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Costello, Elvis

Elvis Costello

Singer, songwriter

Name Poked Fun at Stardom

Early Efforts Showed Deadly Aim

Pop Expressionism and Road Fatigue

Increasingly Ambitious Songwriting

End of Road for Attractions

Accused of Raiding His Own Catalogue

Selected discography

Sources

Since his arrival on the postpunk scene 17 years ago, wrote Time magazine critic Guy Garcia in 1994, Elvis Costello has shown himself to be one of the most prolific and protean songwriters of his generation. Combining piercing, literate lyrics and an uncompromising attitude with the melodicism and stylistic breadth of classic pop groups like the Beatles, Costello forged a much-imitated style that led the way for a great deal of the alternative music that followed.

With his band the Attractions, Costello led the NewWave pack into the early 1980s, producing a catalogue of songs to rival almost any other in popular music. His own artistic restlessness, however, would never permit him to settle in one mode for long; reasoning that the Attractions limited his vision, he left the group abruptly in the middle of the decade. He then experimented with country music, soul and avant-garde textures; wrote film scores; produced and wrote for other acts; and even recorded an album with a string quartet before he reunited with the Attractions for 1994s Brutal Youth. And despite the passage of time, Costellos articulate fury burned just as brightly. Costellos lyrics have always been stuffed with cleverness, frequently overstuffed, opined Jeffrey Stock of Pulse! But his genius for melody, evident even in his fast and furious numbers, is what truly sets him apart. Besides Paul McCartney, there is quite simply no one that comes close.

Name Poked Fun at Stardom

Costello wasnt born an Elvis. Declan Patrick McManus was born in the mid-1950s in London, England; his father, Ross McManus, worked as a jazz bandleader. Young Declan first heard pop music on the radio and on demonstration records his father received, falling in love with rock and soul at an early age. I had quite a pleasant childhood, actually, he recalled in Pulse! Ross left his wife and children, however, and Declan moved to Liverpool with his mother before finishing school. Immediately upon graduating, he went in search of a job and ended up working with computers by day and playing his own songs in local clubs at night. Though McManus later disparaged his early work for its derivative qualitieshe was strongly influenced by eclectic American songwriters like John Prine and Lowell George, as well as the great tunesmiths of the jazz erahis earliest demo recordings, from 1974 to 1975, show signs of the lyrical sophistication and melodic invention that brought him acclaim. The recordings surfaced on bootlegs years later before being officially released on the 1993 Rykodisc boxed set 21/2 Years.

For the Record

Born Declan Patrick McManus, August 25, 1955, in London, England; son of Ross McManus (a bandleader) and Mary (Costello) McManus; married first wife, Mary, 1974 (divorced, c. 1985); married Caitlin ORiordan (musician and actress), 1986; children: (first marriage) one son.

Worked as computer operator, Elizabeth Arden, London, early 1970s; performed on English club scene, both solo and with group Flip City, early 1970s; signed to Stiff Records, 1976; released debut album My Aim Is True (released in United States on Columbia), 1977; performed with group the Attractions, 1977-86, and intermittently thereafter; produced other artists, 1979; appeared on various benefit albums and as guest artist on others recordings, 1979; cameo role in film No Surrender, 1986; wrote score for film The Courier, 1988; signed with Warner Bros. and released album Spike, 1989.

Awards: Album of the year, Rolling Stone critics poll, 1977, for My Aim Is True; songwriter of the year, Rolling Stone critics poll, 1989; best male video, MTV video awards, 1989, for Veronica.

Addresses: Home London, England, and Dublin, Ireland. Record company Warner Bros., 3300 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91505; 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10019.

After suffering repeated rejections, McManus brought his tape to Stiff Records, one of Englands stalwart supporters of the burgeoning underground scene. It was there that he met songwriter-producer Nick Lowe, who would become a steadfast friend and collaborator; he also met Jake Riviera, who became his manager and gave him his professional name: the Elvis poked fun at rock star pretensions, while Costello was the maiden name of the young performers mother. Though McManus felt skeptical at first, he followed Rivieras suggestion; over time the name would strike many listeners as a perfect fit for his musical synthesis.

Early Efforts Showed Deadly Aim

The newly-christened Elvis Costello went into the studio with American bar-band survivors Clover andwith two thousand English pounds and in twenty-four hours of recording timecompleted an album called My Aim Is True. The title came from a line in the anguished ballad Alison, which would become one of Costellos most popular songs. The album also contains the edgy, reggae-inflected rock of Watching the Detectives, buoyant, sardonic pop songs like (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes, and Mystery Dance, a concise rockabilly lament about sexual confusion.

