment was 'Any King's Shilling' which I had assumed would be his next classic. On the album it turned out to be an awful dirge. Even more gruelling is 'Tramp The Dirt Down', which seems to last for several hours, and for which a perfectly serviceable song got cannibalized and lost. 'Verronicker' sets my teeth on edge in a different way, even though it's a lovely lyrical idea. Likewise, I detest 'Deep Dark Truthful Mirror' (though I've never had a problem with the oft-maligned observation about butterflies' drinking habits).

Having had a good old moan, I should say that there is a lot I do enjoy on 'Spike'. Over the years, 'Miss Macbeth' has emerged as my favourite. It has some of his best lyrics - the lines leading up to the first chorus are sublime. 'Satellite' and 'God's Comic' are great, too. '...This Town...' would have been even better if he'd kept the full title

bobbydriver
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2018 9:26 am

Re: Spike: 30 years ago

Postby bobbydriver » Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:11 am

I had an old vinyl copy that I sold on back when the deluxe CD was reissued (pre the vinyl resurgence I had a stupid rule that I would sell any record that I had on CD..)

Quite by chance I picked up a VG+ vinyl copy this week for £8 (I'm now re-buying the Costello LPs as I realise how much I miss the original form when it's not outweighed by a million "bonus" tracks)

The first thing that struck me was how thin it all sounded. Then I realised that there is over 30 minutes of music on each side - wow! No wonder the vinyl mastering suffered. Absolutely no way anyone would cram that much music on to a single side. As a good example, the Look Now vinyl spreads the same length of music over 4 sides

Attention span-wise - even back then I think it suffered from being too long. I guess that's just how it was in the new CD age

User avatar
verbal gymnastics
Posts: 11534
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2003 6:44 am
Location: here at Traitors Gate

Re: Spike: 30 years ago

Postby verbal gymnastics » Wed Feb 13, 2019 2:04 pm

Spike is not one of my favourite albums and Mark Perry says everything I’d want to say except in a much better way.

Elvis had been given a big budget so he put it to use.

It’s not an album I visit often.
It’s such a shame you had to break the heart you could have counted on

sulky lad
Posts: 1724
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2005 5:21 pm
Location: Out of the kitchen,she's gone with the wind

Re: Spike: 30 years ago

Postby sulky lad » Thu Feb 14, 2019 9:01 am

VG wrote
Spike is not one of my favourite albums and Mark Perry says everything I’d want to say except in a much better way.

Elvis had been given a big budget so he put it to use.

It’s not an album I visit often.[/quote]
My thoughts exactly, we could be telepathic twins !

chickendinna
Posts: 90
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2005 10:44 am

Re: Spike: 30 years ago

Postby chickendinna » Thu Feb 14, 2019 9:14 am

I don't remember the last time I played Spike. The album left me cold. I think Elvis was a bit too clever on this release. I understand the Tom Waits comparisons but only Tom Waits can do Tom Waits.

User avatar
verbal gymnastics
Posts: 11534
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2003 6:44 am
Location: here at Traitors Gate

Re: Spike: 30 years ago

Postby verbal gymnastics » Thu Feb 14, 2019 10:24 am

sulky lad wrote:VG wrote
Spike is not one of my favourite albums and Mark Perry says everything I’d want to say except in a much better way.

Elvis had been given a big budget so he put it to use.

It’s not an album I visit often.


My thoughts exactly, we could be telepathic twins ![/quote]

You’re already the brother I never wanted :lol: :lol: :lol:
It’s such a shame you had to break the heart you could have counted on

sulky lad
Posts: 1724
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2005 5:21 pm
Location: Out of the kitchen,she's gone with the wind

Re: Spike: 30 years ago

Postby sulky lad » Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:43 pm

VG wrote :
You’re already the brother I never wanted :lol: :lol: :lol:]


One in every family ! :wink:

sheeptotheslaughter
Posts: 617
Joined: Thu Nov 27, 2008 10:51 am

Re: Spike: 30 years ago

Postby sheeptotheslaughter » Fri Feb 15, 2019 2:31 am

I played Spike for the first time in years last week to coincide with the 30 year anniversary. I think it is a great album. I could probably live without chewing gum, Stalin Malone and pads paws and claws. As a couple have said it does suffer a little bit with the having to have filler on there to fill a CD.

Last Boat Leaving is one of my favourite Elvis songs. Although it is not what the songs about it makes me think of when I got divorced ( we split in 1990) and the lyric 'you've taken the place where I once belonged now what more can you take' is one of my favourite Elvis lines.

Those who know me will know the story had a happy ending meeting the current Mrs Sheep.

bobbydriver
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2018 9:26 am

Re: Spike: 30 years ago

Postby bobbydriver » Fri Feb 15, 2019 4:51 am

sheeptotheslaughter wrote:I played Spike for the first time in years last week to coincide with the 30 year anniversary. I think it is a great album. I could probably live without chewing gum, Stalin Malone and pads paws and claws. As a couple have said it does suffer a little bit with the having to have filler on there to fill a CD.


Funnily enough after my earlier post about it being overly long I was considering which tracks I'd have cut for the LP. Stalin Malone and Chewing Gum definitely - as fun as that brass section is, they are far more form than substance. Pads, Paws & Claws I quite like, although it is a bit silly. Miss MacBeth is the other one I'd drop.

That would leave a punchy 10 song album - 45 minutes almost exactly (that your mates could copy nicely on one side of a C90!)

