Considering "Trust" Nearing Thirty Years

Pretty self-explanatory
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Jack of All Parades
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Considering "Trust" Nearing Thirty Years

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sun Aug 22, 2010 7:34 am

Sonnet 129

The expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and till action, lust
Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust,
Enjoy’d no sooner but despised straight,
Past reason hunted, and no sooner had
Past reason hated, as a swallow’d bait
On purpose laid to make the taker mad;
Mad in pursuit and in possession so;
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe;
Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.
All this the world well knows; yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.

William Shakespeare

Why the sonnet? Because in spending a stimulating time with the recent Shakespeare Sex & Love by Stanley Wells, this particular sonnet has stimulated my considerable appreciation for the album "Trust" and for EC's, in general, intelligent explorations, starting with this album, of human relations and sexuality, an exploration that is rarely equaled in recent pop songwriting except maybe by Stephin Merritt.

After "Get Happy", "Trust" is my next favorite EC album. It never fails to prick up my ears and get my brain and other organs racing[the puns are deliberate and in keeping with the sexual nature of this album]. It also contains some of the finest playing the Attractions ever mustered led by the inventive drumming of Mr. Thomas and the emergent and colorful piano playing[a real piano and not the farfisa electronic board] of Mr. Nieve. More importantly it has some of the strongest vocal efforts EC ever committed to vinyl-warm, sensitive and alert to the phrasing opportunities within an individual lyric. Mostly I enjoy the committed openness to sexuality-to its jealousies, to its insecurities, to its braggadocio, to its hurtfulness, to its sheer exhilaration.

This is the album where EC turns the head on the old songbook theme of romance as professed by people he stated his admiration for- Porter, Gershwin, Cahn- and openly refutes it with the salvo "Pretty words don't mean much anymore/I don't mean to be mean much anymore". The echoes to the old masters are there but they are subverted in a parody of 'meanness' as EC causes you to not 'trust' him lover to lover or even EC to listener. It is the elaboration in the songs on this album of the big theme he attributed to his musical efforts at the start of his career-a meanness based upon "revenge and guilt". It also helps to note that many of these songs derived from the writings of a teenager perhaps working out his sexual feelings with women. The songs are also lacking in an essential EC element for me, irony. They map a story of a man betrayed by avaricious and wily women but who at the same time is incapable of excusing himself for abhorrent behavior.

The songs themselves are suffused with alliteration and bad puns. Phrases are drawn out to the extreme as in the song "You'll Never Be a Man". Emotional and linguistic play changes abruptly in a given verse, even in a specific line. This is sophisticated fun. It is also the start of the deterioration of the EC written line as he begins a career long urge to pile on details in overlong lines like the eau de cologne couplet in "Watch Your Step", jamming in syllables to force a rhyme . Most songs are memorable- "Lovers Walk", You'll Never Be A Man", "Strict Time", "Watch Your Step", "New Lace Sleeves", Big Sister's Clothes", "Shot With His Own Gun" and "From a Whisper to a Scream" stand out for me. Only one fails to engage- "Luxembourg". This is intelligent pop music delivered with a passion and introspection that few equal. It provokes, opens wounds, picks at scabs and inflames old wounds. It makes you feel human.

"Trust" also starts a string of memorable 'love' songs over the years- "Kid About It', "Almost Blue', "Boy With a Problem", "You Little Fool", "Town Cryer", "Indoor Fireworks", "Everyday I Write the Book", "The Only Flame in Town", "Pads, Paws and Claws", "After the Fall", "Sweet Pear', "Blue Chair", "Just About Glad", " I Almost Had a Weakness", "I Want to Vanish", all of "Painted from Memory" and "North", "No Wonder", "Heart Shaped Bruise", "My Little Blue Window" and "Flutter and Wow" for starters. Any artist that wrote a tenth of these would have a strong career, a third and you have a memorable one. Where does that put EC? I think squarely at the top with a catalog that will be noted as an extremely intelligent and fearsome exploration of the relations between men and women in the latter twentieth century and early twenty first century. They all commenced for me with this seminal album[again pun-in nod to Shakespeare] intended.
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'

manoutoftime
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Re: Considering "Trust" Nearing Thirty Years

