Before we move forward, let circle back to what kicked off this latest discussion: My thinking that, if EC was sitting in his kitchen in Twickenham when he listening to himself being played on Charlie Gillett's show for the first time, as he recalls it in UM&DI, then August 15, 1976, seemed a little late for that, as I didn't think he still lived in Twickenham at that point. It turns our I was at least partly right about the timing being off, but not in the way I thought. While EC is clearly recalling this event happening, if nothing else, at an hour when the streetlamps were on, it turns out Gillett's show aired from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. So...
I'm going to chalk this up to both the malleability of memory and deliberate poetic license. I think EC really did remember it as he wrote it in UM&DI, and if at some point in the writing of that book he realized Gillett's show was on in the daytime, which I suspect he probably did, he still liked his version better and he was sticking with it. Which is all to say I'm putting a lot less confidence in EC's accurately recalling exactly what kitchen he was in at the time.
But we still have plenty of pieces of the puzzle to fit together. Like solving the equation: (Hoover Building + "Roadrunner" = "Hoover Factor" > "Radio Sweetheart") = Stiff demo tape.
I found this interview in the wiki that gives a pretty concise yet detailed version of the account EC has, as far as I know, always given about the period we've been examining. From Record Collector, September 1995 (http://www.elviscostello.info/wiki/inde ... ember_1995):
[About the Honky Tonk demos]
EC: Well, that was my official demo tape, the one that really got things started for me. It was made in my bedroom, on a friend's Revox. Before that, I'd sent out tapes I'd made on an old Grundig, which sounded pretty funky. I was sending out 20 songs at a time. I didn't know enough to realise that no publisher has the patience to listen to 20 songs, in the hope that the 18th one is the one that's good. They listen to the first song, and if it doesn't show great promise, they throw it away.
So by the time I made that tape,I had a pretty good idea from bitter experience that you had to make a presentation, just like putting on a show. I'd also been playing solo a lot, so I was much better at presenting my songs to hostile audiences, and winning them over.
So I made a little show reel, as it were, at home, of six songs, five of which still exist, and sent it off to various people. One of them was (Honky Tonk DJ) Charlie Gillett, who played it on the radio. That really got things going. I had several different people after my signature then, none of them aware of the others' existence. Charlie had a rather halting plan to sign me to his label, Oval Records while Virgin offered me a really pitiful deal — even then I knew enough to laugh at it. It was Stiff who had the initiative to say, "Let's do it now." It seemed almost magical after two or three years of getting really indifferent, or completely bewildered, responses to all the tapes I'd created.
The puzzle here is when the "now" is in Stiff's "Let's do it now".
Later in the same interview, he says, as he has many times before, that he was the first artist signed to Stiff. (Nick Lowe had the first record out, but wasn't actually on the label).
Does that mean he signed to the label before the Damned did? I assume the Damned had some contractual relationship with Stiff by the time their first single was released October 22.
Also in this interview, he talks about what I suggest henceforth be known as the "No Eric! demos".
I was writing songs very fast, and one day I went to Pathway Studios where Nick Lowe was producing a Wreckless Eric record. Wreckless was very nervous, so Nick took him for a drink to loosen him up a little bit, and I recorded eight songs while they were gone just guitar and voice. That was the bulk of the demos for My Aim Is True. Up until that point, Stiff had actually considered launching Wreckless and myself on the same record, like Chuck Meets Bo, with a side each. They didn't really think either of us could sustain a whole album, in terms of the audience's tolerance for two such unusual singers.
Then it became apparent that I had five times more songs than him, and that they needed to do a full album with me.
Let's take another try at our timeline, filling in the blanks we can now:
1.) Date unknown, sometime before August 15, 1976 -- EC sends demo tape to Gillett. Songs are "Cheap Reward" (then titled "Lip Service"), "Wave a White Flag", "Blame It on Cain", "Jump Up", "Mystery Dance", "Poison Moon".
2.) July 10, 1976 -- Palgrave House in Whitton, the block of flats where EC and family will soon live, officially opens.
3.) July 10 -- Sounds music weekly publishes special issue on "Punk", cover date July 17, 1976.