Neil.
Posts: 1237
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2005 6:14 am
Location: London

Re: Spike: 30 years ago

Postby Neil. » Sat Feb 16, 2019 4:22 am

sheeptotheslaughter wrote:Last Boat Leaving is one of my favourite Elvis songs. Although it is not what the songs about it makes me think of when I got divorced ( we split in 1990) and the lyric 'you've taken the place where I once belonged now what more can you take' is one of my favourite Elvis lines.

Those who know me will know the story had a happy ending meeting the current Mrs Sheep.


Yeah, Sheep, I love this song, too. The arrangment is terrific - the melancholy vocal and lyric. And the melody! Love it.

I am one of the few people who seem to like Chewing Gum. Another classic Elvis lyric about a sleazy people! Might be better with a smoother funk vocalist, but God bless 'im for trying!

sweetest punch
Posts: 3812
Joined: Sat Apr 03, 2004 5:49 am
Location: Belgium

Re: Spike: 30 years ago

Postby sweetest punch » Fri Feb 22, 2019 2:58 pm

http://ultimateclassicrock.com/elvis-costello-spike/

30 Years Ago: Elvis Costello Closes Out the ’80s With ‘Spike’

"Basically, it's a comedy record."

"Many of these songs are tragicomic," Elvis Costello told NME following the release of his 12th studio album, Spike, on Feb. 14, 1989. "They're born of the idea that things are, have become, so absurd that laughter is the only response. ... Some people have enough and reach for a hand grenade, I put it into my songs. ... It's that moment when you don't know whether to laugh or kick the TV in."

Costello's career had had its share of absurd moments during the years leading up to Spike, including the deepening rifts that led to the disbandment of his longtime cohorts the Attractions, as well as Costello's somewhat peculiar practice of crediting himself under several different names on the same album. Following the release of his previous LP, 1986's Blood & Chocolate, fans didn't know what his real identity was anymore -- was he still Elvis, was he Declan Patrick Aloysius MacManus, or was he Napoleon Dynamite?

That schizophrenic approach helped inform the sessions for Spike, which took place in four far-flung locations (Los Angeles, New Orleans, Dublin and London) with multiple personnel groups. Joining him at various points were an assortment of famous names, including Paul McCartney, Allen Toussaint, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Roger McGuinn, Benmont Tench and Mitchell Froom.

But as Costello stressed during an interview with On the Street, "I didn't really think of it as an all-star cast, I'll say that off the bat. There's obviously a couple of names there that everyone's going to talk about when the record comes out, and their parts are essential to the whole, but there are people who did more work on the record, and I think that should be acknowledged."

Costello's most attention-getting collaborator, McCartney, raised eyebrows for a couple of reasons -- first, because he was a former Beatle and one of the biggest rock stars on the planet, and second, because many onlookers felt McCartney's middle-of-the-road '80s output made him an odd fit for the younger, more restless Costello. It's hard to understand now, but at the time, McCartney was considered washed up.

"I was ... concerned that people might misunderstand my using the traditional forms like the Dirty Dozen brass band from New Orleans and the traditional Irish instruments, and might think it was like a musical travelogue. Because I can justify every note on the record, I know exactly why those sounds are there, I think they really illuminate those songs," Costello argued to On the Street. "I haven't had time to consider what anyone's going to think about it. I know some people have very bad preconceptions about Paul McCartney, but I'm involved to the extent that I've written a bunch of songs with him as well. I know he's a really good bass player, so I'm not too bothered about what anyone thinks about him playing on my record. I don't think it reflects at all on my perception of myself as a songwriter."

"I know more of his music than cynical people might expect," he told NME when the subject of McCartney's involvement came up. "When we first went to America and it was Foreigner and Journey and all that layered, sugary, anthemic s---, Wings' stuff like 'With a Little Luck' or 'Dancing Queen' was like manna from heaven. ... A lot of his post-Beatles work is not to my taste. We had to accommodate the difference."

Their songwriting sessions produced a dozen songs, two of which -- "Pads, Paws & Claws" and "Veronica" -- ended up on Spike. The latter track, a deceptively sunny number about an elderly woman sliding into dementia, served as the record's first single -- and gave Costello a rather unlikely Top 20 hit.

"I wanted to write a song about this old person sitting there and appearing to be completely gone, as we say, but really coming and going and sometimes being completely lucid -- but not making it a sentimental song," Costello explained to the BBC. "I wanted it to be sort of defiant and happy, as if it was about a very young girl who was just starting out her life."
Since you put me down, it seems i've been very gloomy. You may laugh but pretty girls look right through me.

Miclewis
Posts: 143
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 8:21 am
Location: Connecticut

Re: Spike: 30 years ago

Postby Miclewis » Fri Feb 22, 2019 5:23 pm

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that Spike was my first Elvis Costello album. I can’t believe it has 30 years.

I originally bought it (on the release date) because of Paul McCartney’s involvement. I remember being struck first at Elvis’ terrific vocals. It wasn’t long before I was exploring Elvis back catalog - and I have been hooked ever since.

I’m not sure if Spike holds up musically as well as many of Elvis’ other albums. I do love the literary themes of the album; it’s all about opposites - rich & poor, comedy & tragedy, etc.I love how it starts with a song from a rich person’s point of view, and ends with that of someone desperately poor.

Plus is gets all tied up with the devil imagery. The devil (dark fool) being the truth teller. The cover alone is brilliant - the cartoonish clown imagery with the WB logo, the upside cross on his face, etc.

I think after all these years, my favorite songs are “Chewing Gum” and “Last Boat Leaving”.


Return to “Elvis Costello General Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 21 guests