Postby manoutoftime » Sun Aug 22, 2010 12:30 pm

Take out Different Finger and Trust would have been my favourite EC album, good tune but it just doesn't fit the album in my opinion. Definetely the Atrractions best performance on record.

cwr
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Re: Considering "Trust" Nearing Thirty Years

Postby cwr » Sun Aug 22, 2010 12:59 pm

TRUST is really such a key album-- it feels like the beginning of nearly everything that followed. And while "Different Finger" wouldn't rank among my favorite EC songs, I'd argue that its inclusion here is sort of key to the "anything can happen" vibe of the album.

While MAIT, TYM, AF and GH showed a fair amount of range, and each album is different from the others, TRUST is really where Costello signaled that he wasn't going to be limited to a certain style, he was going to do what he wanted, when he wanted, even if it seemed slightly crazy. It's the template for later albums like Spike, BY, ATUB, Momofuku, probably others that I'm leaving out.

Plus, some of these songs are CRAZY, right? I mean, there's something absolutely nuts about parts of this album, and some of that might have to do with the fact that this was probably the point at which Costello was abusing drugs most heavily, and bringing himself to the edge of some kind of nervous breakdown. It never veers out of control or anything, but I'm not sure that The Attractions would ever sound this unhinged again. Even when they're playing unhinged songs on IB or B&C, it sounds a little less crazy than some of the playing on here, like they're slightly more in control of it.

I think Costello's music videos for Get Happy!! and Trust both really managed to capture the moods of those albums. The Get Happy!! ones look like they are taken from a low budget Hard Day's Night-type film featuring EC & The Attractions tearing through the streets of Holland; The Trust ones just manage to really create a sinister, cool world where the Trust songs live... I think it's no coincidence that Barney Bubbles directed those two...

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Re: Considering "Trust" Nearing Thirty Years

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sun Aug 22, 2010 1:43 pm

You are right CWR in that the variety of styles- Bo Diddley back beat, jazz lounge, country, old pop, etc. is a statement- it says I am not going to be confined to any one genre or perspective. I also do not abhor "Different Finger" as it too explores an aspect of human sexuality- a furtive dalliance- that I am glad he choose not to ignore. The difference for me between the other records you cite and this one is that this one succeeds admirably for me on many levels pretty much through its entirety. I recall with fondness the many songs from this album that he would perform live at the time. As to craziness- the subject matter I think is a big contributor-what drives a human being wilder than emotions?
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'

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Re: Considering "Trust" Nearing Thirty Years

Postby wordnat » Sun Aug 22, 2010 2:17 pm

TRUST is definitely EC's "drug" album; but for me it's no party -- what I hear more than anything is a sort of claustrophobic paranoia. I'll take IB's cleansing hangover any day....

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Re: Considering "Trust" Nearing Thirty Years

Postby Poor Deportee » Sun Aug 22, 2010 3:40 pm

Interesting thread. I always felt that 'Trust' was a very underrated album - one of those records that would be considered the high point of most other artists' careers. What I like most about it musically is that it's basically a very confident pop record in the vein of the later Beatles: informed by four-piece rock and roll and pop structures but not confined to them. (In this sense it resembles Momofuku, another album that works from a basic 'staple' pop/rock and roll sound without being inhibited by it). I agree with both christopher's assessment of it as 'sophisticated fun' AND wordnat's reading of it as 'claustrophobic paranoia.' It's in EC's nature as an artist to jam amusement and discomfort together.