The album cover of My Aim Is Truesports a photograph that would cement Costello in rock iconography: with spiky hair, horn-rimmed glasses, suit, and gawky stance, he represented a brazen challenge to the ultrasmooth rock superstars of the day. Indeed his faux nerd looks, as a Time writer would later call them, gave rise to the witticismcredited to various sources, including rock writer Dave Marshthat Costello was popular with the critics because he looked like one of them. Released in America on Columbia Records, the album and its creator were hailed on both sides of the Atlantic as major arrivals. My Aim Is True was named album of the year in a Rolling Stone critics poll.

Costello then proceeded to assemble the Attractions, which consisted of keyboardist Steve Nieve, bassist Bruce Thomas, and drummer Pete Thomas (no relation); the group joined the Stiffs Live tour with label-mates Ian Dury, Wreckless Eric, and others. The groups barnstorming tour of the United States included a stop at the television program Saturday Night Live, where Costello committed his first Stateside outrage: at the last minute, over the frenzied objections of the staff, he substituted his new song Radio, Radioa scabrous broadside at mainstream programmersfor the scheduled Less Than Zero.

Costellos musical output with the Attractions during this period was astoundingly prolific. The group went into the studio in late 1977 and the following year released This Years Model, a collection of ferocious, streamlined songs that departed from the eclecticism and intermittent whimsy of Costellos debut. The American edition includes Radio, Radio, not to mention virulent rockers like Lipstick Vogue and Pump It Up.

Already certain signature themes were emerging in his songs: sexual misadventures, power struggles in interpersonal relationships, and the tyranny of fashion. And often these conflicts occurred in the vexed realm of speech: little triggers, as he sang in the song of the same name, that you pull with your tongue. In the words of Creem writer Richard Gehr, Costellos earliest records seemed like nothing more than knotty, nerve-jangled expulsions on the mouth and the damage it can do.

Pop Expressionism and Road Fatigue

Eager to avoid the pitfalls of repeating a formula, Costello and the Attractions recorded their next album in 1978; the singer told the compilers of the Rykodisc boxed set that the sessions took what we regarded as a very extravagant six weeks. Originally titled Emotional Fascism, the album signalled the beginning of what a Rolling Stone writer would later call his pop expressionism. Released as Armed Forces, it demonstrated Costellos increasingly ambitious songwriting approach and his bands seemingly unlimited dexterity. The album begins with the symphonic Accidents Will Happen, which Costello aficionados generally number among his best songs, and concludesin the United States versionwith Lowes sincere, upbeat (Whats So Funny Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding. In between fall a panoply of meditations on fascism both emotional and political, from Green Shirt and Olivers Army to the menacing Goon Squad and the deceptively bouncy Two Little Hitlers. Unfortunately, while on tour in the United States in 1979, Costello gained a reputation as something of a fascist himself, thanks to racist comments he made in an Ohio bar brawl with American rockers Stephen Stills and Bonnie Bramlett. Though he regretted his words and said so publicly on numerous occasions, the fallout of this incident lasted for many years.

It was a time of excess: alcohol and drugs fueled the bands touring and, to some degree, Costellos writing. But when the group hit a wall trying to find a sound for the next album, it was downing a few beers in a local pub that gave them their approach. Thus was born the sound of 1980s Get Happy!!, which bore the stylistic imprint of American soul groups like Stax Records house band Booker T. and the MGs. The good-time feel of the arrangements provided a unique tension with Costellos typically pun-riddled, multi-layered, and conflict-filled lyrics. Get Happy!! features the galloping Love for Tender, the melancholy, Beatlesque New Amsterdam, and a cover version of I Cant Stand Up for Falling Downoriginally recorded by Stax soul legends Sam and Davewhich was a fair-sized hit in England.

Increasingly Ambitious Songwriting

Next came Trust, which displayed an even greater compositional reach: Clubland is a moody, noirish piece with an R&B-influenced refrain, while the stark piano ballad Shot With His Own Gun shows the influence of modern composers like Kurt Weill. By this time Costellos songwriting had captured the fancy of his more commercially successful peers, including singer Linda Ronstadt, who recorded several of his songs; Costello disparaged Ronstadts versions, but they indicated that the musical mainstream now saw him as a major songwriter. He, in turn, had begun to refine his talents as producer, working with the English ska band the Specials, among others. He also recorded an album of country standards, Almost Blue.

Costellos next album, Imperial Bedroom, was a hit with critics; many hailed it as his first masterpiece. Suggesting the sonic grandeur of pops greatest moments, its best songs have been compared to the Beatles and Beach Boys finest work. 1983s Punch the Clock, meanwhile, opted for a more radio-friendly sound at the expense of its predecessors baroque explorations; it yielded the small-scale hit Everyday I Write the Book, but also included one of Costellos most highly regarded compositions, the elegiac Shipbuilding, which he co-wrote with Clive Langer and which features a trumpet solo by jazz idol Chet Baker. With their 1984 album Goodbye Cruel World, however, despite the airplay granted the single The Only Flame in Towna duet with blue-eyed soul star Daryl HallCostello and the Attractions appeared to be running out of steam.

