Monday, May 20, 2024

Elvis Costello’s Summer Gift to Us: New Recordings of His Earliest Music Are Swinging, Soulful and Catchy


Today, the ever prolific Elvis Costello is issuing a six track EP under the name Rusty. It’s called “The Resurrection of Rust.” If you want to see where Elvis began, when he was still Declan McManus and five years before “My Aim is True,” I direct you to this little gem.

Costello was a mere 17 when he and Allen Mayes set out as an act. Now, 50 years later, they’ve re-recorded their best stuff with Costello’s very simpatico producer, Sebastian Krys. The result is disarmingly good, swinging, soulful, and catchy.

Elvis sent me an email describing the whole endeavor, which follows below. But the upshot is that this little collection comes from an era that also launched Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, Brinsley Swartz and Bob Andrews, who became The Rumour, which played famously with Garland Jeffreys and of, course, Graham Parker. Except for Edmunds’s hit cover of “I Hear You Knocking,” we didn’t know about these people in ’72. We weren’t ready for them.

All the tracks on “Resurrection” can be found on YouTube in other older forms from that era. But these new versions are far superior, I think. They’ve become top of the pops in my car over the last week. I can’t get enough of an early Elvis song, “Warm House (And an Hour of Joy)” and a Nick Lowe confection called “Don’t Lose Your Grip On Love.”

PS Let’s not forget Elvis’s “The Boy Named If,” one of the very best records of 2022, which followed his earlier masterpiece “Look Now.” Costello is still pumping away at 67, a lovely rebuke to the lightweights of the current generation.

from Elvis:

This is Rusty making their recording debut 50 years AFTER I joined the band on New Year’s Day, 1972 – then a four-piece.

We played everywhere they’d let us but never made any money and only made one much-rejected demo tape – which sounds like it was recorded in a bucket down a well. 
Allan Mayes and I pressed on until early ’73, when I went back to London (and all that) and Allan stayed in Liverpool, mostly playing other people’s songs before relocating to Texas after getting a contract to play a covers circuit in Texas, Louisiana and Florida, then on cruise ships and oil-worker bars in Alaska before returning to Austin, where he lives and works today.  He wrote to suggest that we might play a few tunes to celebrate this big number but I thought we should make the record we dreamed of making when we were teenagers. I was 17 and still at school when I wrote “Warm House”. Allan and I worked on the early musical draft of “Maureen & Sam” which I later re-wrote as “Ghost Train” with an entirely different melody and a lot of changes to my original lyric, turning “Sam” into “Stan”. And that is why we are singing Nick Lowe, Jim Ford and Neil Young songs from 1972

Much like, “The Boy Named If”, Pete Thomas and Davey Faragher are the rhythm section, Bob Andrews reprised his “Surrender To The Rhythm” organ and piano in New Mexico, while Steve Nieve played on “I’m Ahead” and “Don’t Lose Your Grip On Love”. I play all the electric guitars and piano, bass and drums on “Maureen & Sam”, the mandolin on “Warm House” and the mandolin and electric violin on “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere/Dance Dance Dance”. Allan recorded his vocals and acoustic guitar in Austin.   

PS This is a bootleg version of “Don’t Lose Your Grip” with Elvis and Nick. I’ll have the new one on Friday.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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