There's a new kind of persona emerging on this album. Instead of the demented, leering Avenging Geek of TYM and Armed Forces, we're seeing a much more sophisticated, worldly personality with strong hints of a kind of sophisticated decadence as its underbelly: a more intense, rock/pop version of Cole Porter. This is actually my favourite of EC's personas, the guy staggering through the hysteria of 'Club Land,' painting absurdist landscapes of modern Britain with 'Fish n Chip paper,' sighing his elegant contempt for the decrepit monarchy in 'Big Sister's Clothes,' who goes on to his peak with 'Beyond Belief' and 'Almost Blue,' and later brings us 'Harry Worth' and 'Mr Feathers.'

Two songs I never liked: 'From a Whisper to a Scream' and 'White Knuckles.' Not that they're terrible, just uninspired. 'Different Finger' is a very strong little song and I don't see how people can question it, unless they have a bias against country music.

'Luxembourg' - nobody seems to like this song and in this case I understand why. The production is awful, the lyrics aurally incomprehensible. However, as a composition, I think it's just fine; really quite funny in that inimitable EC way.

LUXEMBOURG
Dressed up like a dog's dinner
Butter wouldn't melt on your paws
If this is a dog's life
Then you're the cat's clothes
They hire out your sons
And hire out your daughters
The man from abroad says he's already bought her
And now you look like a lover but you're only a tourist

You're either talking or yawning
You didn't listen to a thing you heard
Don't start your morning moaning or you might wake up in Luxembourg

You get up, you get over
You're worried by her body
She's worryin' about her bodily odour
You pull off
The pull over
You say that you love her when you really loathe her
Serves you right now she wants you to feed her and clothe her

They're smiling sweetly while they're looking daggers
Kick you where it really matters
Send all your friends to Coventry
And look for your name in last night's obituaries

If you've got the Deutschmarks
If you've got the Yen, then
You get the shirt off her back and the clock off Big Ben
Somebody's soft touch
Struck all these bargains
In the drinking clubs with the council men
Making plans to put lead back in their pencils again
When man has destroyed what he thinks he owns
I hope no living thing cries over his bones

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wardo68
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Re: Considering "Trust" Nearing Thirty Years

Postby wardo68 » Sun Aug 22, 2010 3:57 pm

Trust has been a favorite since I first heard it. Various things conspire to make it such a sentimental choice over the years, but I can pinpoint two things that make it stand out so much: a) plenty of piano and b) New Lace Sleeves. It has sit comfortably in my top five EC ever since.

For more excuses... http://everybodysdummy.blogspot.com/200 ... trust.html

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Re: Considering "Trust" Nearing Thirty Years

Postby Goody2Shoes » Sun Aug 22, 2010 8:32 pm

I haven't been around much in recent months, lurk around regularly but don't feel like I've got a lot to say, but wowee, Wardo, your blog is crazy fun and seriously impressive. Thanks.

However, to stay on topic may I affirm that yes, I love Trust, and I can't quite get my head around the fact that it's 30 years gone. I'm still trying to look Italian through the musical Valium fer chrissakes. It sounds as fresh to me now as it did then, when everything sounded fresh to my 17-year-old self. Not much has held up as well.
It's a radiation vibe I'm groovin' on

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Emotional Toothpaste
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Re: Considering "Trust" Nearing Thirty Years

Postby Emotional Toothpaste » Sun Aug 22, 2010 8:59 pm

Trust has always been one of my favorites, and especially like Luxembourg. Never understood more than a couple words, but loved its rowdiness.

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Re: Considering "Trust" Nearing Thirty Years

Postby Ypsilanti » Sun Aug 22, 2010 9:37 pm

Very interesting thread--clearly Trust is a popular favorite with everyone and I've been curious about why everyone loves it so much. I didn't hear it completely until 2008, although I had long wanted to. I'd seen it in record shops for years, with that amazing photograph on the cover--I was so excited when I finally got the Rhino.