End of Road for Attractions

Costello worked with the Attractions for part of his next album, King of America, the first recording that identified him as Declan McManus (he added an imaginary second middle name, Aloysius, on the sleeve) and his musical enterprise as The Costello Show. Mixing roots-based forms like country, rockabilly and folk and including numerous guest artists, the album suggested a new direction for Costello. His personal life took a new direction as well: having left a previous marriage of some thirteen years, he married Cait ORiordan, former bassist for the band the Pogues, with whom Costello had worked as producer. The two have periodically collaborated as songwriters.

After a return to garage-pop for the album Blood and Chocolate, Costello peremptorily left the Attractions and began to work as a solo artist. To be honest, I didnt handle the situation with much grace, he confessed years later in an Entertainment Weekly interview. I just sort of announced that I was going, and it wasnt negotiable. That must have been pretty hurtful after what wed put in. I guess I got a little arrogant, you know, as I got more confident. This confidence was no doubt bolstered by the fact that he was invited to collaborate with Paul McCartney, first on a B-side to a single and then on some songs for the former Beatles album Flowers in the Dirt. The two also co-wrote some songs that ended up on the first Costello solo album, Spike, which was also his first release on his new label, Warner Bros. Among these is the single Veronica, which enjoyed some rotation on MTV; the album also includes Costellos cabaret-like Gods Comic. Spike features guest appearances by Roger McGuinn of the seminal folk-rock band the Byrds, Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, and McCartney himself. In the Rolling Stone Critics Awards for 1989, Costello was voted best songwriter.

By the time of his next album, 1991s Mighty Like a Rose, Costello was adamant that there would be no reunion with his old band. The divorce is final, he maintained in Creem.Costello and the Attractions are history. As though to embody his break from the past, he sported a new look: long hair, full beard and wire-rim glasses. Mighty includes the McCartney co-composition So Like Candy; a Rolling Stone reviewer, despite some reservations, called the album Costellos most ambitious and adventurous music in ages. Bruce Thomas wrote a dishy book about the Attractions touring days that never mentioned Costello by name and was generally trashed by critics. The boring member of the band always writes the book, Costello himself scoffed in Creem.

Costello appeared on a number of anthologies and tribute albums; he also elected to take a rareand, to some, commercially misguidedstep: recording an album of songs with a string quartet. Based on the letters written over the centuries to the heroine of Shakespeares Romeo and Juliet, the suite of songs were the result of mutual admiration between Costello and the Brodsky Quartet. The resulting album was The Juliet Letters.We wanted to explore the under-used combination of voice and string quartet, but were anxious to avoid that junkyard named crossover, Costello explained in a Warner Bros. publicity release. This is no more my stab at classical music than it is the Brodsky Quartets first rock and roll album. Reviews were mixed; Request magazines write-up was typical in its assertion that the album was neither the transcendent triumph one might have hoped for, nor the embarrassing fiasco one might have feared.

Costellos next project resulted after he was contacted by former Transvision Vamp singer Wendy James about writing a song for her solo album; he eventually decided to write an entire albums worth. Working alone and with ORiordan, he composed all the songs in a weekend. It was while recording the song demos for herwith Thomas on drumsat Pathway, the tiny London studio where hed recorded some of his earliest work, that Costello rediscovered the unadorned, scruffy pop sound hed long since abandoned. Jamess album fared poorly, but the project sowed the seeds for the long-forestalled reunion with the Attractions.

Costello contacted Lowe and Nieve, as well as producer Mitchell Froom, and brought in Pete Thomas in play drums. Soon, through Lowe, he met with Bruce Thomas; the two hadnt spoken in several years, but Bruce played bass on about half the album. Lowe and Costello played bass in the other songs, and soon the vaunted return of the Attractionsand the messy sonic grandeur of the early dayswas a reality. The recording, which Costello first wanted to call Idiophone, was released in 1994 as Brutal Youth.I deliberately made the music crude, reads a quote from Costello in a Warner Bros, press release. I know its going to offend some people, while others will dig it because its very throwaway. Other people are going to be slightly ill at ease with it because it isnt crafted or something. But its a sort of template of how to play like this.

Accused of Raiding His Own Catalogue

He was right; a Rolling Stone writer accused Costello of raiding his own catalogue, particularly the 1979 to 1981 material, reprising both that periods trademarks and shortcomings, and tending toward overly busy arrangements. A Spin reviewer called the albums songs 15 fresh slices of warmed-over genius, and an Entertainment Weekly writer found the latest tunes frustrating, metaphor-ridden jigsaw puzzles.

