Elvis Costello, although having a stage name that directly refers to Elvis Presley, was an original singer/songwriter who acknowledged the trend of Punk back in 1977. After many years of trying to be noticed, this was his musical breakthrough. With intelligence and understanding of musical history, he put himself above his peers by acknowledging musical trends of the past. This, his debut album is seen as a classic. Let’s dive in and take a listen to hear if it matches that claim.
Welcome To The Working Week begins with some interesting lyrical singing, beautiful harmonies and a straightforward, decent listen for those who have a 9-5 Monday to Friday working week. It’s very cynical in its outlook, and it sounds great. A great introduction to the world of Elvis Costello. Brilliant for a one and a half minute song.
Miracle Man begins with some Fender style guitars, a brilliant vocal melody and a grooving rhythm section. This is a really brilliant tune, and it is catchy and demands repeat listens. Singing about relationship issues, Elvis Costello showcases his unique and excellent musical talent in these songs. Musically and lyrically, he is spot on and no doubt influenced many youngsters to play music from 1977 onwards. A really awesome and decent tune, this is excellent music. Great tunes are here, a very nice listen overall. It has a nice, smooth fade out.
No Dancing begins with a straightforward set of beats, clanging guitars and excellent singing from Elvis Costello. Some smooth backing vocals are present as well, and this is another really excellent song. It’s about relationship issues but sounds really terrific regardless. A short and bittersweet piece of music that is full of repressed anger, but it sounds very lively and lovely regardless.
Blame It On Cain is a reference to the Bible. This is a Rhythm and Blues/Country sounding piece, which is very unusual, but it is a nice historical note. Once again, Elvis Costello pulls off a wonderful performance with great singing, beautiful harmonies and a catchy groove to go. The guitar solo is very short and clean before Elvis Costello returns to the story. This is a truly great record already, and it sounds miraculously good. An excellent listen from start to finish.
Alison begins with some lush guitar and instrumentation before Elvis Costello launches straight into a great love song that is brewing with distress. Musically and lyrically, this album is very decent and awesome, and it is a great singer/songwriter perspective that many could and should easily take note of. A really brilliant tune about lost love, it makes sense if you have been there. Excellent music and the album title is repeated in the outro of the song. A brilliant effort by Elvis Costello.
Sneaky Feelings comes next and has piano and other lush instrumentation. This is another retro sort of 1960s inspired romanticism that sounds great. This music seems highly unusual for 1977, but nonetheless, is a really awesome listening experience. Sounding like a real pro, Elvis Costello nails it musically. The harmonies and repeated singing at the end are divine.
(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes comes next and begins with some nice chords and powerful drumming. Elvis Costello launches himself into the music and sings wonderfully on this song. Again, this song is about romanticism but directly gets into the issues, rather than just ignoring them like many other artists do. A really good listen, Elvis Costello is one cool dude. The melodies and songs here are really divine. There is a nice keyboard buried underneath most of the song, too. Great effort.
Less Than Zero follows and has some driving Rock and Roll chords, with some rather nonsensical lyrics about someone who doesn’t fit into anything in life. It’s a song of youthful angst and has some issues related to such feelings. Another great song is present on this album, and the album proves to be a really excellent and fantastic listen. The outro had some repeated harmonies and excellent drum fills, a brilliant and good listen.
Mystery Dance is very short at around a minute and a half long. This is a great and retro 1950s styled song that is a short and cool piece that is great to bop along to. A wonderful listen and fun to hear, this is a great intermission sort of piece. Nice work.
Pay It Back begins with a slower piece that has a basic Rhythm and Blues feel to it. The fact is that Elvis Costello covers a huge array of styles and genres with ease, and he also sounds fantastic throughout these songs. This is about returning favours, and it sounds really catchy and lively. An excellent tune, this sounds really great and is proof of diversity in Pop/Rock culture making a positive difference.
I’m Not Angry says it all. Did Elvis Costello need to be a poster child for Punk music? Absolutely not. This is proof of it, he comes across as a diverse musical talent that is above and beyond the severe limitations of Punk music. A fantastic piece of music that still sounds impressive today, Elvis Costello and his band do very well here. A really awesome listening experience, with some interesting drums and guitars throughout. The guitar solos are quite Jimi Hendrix like, which is interesting.
Waiting For The End Of The World begins with bass guitar and electric guitar parts, before going straight into a Rock romp that sounds fantastic. The drums in particular sound really excellent (nice and pounding), and there is some unusual slide guitar in the background. In any case, this is a decent tune to hear and although apocalypse may seem much more likely in the 21st century, this is a reminder of what it felt like in the past. A great song nonetheless, this does sound really cool. Nice tune.
Watching The Detectives wasn’t on the original album, but due to its success, has been placed on all reissues so it will be covered here. It begins with some pounding drum rolls, deep basslines and semi-Reggae guitar feel throughout. It is easy to hear why this was a hit single, it is interesting and varied listening throughout. A good piece of music that is a nice addition to this album, it just sounds really cool and great. Very much relative to the late 1970s, with a mixture of politically incorrect Punk lyrics, Reggae sounds and other features all put into a great three minute Pop song, this is excellent. It fades out nicely with some interesting electric guitar sounds.
This is without a doubt, impressive in many, many ways and kickstarted Elvis Costello’s career which has spanned some decades. The mixture of intelligent lyrics, melodic musicianship, a great backing band and references to musical history are a clear winner. This is an outstanding album hands down that you must hear today, even if you have doubts about the musical styles covered on this album. A really great listen. For those who want more, reissues with extra tracks are out there, so seek them out if you can.
Excellent Pop/Rock masterpiece.
If you liked the article and would like to support the author in his musical review quest, please donate to show your support. Thank you for your consideration. Chris Airey