Contempoary reviews of Elvis/Washington '78

Pretty self-explanatory
johnfoyle
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Contempoary reviews of Elvis/Washington '78

Postby johnfoyle » Sun Feb 24, 2008 2:17 pm

http://www.elviscostello.info/wiki/inde ... Washington

I've been researching Elvis' Dublin/Belfast shows from March '78 , with the intention, to mark their 30th anniversary, of inflicting the results on you all. I've got quite a bit of material , the exercise being made even more interesting in reading all the surrounding news that has been popping up in microfilm/bound volumes of Irish 'papers from the time.

The forthcoming TYM re-issue will , as we know, have the Feb. 28 1978 Washington DC show as a extra. Looking through my cuttings I find no actual accounts of the show. I know it's leaving it a little late to mark the actual anniversary - only four days to go - but has anyone here got access to print media from the time? I'm guessing there may be have been accounts/reviews in , perhaps, the Washington Post/ Rolling Stone/Creem/Crawdaddy. None of it seems to be on the 'net. Maybe some of the more elder lemons here might like to have rummage in their attics etc.

I know it's a long shot etc. but , hey, you never know!

Dr. Luther
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Re: Contempoary reviews of Elvis/Washington '78

Postby Dr. Luther » Mon Feb 25, 2008 1:09 am

Well -- I was clipping EVERYTHING starting late '77 forward, and I'm fairly certain that I never saw an account of that specific show. (That would include NME, MM, & Sounds.)
When I finally get around to rummaging through the pile, however, I should have some gems, I would think.

johnfoyle
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Re: Contempoary reviews of Elvis/Washington '78

Postby johnfoyle » Mon Feb 25, 2008 1:56 am

Robert on listserv has found this -

http://tinyurl.com/2opdat

The Washington Post (1974-Current file) - Washington, D.C.
Author: -- Tom Zito
Date: Mar 1, 1978
Start Page: B12
Pages: 1
Section: STYLE Entertainment People Comics
Text Word Count: 279

Anyone who feared that Elvis Costello might just be another brief flashy chord in the great amplifier of rock 'n' roll was in for a nice jolt at the Warner Theatre last night, when the tweeky little British Buddy Holly lookalike had a sold-out crowd storming the stage.


To get the rest you have to buy it , $44.95 for a unframed copy. I think I'll wait and see if any of you can track it down in a public library/personal cuttings folder.

johnfoyle
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Re: Contempoary reviews of Elvis/Washington '78

Postby johnfoyle » Mon Feb 25, 2008 6:50 pm

Dave on listserv has come up with the goods...and then some!

In response to John's question, I searched through the musty archives and found three reviews of the Warner Theater show from the time.

Here's the full Washington Post review, by Tom Zito, dated 3/1/78


"Anyone who feared that Elvis Costello might be just another brief flashy chord in the great amplifier of rock 'n' roll was in for a nice jolt at the Warner Theatre last night, when the tweeky little British Buddy Holly lookalike had a sold out crowd storming the stage.

Costello has matured remarkably in the three months since he first hit these shores, transformed from a frenetic gunslinger with an electric guitar virtually hiding behind his microphone into the rabble-rousing entertainer who made his debut in Washington yesterday.

If the crowd was hesitant at first, Costello remedied that quickly, taking off his Stratocaster and hopping down into the audience. Two minutes later they were his, crunched up against the bottom of the stage and swaying to the raucous rhythms of "Mystery Dance."

On a second encore of "Blame it on Cain", Costello launched into the only real guitar solo of the evening, whipping out machine-gunned bursts that echoed the power of the Band's Robbie Robertson?on Bob Dylan's legendary tour of England in the mid 60's.

It is not an overstatement to say that Costello has that kind of power, the kind of resilient energy that infused groups like the Rolling Stones and the Who in rock's mid 60's heyday.

What particularly sets Costello apart from the rest of what's happening now are his clever, articulate lyrics and his seemingly prolific nature: About half the material in last night's show was new. He's not only playing real rock 'n' roll, but he sings to be singing about something the obviously matters to him, more than almost anybody else now performing."



The now defunct Washington Star was less impressed, in this review by Charlie McCollum, entitled "Let's Let Elvis Costello Have his Fun--And Last Night He Did" (3/1/78)

"Depending upon which account one reads, Elvis Costello is just another British punk rocker, a throwback to rockabilly, a sham or the new savior of rock 'n' roll. Different people see different things in the man's personality and music, making Costello the sort of mystery man the public seems to adore.

Last night, Costello finally came to Washington and he proved no mystery at all. He is not an obvious throwback to rockabilly or a real punker or a notable sham. He certainly is not the new savior of rock 'n' roll.

Despite all claims to the contrary, Costello is not much more than a reincarnation of early 1960s British rock.He is really even more limited than that, since his roots come out of long-forgotten English bands like the Dave Clark 5 and their American counterparts like ? and the Mysterians. Only his lyrics--which can be sharp and amusing--show any sophistication beyond the run of the 1960s Liverpool mill.