Chris Willman of the Los Angeles Times, however, declared, You dont have to have underrated Costellos recent work to agree this is his finest album since his last with the Attractions, and Timothy White called the recording a magnificent return to form in his Billboard article. Costello obviously had little concern about reviews. I got accused by the New York Times of not having a coherent world view, he told a Pulse! interviewer. I thought, What do you mean, like [Adolf] Hitler? Or [former U.S. President] George Bush?

And just as clearly, Costello would continue to follow his own muse, despite the desires and expectations of his listeners. I find it amazing that Ive managed to be making records for 17 years! he exclaimed to Billboards White. He has continued to oppose the hype of the pop world; as he insisted in Creem, Rock & Roll is a ludicrous response to most things. Most of what goes on is pretty puny, including what I do myself. I fall very short of really great work. Nobodys that smart. Yet the trajectory of his own development as an artist caused him to declarein an Option magazine dialogue with fellow musical maverick Tom WaitsI dont believe anybody hasnt got a voice, but that they havent found it yet. I believe everybody can write songs in the same way.

Selected discography

On Columbia

My Aim Is True (includes Alison, Watching the Detectives, Red Shoes, Mystery Dance, and Less Than Zero), 1977.

This Years Model (includes Radio Radio, Lipstick Vogue, Pump it Up, and Little Triggers), 1978.

Armed Forces (includes Accidents Will Happen, [Whats So FunnyBout] Peace, Love and Understanding, Green Shirt, Olivers Army, Goon Squad, and Two Little Hitlers), 1978.

Get Happy!! (includes Love for Tender, New Amsterdam, Man Called Uncle, and I Cant Stand Up for Falling Down), 1980.

Taking Liberties, 1980.

Trust (includes Clubland and Shot With His Own Gun), 1981.

Almost Blue, 1981.

Imperial Bedroom, 1982.

Punch the Clock (includes Everyday I Write the Book and Shipbuilding), 1983.

Goodbye Cruel World (includes The Only Flame in Town), 1984.

The Best of Elvis Costello and the Attractions, 1985.

King of America, 1986.

Blood and Chocolate, 1986.

Girls, Girls, Girls (compilation), 1989.

On Warner Bros

Spike (includes Veronica and Gods Comic), 1988.

Mighty Like a Rose (includes So Like Candy), 1991.

The Juliet Letters, 1993.

Brutal Youth, 1994.

On various labels

Out of Our Idiot (B-sides and unreleased material), Demon, 1987.

The Courier (film score), Virgin, 1988.

2½ Years (four CD boxed set comprising remastered versions of first three albums, unreleased and import material, and concert disc Live at El Mocambo), Rykodisc, 1993.

With other artists

Various, Live Stiffs, Stiff, 1978.

Various, Concert for the People of Kampuchea, Columbia, 1980.

The Coward Brothers (pseudonymous recording with T-Bone Burnett), The Peoples Limousine, Imp, 1985.

John Hiatt, Warming up to the Ice Age (appears on Living a Little, Laughing a Little), Geffen, 1985.

Various, Deadicated (appears on Ship of Fools), Arista, 1991.

Various, Weird Nightmare: Meditations on Mingus (appears on Weird Nightmare), Columbia, 1992.

Rob Wasserman, Trios (appears on Put Your Big Toe in the Milk of Human Kindness), MCA, 1994.

As songwriter

Til Tuesday, Everythings Different Now (co-wrote The Other End [of the Telescope] with Aimee Mann), 1988.

Ruben Blades, Nothing But the Truth, Elektra, 1988.

Paul McCartney, Back On My Feet (co-wrote with McCartney), Columbia, 1988.

McCartney, Flowers in the Dirt (co-wrote My Brave Face, You Want Her Too, Dont Be Careless Love and That Day Is Done), Columbia, 1989.

Wendy James, Now Aint the Time for Your Tears, Geffen, 1993.

As producer

The Specials, The Specials, 1979.

Squeeze, East Side Story, 1981.

The Special AKA, Free Nelson Mandela, 1981.

The Pogues, Rum, Sodomy and the Lash, 1985.

Sources

Books

Contemporary Musicians, Volume 2, Gale, 1989.

Costello, Elvis, A Singing Dictionary (lyrics and sheet music), Plangent Visions, 1980.

Costello, Everyday I Write the Song (Grumbling Appendix to the Singing Dictionary) (lyrics and sheet music), Plangent Visions, 1983.

Gouldstone, David, Elvis Costello: Gods Comic, St. Martins, 1989.

Rees, Dafydd, and Luke Crampton, Rock Movers & Shakers, Billboard, 1991.

Stambler, Irwin, Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock & Soul, St. Martins, 1989.