I guess it was a mistake reading the liner notes before I listened to the CDs, but that's what I did and Elvis' negative tone and the story of his unhappy circumstances at the time really put a pall on the record for me. I could never connect with it and rarely replay it now. I would say it's my least favorite of all of them. Sure, it has some great songs, but for me, it also has more songs that I really despise than any other record. Songs that I would actually skip past? That's rare for me with an Elvis record, but that's the case for me with Trust. White Knuckles, You'll Never Be A Man, Fish & Chip Paper, Pretty Words, Luxembourg--and a few others--they're just not for me, I guess. All the self-loathing and that running theme about the crumbling marriage--it's too much. It's too specifically personal--he's too exposed. For me, it's a little icky, a little embarrassing to listen to. The lyrical content of the songs gets in the way of the amazing playing.

As usual, I'm sure I'm alone in this view. Probably, if I had heard Trust back in 1981, I would agree with the rest of you. I will be eternally sorry sorry that I didn't hear this, and many other Elvis albums, in real time.
So I keep this fancy to myself
I keep my lipstick twisted tight

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Re: Considering "Trust" Nearing Thirty Years

Postby cwr » Sun Aug 22, 2010 10:56 pm

It's funny, Ypsilanti-- though I would count TRUST as one of my favorite Costello albums, I don't entirely disagree with you in terms of the number of "skippable" tracks. Taking each track on its own individual merits, this album has a pretty high "miss" ratio, especially compared to the four previous albums. But for some reason, the album seems to add up to more than the sum of its parts.

Major Songs: Clubland, You'll Never Be A Man, Pretty Words, Watch Your Step, New Lace Sleeves, White Knuckles, Big Sister's Clothes

Oddball songs: Lover's Walk, Strict Time, Luxembourg, From A Whisper To A Scream, Different Finger, Shot With His Own Gun, Fish 'N Chip Paper

Now, I don't particularly DISLIKE any of the songs in the second category (and I'm sure many will personally disagree with this song or that one being categorized in such a way), but those are the songs I'm more likely to skip if they come up on my iPod. And yet, in the flow of the album itself, they all work. And the fact that, in my opinion, the seven tracks in the top category are stone cold classics does a lot to support the strangeness of some of the lesser tracks. They compliment each other very well, and the album is particularly well-sequenced. Each song seems to follow the next as if it were destined to be so...

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Re: Considering "Trust" Nearing Thirty Years

Postby Ypsilanti » Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:22 am

cwr wrote:It's funny, Ypsilanti-- though I would count TRUST as one of my favorite Costello albums, I don't entirely disagree with you in terms of the number of "skippable" tracks. Taking each track on its own individual merits, this album has a pretty high "miss" ratio, especially compared to the four previous albums. But for some reason, the album seems to add up to more than the sum of its parts.

Major Songs: Clubland, You'll Never Be A Man, Pretty Words, Watch Your Step, New Lace Sleeves, White Knuckles, Big Sister's Clothes

Oddball songs: Lover's Walk, Strict Time, Luxembourg, From A Whisper To A Scream, Different Finger, Shot With His Own Gun, Fish 'N Chip Paper


Now, I don't particularly DISLIKE any of the songs in the second category (and I'm sure many will personally disagree with this song or that one being categorized in such a way), but those are the songs I'm more likely to skip if they come up on my iPod. And yet, in the flow of the album itself, they all work. And the fact that, in my opinion, the seven tracks in the top category are stone cold classics does a lot to support the strangeness of some of the lesser tracks. They compliment each other very well, and the album is particularly well-sequenced. Each song seems to follow the next as if it were destined to be so...
Hmmm. You make some excellent points, CWR. Maybe it's just me. Maybe those gloomy liner notes just really put the stink on Trust for me. I'd better give it another try. I'm actually pretty fond of Clubland, Lover's Walk, Strict Time, Watch Your Step, New Lace Sleeves, From A Whisper To A Scream, Different Finger & Big Sister's Clothes. So I guess I already half like it. Just have to work on that other half...
So I keep this fancy to myself
I keep my lipstick twisted tight


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