Not that Costello isn't entertaining. In fact, last night's show at the Warner Theater was a lot of fun and the sold out crowd ate it up for the most part. More than a few curiosity seekers bolted to the doors early, but most of the audience cheered and yelled throughout the set.

According to people who have followed the tour, Costello can be either very entertaining or very bad--most often, the latter. Apparently, Washington got the good Elvis Costello last night.At least, the show wasn't as peculiar as Costello's appearance on "Saturday Night Live" a while back.

The problem may be that the American rock press--and Costello's record label--is trying to make more out of the man than is artistically possible or fair. Costello has written some notable tunes like "Less than Zero" and "Alison", but much of his material seems intently ludicrous postering (ed: posturing?).A couple of tunes offered last night in a quasi-early Who style were downright laughable in their attempt to project a latter-day Jimmy Porter image.

For the most part, last night's audience cheered not the anger Costello presents but the artist's driving energy and his often clever hooks. It's doubtful that many of Costello's American fans have the vaguest notion what the hell the man is talking about. They just like his spunky melodies and repeatable choruses.

To make matters worse--or better, depending on your point of view--Costello and his "band", the Attractions, play just about as well as the Dave Clark 5 or ? and the Mysterians. Although an acceptable singer, Costello himself churns away on lead guitar to no particularly notable purpose. The other three musicians rank in competence with a mediocre high school band.? The keyboard man tosses off organ riffs that would have embarrassed even the Mysterians back in 1965.

The level of incompetence was most evident on tunes like "Less than Zero", which have some reggae influences. As poor as the Attractions are at rock, they're worse at reggae, even when dealing only in overtones.

It's always nice to see rock that is fun. Of late, rock has lost a lot of its cosmic chuckle--one of its essential ingredients. Intentionally or not, Costello has reestablished at least a measure of that fun.

Still, let's not saddle the artist with anything more than that. Allow him to have his fun and avoid making him into the "new" anybody. Saviors of rock 'n' roll have a funny way of being turned into has-beens overnight."


Whew! The third review I found was from a student newspaper, from the George Washington University Hatchet.
It's by Jeff Levey, and entitled "Elvis Costello Remains True to the Aims of Warner Crowd."

"Elvis Costello could be the savior of Great Britain. If he could tap all the energy within himself and inside the bodies of those who frequent his concerts, all that country's energy problems would be solved.

The role of savior, however, would probably not satisfy Costello. "Next time I come to Washington," the pigeon-toed, scrawny rock classicist proclaimed from the stage of the Warner Theatre last Tuesday, "I'm bringing an army to destroy this place." Don't underestimate him,. He has the power.

(I'm editing out reviews of the album here)

Yet the energy stored up in Costello was seeded by rage as is most evident by his stage appearance. His narrow lapels and ties, cuffed jeans, horned rim glasses and battered guitar make Costello appear like a remnant of the fifties. But his complex lyrics, powerful beat and goofy stage manner make for a change from the nice boy image of the golden era.

This is no nice boy. When the music begins to move, he only wiggles his knees and his tongue.So all that rage, all that pent-up anxiety and passion, emerges from his mouth. In concert Costello is a powerhouse, but you wouldn't know it from watching him; one has to listen.

But then few actions are needed to excite the thousands of fans Costello has generated in less than a year of public exposure. The sellout crowd at the Warner went wild at Costello's every movement, which only included an infrequent twitch of an eyebrow or strum of the guitar. The crowd's energy finally burst as it rushed to the front of the theater and up against the stage when the 1 1/2 hour set came to a close. Costello's spunky melodies, repeatable choruses and odd looks left no one disappointed.

The fast moving set included few of Costello's familiar material from the album, but proved that, unlike Bruce Springsteen, this new star on the rock scene has enough material to stick it out a few years.

One new tune, "Miracle Man", which alluded to something called the Academy of Garbage, was the most notable. It possessed the same driving rhythm of most cuts on the album and included the humorous lyrics that mark most of Costello's songs.

(editing out some more general overview of the man's work here...)

Now, don't get me wrong. Costello is no God, and he does have some faults. Most of these can be found with his band, the Attractions, who might have some musical ability, but refused to show any of it Tuesday night. Costello also left few in awe at his guitar work.

Obviously, what has brought Costello this far, and what will carry him even further to rock immortality, is his own personality and presence. As seen in his last encore, which had Costello alone on the stage, he turns on an audience with little help from his friends."




Well, there you have it. Hard to believe the Attractions got raked over the coals so badly! Also have to wonder if the student reviewer took some of his cues from the Star's review on that note, especially since he cited "spunky melodies" and "repeatable choruses" just like the Star already had.