Periodicals

Billboard, February 5, 1994; March 12, 1994.

Creem, June 1991.

Details, April 1993.

Entertainment Weekly, March 11, 1994; March 18, 1994.

Los Angeles Times, March 6, 1994; April 15, 1994.

Musician, May 1990; March 1991.

Option, July 1989.

Pulse!, May 1993; April 1994.

Raygun, April 1994.

Request, March 1993.

Rolling Stone, May 16, 1991; March 24, 1994.

Spin, April 1994.

Time, April 11, 1994.

Village Voice, April 5, 1994.

Additional information for this profile was obtained from Warner Bros, publicity materials, 1991-94, and from the liner notes to the 1993 Rykodisc boxed set 2 1/2 Years.

Simon Glickman

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Costello, Elvis

Elvis Costello

Singer, songwriter

Name Poked Fun at Stardom

Early Efforts Showed Deadly Aim

Pop Expressionism and Road Fatigue

End of Road for Attractions

Moved to Island Records

Return to Form

Selected discography

Sources

Combining piercing, literate lyrics and an uncompromising attitude with the melodicism and stylistic breadth of classic pop groups like the Beatles, Elvis Costello forged a much-imitated style that led the way for a great deal of the alternative music that followed. Since his arrival on the postpunk scene 17 years ago, wrote Time magazine critic Guy Garcia in 1994, Elvis Costello has shown himself to be one of the most prolific and protean songwriters of his generation.

With his band the Attractions, Costello led the New Wave pack into the early 1980s, producing a catalogue of songs to rival almost any other in popular music. His own artistic restlessness, however, would never permit him to settle in one mode for long; reasoning that the Attractions limited his vision, he left the group abruptly in the middle of the 1980s, but reunited with them for 1994s Brutal Youth. He has experimented with country music, soul and avant-garde textures; wrote film scores; produced and wrote for other acts; recorded an album with a string quartet; collaborated with pop crooner Burt Bacharach; and recorded an album with mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter.

Name Poked Fun at Stardom

Costello wasnt born an Elvis. Declan Patrick McManus was born on August 25, 1955, in London, England; his father, Ross McManus, worked as a jazz bandleader. Young Declan first heard pop music on the radio and on demonstration records his father received, falling in love with rock and soul at an early age. Ross left his wife and children, however, and Declan moved to Liverpool with his mother before finishing school. Immediately upon graduating, he went in search of a job and ended up working with computers by day and playing his own songs in local clubs at night.

After suffering repeated rejections, McManus brought his tape to Stiff Records, one of Englands stalwart supporters of the burgeoning underground scene. It was there that he met songwriter-producer Nick Lowe, who would become a steadfast friend and collaborator; he also met Jake Riviera, who became his manager and gave him his professional name: the Elvis poked fun at rock star pretensions, while Costello was the maiden name of the young performers mother. Though McManus felt skeptical at first, he followed Rivieras suggestion; over time the name would strike many listeners as a perfect fit for his musical synthesis.

Early Efforts Showed Deadly Aim

The newly christened Elvis Costello went into the studio with American bar-band survivors Clover andwith 2,000 English pounds and in 24 hours of recording timecompleted an album called My Aim Is True. The title came from a line in the anguished ballad Alison, which would become one of Costellos most popular songs. Costello then proceeded to assemble

For the Record

Born Declan Patrick McManus on August 25, 1955, in London, England; son of Ross McManus (a bandleader) and Mary (Costello) McManus; married first wife, Mary, 1974; divorced, c. 1985; married Caitlin ORiordan (musician and actress), 1986; divorced, 2002; children: (first marriage) Matthew.

Worked as computer operator, Elizabeth Arden, London, early 1970s; performed on English club scene, both solo and with group Flip City, early 1970s; signed to Stiff Records, 1976; released debut album My Aim Is True (released in United States on Columbia), 1977; performed with group the Attractions, 1977-86, and intermittently thereafter; produced other artists, 1979-; appeared on various benefit albums and as guest artist on others recordings, 1979-; cameo role in film No Surrender, 1986; wrote score for film The Courier, 1988; signed with Warner Bros., released album Spike, 1989; released numerous albums on Warner Bros., 1990-97; signed with Island Records, 1997; collaborated with Burt Bacharach on Painted From Memory, 1998; collaborated with Anne Sofie von Otter on For the Stars, 2001; released When I Was Cruel, 2002; artist in residence, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), 2002.

