'..this is Elvis Costello playing records', Sept. 1979

Pretty self-explanatory
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'..this is Elvis Costello playing records', Sept. 1979

Postby johnfoyle » Sun May 04, 2014 3:59 pm



I've been sent a cassette of a BBC radio appearance from September 1979 where Elvis presents a selection of songs. I hope to soon get Elvis's comments digitised but until then here are a transcription of them and links to the songs on youtube.

In Sept. 1979 Elvis was producing The Specials' first album and recovering from the seeming debacle that was the Columbus incident in March '79 and was thinking over what he and The Attractions would do next. After the overtly pop sound of Armed Forces he felt the need to go for a more rootsier sound , which would lead to the Soul sound of the Get Happy!! recordings in Holland a month later.

On Sunday the 16th of September (date from wiki - I can't find a print source in mu cuttings) he , as this tape shows, presented a Star Choice on the BBC Radio One evening service. Evening broadcasting was on FM I'm told and the clarity of Elvis' link pieces proves same. The tracks are, of course, sourced from vinyl but , overall, sound good , a testament to the BBC standard of presentation and , as we are rediscovering , the fuller , warmer sound of that format. The tape is flipped towards the end of the Clash track and cuts out , without any parting comments from Elvis , before the end of the Johnny Taylor track not listed on the insert.

Elvis's comments are brief. Perhaps he preferred it that way - more time for music - or maybe it was the set style of the show. They do contain, however , some fascinatingly early examples of themes Elvis talked about at much more length in the years since. Given the relative inaccessibility of most of the music in those days before everything was digitally 'out there' a lot of the material must have seemed obscure to most listeners.

Elvis's opening comment seems clipped so maybe the taper only realised it was on when it started to air. He goes right into introducing The Marvelettes The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game saying it was good example of why 'Bob Dylan referred to Smokey Robinson as America's greatest living poet'


Then we get Lowell George - What Do You Want the Girl To Do , introduced as ' continuing the famous producer/writer series with Allen Toussaint'.


Elvis then says ' As it's Sunday , here's something uplifting of a moral nature ' Hank Williams - Too Many Parties and Too Many Pals


- Elvis saying afterwards ' Let that be a lesson to all of you sinners out there , Hank Williams telling the truth about corrupting youth'

After merely introducing & playing John Lennon - Instant Karma!


Elvis comments 'In case you've just turned on - I don't know what you've been up to all this time - this is Elvis Costello playing records'.

Without a intro we hear The Heptones Mama Say


with a sign of comment about it being from the 'Night Food album '

Then we get The Spencer Davis Group - When I Come Home


followed by a comment about it featuring the amazing Stevie Winwood

Elvis then says ' This might sound a little odd but you got to take into account it was written in 1932 & recorded in a hotel room.'

Robert Johnson - Love In Vain


Elvis ' You might know that number as done by the Rolling Stones and here are they'

Rolling Stones - Off The Hook


Elvis - 'The Rolling Stones when they were a punk band and that's going to have Attraction's drummer Pete Thomas bouncing around the walls so I'll have to calm him down with this '

Gram Parsons/Emmylou Harris-"Sleepless Nights"


Elvis ' If you've fallen asleep here's a bit more of a racket from The Clash

The Clash - Cheapskates


Elvis ' That'll drive the Attractions around the twist'

Then we get
John Cooper Clarke - Majorca


Elvis ' Salford's answer to Donovan'.


Sonny Boy Williamson - Help Me


- ' One of the eeriest sounding tracks I can imagine'.

Then ' I wanted to play a Randy Newman song but couldn't make up my mind so here's Dusty doing him , from Dusty In Memphis

Dusty Springfield I Don't Want to Hear it Anymore


Then ' From when they made some good records'

THE WHO - La-la-la lies


Then ' My favourite record of the year so far - and the world finally wakes up (to it)'

The Specials - Gangsters


' A record you could wear out and then a get another copy to wear out'

Then ' from Cool For Cats - a rarity - a record you could play any track from - a song they know (a) little about '

Squeeze - Slightly Drunk


Then a mere intro to

George Jones -- A Drunk Can't Be A Man


Then ' I've no idea what this is about , from Veedon Fleece '

Van Morrison - Linden Arlen Stole The Highlights


' he sounds mad on that track , maybe (chuckle) barking mad !'


Then ' From the Four Pennies - not that awful band - I think it's The Chiffons under another name '

The Four Pennies - "When The Boy's Happy (The Girl's Happy Too)


Then we get a more intro to

Linton Kwesi Johnson - Sonny's Lettah (Anti-sus Poem)


which plays , without a intro ( confession - I had to google the lyric!) into

Johnnie Taylor - I've Been Born Again


and then the tape runs out before the end of the song.

As I said , a lot of early signs of themes and genres that would be explored in later years. It all sounds normal to us now but back then it may have thoroughly confounded to fans.

Thanks to the tape provider , who I'll credit if he permits.

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Re: '..this is Elvis Costello playing records', Sept. 1979

Postby johnfoyle » Mon May 05, 2014 6:52 am

I got this message this morning -

John; Nice summary of the Star Special on the Fan Forum. A bit more info from "the taper". I turned on the radio and this show was already on, and I missed a bit more finding tape etc. I think the recording starts with EC saying "the Boxes and 'Lovely Evening'" - this was Clive Langer (then a label mate on Radar). I think the show was two hours and I did put in another tape but it got chewed by the recorder at the time so I never documented what was on it. This show really informed my musical education - despite being into post-punk I learnt a lot as I went out bought everything on that tape over the next couple of years!


Clive Langer and the Boxes - Lovely Evening

The imposter
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Re: '..this is Elvis Costello playing records', Sept. 1979

Postby The imposter » Sat Jun 07, 2014 10:38 am

Thanks very much for this John, It will form the first entry in my latest blog series "Elvis as DJ," that I'll be posting over the coming days.

http://elvisasdj.blogspot.com.es/2014/0 ... hoice.html

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Re: '..this is Elvis Costello playing records', Sept. 1979

Postby johnfoyle » Sun Jun 08, 2014 4:30 am

Great - well done!

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