The descriptions of the crowd are pretty accurate. I was in the 4th row, and while I was a fan of MAIT, and had jumped on the tickets as soon as they went on sale, thereby getting great seats (five dollars each!!!), I was bemused by EC's stage persona at the time. While the folks in the center seats with me pretty much stayed seated, there were a bunch of people in the side aisles against the wall, being held back by security, and screaming when Elvis did anything. A lot of girls. At 19, I was astonished that this guy was getting this kind of feedback from the female contingent. Elvis did in fact jump down, not into the audience, but the orchestra pit. The Warner had a semi-circle pit in front of the stage then, and during Detectives he hopped down there and approached the edges of the audience. That really got folks riled up. For the encores, of which there were three (very unusual back then), everyone got on their feet and pushed toward the stage.

I've told this story before, in Beyond Belief, but after the 2nd encore, a lot of folks left, the house lights came up, and by then I could get right up to the stage, maybe one person ahead of me. Elvis came back out, stood at the end of the stage, stage right, plugged into an amp and did the encore of "Chemistry Class" that has previously been released on Rhino.It was an amazing moment, the beginning of a 30 year obsession for me.Let's see if the new reissue leaves in the drunken guy who shouted, after Elvis finished the song and said Goodnight, "You son of a bitch!Come baaaaaaack!" Rhino used my reel to reel tape of the FM broadcast for their version, and edited that guy out.

The other thing that ties in to the show for me was buying the British TYM about three weeks later, and hearing all these songs I half-remembered from the show at the Warner. It was so cool.


Dave

PS I had to look up "Jimmy Porter" to see who McCollum was talking about. Apparently that's the name of the angry young man in "Look Back in Anger."

johnfoyle
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Re: Contempoary reviews of Elvis/Washington '78

Postby johnfoyle » Mon Feb 25, 2008 7:01 pm

Here's the full Washington Post review, by Tom Zito, dated 3/1/78


A google search tells me Tom Zito is now Chairman & CEO of Integrated Media Measurement, Inc.. Before Dave got the text I e-mailed him asking for his memories.

He replied -

John -

I did review the show (remember it well; it was at the Warner
Theater, where the Stones also played once, billed as the
"Cockroaches"...), but I neither have a copy of the piece nor do I
have access to it...

Good luck.

-TZ


http://www.immi.com/aboutUs.html

I've now sent him the text and a link to here.

sabreman
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Re: Contempoary reviews of Elvis/Washington '78

Postby sabreman » Mon Feb 25, 2008 11:41 pm

The Unicorn Times was the Washington, DC music weekly at that time. They might have had a review of the show.

FAVEHOUR
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Re: Contempoary reviews of Elvis/Washington '78

Postby FAVEHOUR » Tue Feb 26, 2008 10:38 am

sabreman wrote:The Unicorn Times was the Washington, DC music weekly at that time. They might have had a review of the show.



Yeah, I have their preview of the show, it concentrated on his earlier December show in Philly. I can't find anything reviewing the DC show from them in my stack though.

johnfoyle
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Re: Contempoary reviews of Elvis/Washington '78

Postby johnfoyle » Thu Feb 28, 2008 5:21 pm

Let's see if the new reissue leaves in the drunken guy who shouted, after Elvis finished the song and said Goodnight, "You son of a bitch!Come baaaaaaack!" Rhino used my reel to reel tape of the FM broadcast for their version, and edited that guy out.


Craig posts to listserv-


It's there. I found a promo copy the other day.

sabreman
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Re: Contempoary reviews of Elvis/Washington '78

Postby sabreman » Thu Feb 28, 2008 11:38 pm

johnfoyle wrote:
Let's see if the new reissue leaves in the drunken guy who shouted, after Elvis finished the song and said Goodnight, "You son of a bitch!Come baaaaaaack!" Rhino used my reel to reel tape of the FM broadcast for their version, and edited that guy out.


Craig posts to listserv-


It's there. I found a promo copy the other day.


Was this broadcast by WHFS?

sabreman
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Re: Contempoary reviews of Elvis/Washington '78

Postby sabreman » Thu Feb 28, 2008 11:43 pm

FAVEHOUR wrote:
sabreman wrote:The Unicorn Times was the Washington, DC music weekly at that time. They might have had a review of the show.



Yeah, I have their preview of the show, it concentrated on his earlier December show in Philly. I can't find anything reviewing the DC show from them in my stack though.


Wow that is great you still have them! I still have a copy from 1981 that reviews the EC - Squeeze show at UMCP.

FAVEHOUR
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Re: Contempoary reviews of Elvis/Washington '78

Postby FAVEHOUR » Fri Feb 29, 2008 1:19 pm

Sabreman asked: Was this broadcast by WHFS?

Yes. I missed the initial live broadcast because I was there. They re-aired it in 1979 and I got it on tape. (but they cut Blame it on Cain, for some reason.)

BTW, that drunken guy yelling was right over my shoulder!


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