4.) August 7 -- Article on new record label, Stiff, appears in Melody Maker, cover date August 14, 1976.
5.) August 15 -- First (??) play of EC's demos on Gillett show. Plays "Cheap Reward" and "Wave a White Flag". In UM&DI, EC's recollection is he was living in the Twickenham flat. However, his recollection is also that this occurred at night, while in reality Gillett's show aired at midday, so he's evidently taking some degree of poetic license.
6.) Date unknown, but after EC is played on Gillett's show -- Gillett and EC discuss the possibility of EC putting a record out on Gillet's Oval label, but, in EC's accounts, these discussions drag on enough to try his patience, until Stiff has other plans for him.
7.) August 1976 (source Wikipedia), exact date unknown -- Modern Lovers album released, including "Roadrunner". In UM&DI, EC's specifically cites the Modern Lovers version of this song as inspiring "Hoover Factory". He also cites the Modern Lovers as an influence on his guitar playing on the Pathway demo (later released on MAIT) of "Mystery Dance".
8.) Date unknown -- EC and family can no long afford the Twickenham flat and move in with EC's wife's parents, the Burgoynes. His commute to work now takes him past the Hoover Building.
9.) Date unknown, but apparently after August 1 -- Inspired by seeing the Hoover Building every day and hearing "Roadrunner", EC writes "Hoover Factory". In UM&DI, he says this gets him "through the door" to a new kind of songwriting, more in tune with the "new mood in town", punk.
10.) Date unknown -- Next song EC writes after "Hoover Factory" is "Radio Sweetheart".
11.) Date unknown, but after August 7 and before September 17 -- EC has read about Stiff and is first artist to drop off a demo tape at their office. Songs are "Living in Paradise" , "Mystery Dance", "Radio Sweetheart", "Running Out of Angels", "Radio Soul".
12.) Date unknown -- After waiting "a week or so" (??), Stiff contact EC.
13.) September 17 -- EC, Nick Lowe, and some members of Clover record "Radio Sweetheart" and "Mystery Dance", perhaps as demos for Dave Edmunds' record. These are the versions released on MAIT. EC recollection is that he's living at Palgrave House in Whitton.
14.) September 20 -- The Damned record "Help" and "New Rose" at Pathway studio, with Nick Lowe producing.
15.) Dates unknown, after September 17 -- EC is writing new songs, taping them at home, and dropping these demos off at Stiff's office whenever he can, usually stopping by after work.
16.) October 11 -- Wreckless Eric drops off his demo tape at Stiff. Stiff like the tape and call Eric two days later to have him come back in to the office.
17.) Date unknown, but after October 11 -- Stiff contacts EC about recording more songs with members of Clover, not as songwriter's demos but for him as a recording artist, perhaps for an EP or half of a Bo-and-Chuck-type album with Wreckless Eric.
18.) Date unknown, but supposedly during Wreckless Eric's recording session at Pathway -- Hating the idea of sharing an album with Eric, EC sets out to bury it by recording solo demos for these songs at Pathway, supposedly while Eric was taking a break: "Welcome To The Working Week", "Blue Minute", "Miracle Man", "Waiting For The End Of The World", "Call On Me", "Red Shoes", "I Don't Want To Go Home", "I Hear A Melody".
19.) October 22 -- Stiff releases what is regarded as the first (UK) punk rock record, The Damned's "New Rose"/"Help". As much as EC was aware of the sea change in pop music caused by punk, he never heard any of it until records started being released.
20.) October 20 to November 19 -- Clover is on a UK tour opening for Thin Lizzy.
21.) November 15 to November 19 (exact date unknown) -- Oswald Mosley appears on the BBC1 television show "Tonight". This inspires EC to write "Less Than Zero".
22.) November or December, exact dates unknown, but after November 19 -- EC arranges and rehearses songs that become MAIT, with Clover, at Headley Grange outside of London.
23.) December 1976 and January 1977 -- EC records MAIT with Clover, Nick Lowe producing, at Pathway. EC recalls this as being 24 hours of total studio time, over six sessions, spaced over several weeks to accommodate EC's work schedule at Elizabeth Arden.
24.) January 26, 1977 -- Final mix of MAIT at Pathway studio.