Awards: Rolling Stone critics poll, Album of the Year for My Aim Is True, 1977; Rolling Stone critics poll, Songwriter of the Year, 1989; MTV Video Awards, Best Male Video for Veronica, 1989; Grammy Award, Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals (with Burt Bacharach) for I Still Have That Other Girl, 1998; British Academy of Composers, Ivor Novello Award for Lifetime Achievement; Nordoff-Robbins, Silver Clef Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Addresses: Record company Island Records, 825 Eighth St., New York, NY 10019, website: http://www.islandrecords.com. Website Elvis Costello Official Website: http://www.elviscostello.com.

the Attractions, which consisted of keyboardist Steve Nieve, bassist Bruce Thomas, and drummer Pete Thomas (no relation).

Costellos musical output with the Attractions during this period was astoundingly prolific. The group went into the studio in late 1977 and the following year released This Years Model, a collection of ferocious, streamlined songs that departed from the eclecticism and intermittent whimsy of Costellos debut. The American edition includes Radio, Radio, not to mention virulent rockers like Lipstick Vogue and Pump It Up.

Already certain signature themes were emerging in his songs: sexual misadventures, power struggles in interpersonal relationships, and the tyranny of fashion. And often these conflicts occurred in the vexed realm of speech: little triggers, as he sang in the song of the same name, that you pull with your tongue. In the words of Creem writer Richard Gehr, Costellos earliest records seemed like nothing more than knotty, nerve-jangled expulsions on the mouth and the damage it can do.

Pop Expressionism and Road Fatigue

Armed Forces, released in 1978, signaled the beginning of what a Rolling Stone writer would later call Costellos pop expressionism. It demonstrated his increasingly ambitious songwriting approach and his bands seemingly unlimited dexterity. The album begins with the symphonic Accidents Will Happen, which Costello aficionados generally number among his best songs, and concludesin the United States versionwith Lowes sincere, upbeat (Whats So Funny Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.

It was a time of excess: alcohol and drugs fueled the bands touring and, to some degree, Costellos writing. But when the group hit a wall trying to find a sound for the next album, it was downing a few beers in a local pub that gave them their approach. Thus was born the sound of 1980s Get Happy!!, which bore the stylistic imprint of American soul groups like Stax Records house band Booker T. and the MGs. The good-time feel of the arrangements provided a unique tension with Costellos typically pun-riddled, multi-layered, and conflict-filled lyrics. Get Happy!! features a cover version of I Cant Stand Up for Falling Downoriginally recorded by Stax soul legends Sam and Davewhich was a fair-sized hit in England.

Next came Trust, which displayed an even greater compositional reach. By this time Costellos songwriting had captured the fancy of his more commercially successful peers, including singer Linda Ronstadt, who recorded several of his songs. Costello disparaged Ronstadts versions, but they indicated that the musical mainstream now saw him as a major songwriter. He, in turn, had begun to refine his talents as producer, working with the English ska band the Specials, among others. He also recorded an album of country standards, Almost Blue.

Costellos next album, Imperial Bedroom, was a hit with critics; many hailed it as his first masterpiece. Suggesting the sonic grandeur of pops greatest moments, its best songs have been compared to the Beatles and Beach Boys finest work. 1983s Punch the Clock, meanwhile, opted for a more radio-friendly sound at the expense of its predecessors baroque explorations; it yielded the small-scale hit Everyday I Write the Book, but also included one of Costellos most highly regarded compositions, the elegiac Shipbuilding, which he cowrote with Clive Langer and which features a trumpet solo by jazz idol Chet Baker. With their 1984 album Goodbye Cruel World, however, despite the airplay granted the single The Only Flame in Towna duet with blue-eyed soul star Daryl HallCostello and the Attractions appeared to be running out of steam.

End of Road for Attractions

Costello worked with the Attractions for part of his next album, King of America, the first recording that identified him as Declan McManus (he added an imaginary second middle name, Aloysius, on the sleeve) and his musical enterprise as The Costello Show. Mixing roots-based forms like country, rockabilly, and folk and including numerous guest artists, the album suggested a new direction for Costello. His personal life took a new direction as well: having left a previous marriage of some 13 years, he married Cait ORiordan, former bassist for the band the Pogues, with whom Costello had worked as producer. The two periodically collaborated as songwriters during their marriage, which ended in divorce in 2002.

After a return to garage-pop for the album Blood and Chocolate, Costello peremptorily left the Attractions and began to work as a solo artist. To be honest, I didnt handle the situation with much grace, he confessed years later in an Entertainment Weekly interview. I just sort of announced that I was going, and it wasnt negotiable. That must have been pretty hurtful after what wed put in. I guess I got a little arrogant, you know, as I got more confident. This confidence was no doubt bolstered by the fact that he was invited to collaborate with Paul McCartney, first on a B-side to a single and then on some songs for the former Beatles album Flowers in the Dirt. The two also cowrote some songs that ended up on the first Costello solo album, Spike, which was also his first release on his new label, Warner Bros. Among these is the single Veronica, which enjoyed some rotation on MTV. Spike features guest appearances by Roger McGuinn of the seminal folk-rock band the Byrds, Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, and McCartney himself.

By the time of his next album, 1991s Mighty Like a Rose, Costello was adamant that there would be no reunion with his old band. The divorce is final, he maintained in Creem. Costello and the Attractions are history. Mighty includes the McCartney co-composition So Like Candy; a Rolling Stone reviewer, despite some reservations, called the album Costellos most ambitious and adventurous music in ages. Bruce Thomas wrote a dishy book about the Attractions touring days that never mentioned Costello by name and was generally trashed by critics. The boring member of the band always writes the book, Costello himself scoffed in Creem.

Costello appeared on a number of anthologies and tribute albums; he also elected to take a rare step: recording an album of songs with a string quartet. Based on the letters written over the centuries to the heroine of Shakespeares Romeo and Juliet, the suite of songs were the result of mutual admiration between Costello and the Brodsky Quartet. The resulting album was The Juliet Letters.

Costellos next project resulted after he was contacted by former Transvision Vamp singer Wendy James about writing a song for her solo album; he eventually decided to write an entire albums worth. Working alone and with ORiordan, he composed all the songs in a weekend. It was while recording the song demos for herwith Thomas on drumsat Pathway, the tiny London studio where hed recorded some of his earliest work, that Costello rediscovered the unadorned, scruffy pop sound hed long since abandoned. Jamess album fared poorly, but the project sowed the seeds for the long-forestalled reunion with the Attractions.

Costello contacted Lowe and Nieve, as well as producer Mitchell Froom, and brought in Pete Thomas in play drums. Soon, through Lowe, he met with Bruce Thomas; the two hadnt spoken in several years, but Bruce played bass on about half the album. Lowe and Costello played bass in the other songs, and soon the vaunted return of the Attractionsand the messy sonic grandeur of the early dayswas a reality. The recording, which Costello first wanted to call Idiophone, was released in 1994 as Brutal Youth.

In 1997, Costello released a boxed set consisting of five CDs, which was limited to a pressing of 30,000 copies. Costello and Nieve, recorded with longtime collaborator and Attraction member Steve Nieve, consists of five short CDs of live radio broadcasts the duo recorded while touring the United States in May of 1996.

Moved to Island Records

That same year, Costellos tenure at Warner Bros. Records came to a close with compilation disc Extreme Honey: The Very Best of the Warner Bros. Years. Costello then signed with Island Records; his contract was more open and allowed him to release collaborations on other labels, such as Universal Classics.

One collaborator Costello would work with was Burt Bacharach. The two first teamed up in 1995 when director Allison Anders asked them to write a song for an upcoming film. The resulting God Give Me Strength, completely composed over the telephone, was featured in Anderss film Grace of My Heart. They worked side by side for 14 months to compose Painted From Memory, a collaboration of lost-love songs, which was released in 1998. Costello and Bacharach received a Grammy Award in 1998 for their collaboration on the song I Still Have That Other Girl. The two met up again in 1999, when they made a cameo appearance together in the film Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me as sidewalk piano players. Costello contributed music to both that film and the Julia Roberts/Hugh Grant vehicle Notting Hill that same year.

Costello collaborated with classical vocalist Anne Sofie von Otter in 2001. The resulting album, For the Stars, featured music by Costello and vocals by von Otter. Costello wrote some of the songs and arranged and produced all of them. Songs from Tom Waits, Paul McCartney, the Beach Boys, the Beatles, and ABBA were also on the album. That same year, Rhino Records began reissuing the entire Costello catalog through 1996. Each CD included a bonus of rare material and lengthy liner notes written by Costello especially for each album.

Costello became the first artist in residence at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), remaining at his post until the summer of 2002. Over the course of the year, Costello performed at a few additional events and was instrumental in teaching music at the University over the 2001-02 school year. Costello also appeared on an episode of the hit television series the Simpsons in 2002.

Return to Form

Costellos prolific work shows no signs of flagging. He released When I Was Cruel in 2002, hailed by critics as a return to form for the genre-defiant artist; recorded a concert with country star Lucinda Williams that aired on the Country Music Television channel in the United States in 2002; and finished his first full orchestral score, // Sogno, for an adaptation of A Midsummer Nighs Dream by Mauro Bigonzetti and the Italian dance company Aterballetto.

It was announced in 2002 that Elvis Costello and the Attractions were to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March of 2003, alongside the Police and the Clash. Looking back on his career, Costello modestly remarked to Entertainment Weekly, I havent made any half-hearted records. Thats probably the most I would allow myself to say. I havent made any records that I didnt really care about.

Selected discography

My Aim Is True, Columbia, 1977.

This Years Model, Columbia, 1978.

Armed Forces, Columbia, 1978.

Get Happy!!, Columbia, 1980.

Taking Liberties, Columbia, 1980.

Trust, Columbia, 1981.

Almost Blue, Columbia, 1981.

Imperial Bedroom, Columbia, 1982.

Punch the Clock, Columbia, 1983.

Goodbye Cruel World, Columbia, 1984.

The Best of Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Columbia, 1985.

King of America, Columbia, 1986.

Blood and Chocolate, Columbia, 1986.

Out of Our Idiot (B-sides and unreleased material), Demon, 1987.

The Courier (film score), Virgin, 1988.

Spike, Warner Bros., 1988.

Girls, Girls, Girls (compilation), Columbia, 1989.

Mighty Like a Rose, Warner Bros., 1991.

The Juliet Letters, Warner Bros., 1993.

2 1/2 Years (four CD boxed set comprising remastered versions of first three albums, unreleased and import material, and concert disc Live at El Mocambo), Rykodisc, 1993.

Brutal Youth, Warner Bros., 1994.

Kojak Variety, Warner Bros., 1995.

All This Useless Beauty, Warner Bros., 1996.

Costello and Nieve, Warner Bros., 1996.

Extreme Honey: The Very Best of the Warner Bros. Years, Warner Bros., 1997.

Terror & Magnificence, Polygram, 1997.

Painted from Memory, Mercury, 1998.

The Sweetest Punch, Polygram, 1999.

For the Stars, Deutsche Grammophon, 2001.

The Very Best of Elvis Costello (compilation), Rhino, 2001.

When I Was Cruel, Island, 2002.

Sources

Books

Costello, Elvis, A Singing Dictionary (lyrics and sheet music), Plangent Visions, 1980.

Costello, Elvis, Everyday I Write the Song (Grumbling Appendix to the Singing Dictionary) (lyrics and sheet music), Plangent Visions, 1983.

Gouldstone, David, Elvis Costello: Gods Comic, St. Martins, 1989.

Rees, Dafydd, and Luke Crampton, Rock Movers & Shakers, Billboard, 1991.

Stambler, Irwin, Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock & Soul, St. Martins, 1989.

Periodicals

Billboard, February 5, 1994; March 12, 1994; October 25, 1997; February 7, 1998; April 6, 2002.

Creem, June 1991.

Details, April 1993.

Down Beat, February 2000.

Entertainment Weekly, March 11, 1994; March 18, 1994; October 2, 1998; April 26, 2002; May 17, 2002.

Guitar Player, September 1999.

Hollywood Reporter, August 17, 2001; October 2, 2001.

Interview, March 1997.

Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, April 16, 2001; April 15, 2002.

Los Angeles Times, March 6, 1994; April 15, 1994.

Musician, May 1990; March 1991.

Nylon, June/July 2002.

Option, July 1989.

People, October 7, 2002.

Pulse!, May 1993; April 1994.

Raygun, April 1994.

Request, March 1993.

Rolling Stone, May 16, 1991; March 24, 1994.

Spin, April 1994.

Time, April 11, 1994.

Village Voice, April 5, 1994.

Online

Costello Splits From Wife, BBC Online, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/showbiz/2516563.stm (November 27, 2002).

Elvis Costello, All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (November 5, 2002).

Elvis Costello Official Website, http://www.elviscostello.com (December 6, 2002).

Elvis Costello: The Very Best of Elvis Costello PopMatters, http://www.popmatters.com/music/reviews/c/costelloelvisverybest.html (December 6, 2002).

Elvis Lives, Entertainment Weekly, http://www.ew.com/costello.html (December 6, 2002).

Police, Clash, Elvis Costello in Rock Hall, CNN.com, http://www.cnn.com (December 5, 2002).

Additional information for this profile was obtained from Warner Bros, publicity materials, 1991-94, and from the liner notes to the 1993 Rykodisc boxed set 2 1/2 Years.

Simon Glickman

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Costello, Elvis 1954–(Napoleon Dynamite, Declan McManus)

COSTELLO, Elvis 1954
(Napoleon Dynamite, Declan McManus)


PERSONAL


Original name, Declan Patrick McManus (some sources spell the surname MacManus); name legally changed to Elvis Costello, 1977, then to Declan Patrick Aloysius McManus, 1986; born August 24, 1954, in London, England; son of Ross (a bandleader and musician) and Mary (maiden name, Costello) McManus; married Mary, 1974 (divorced, c. 1985); married Caitlin O'Rioran (a musician and actress), May 16, 1986 (divorced, 2002); married Diana Krall (a musician), December 6, 2003; children: (first marriage) Matthew. Avocational Interests: Fan of Liverpool Football Club.


Addresses: Agent Tony Goldring, William Morris Agency, 151 El Camino Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90212.


Career: Musician, songwriter, composer, and actor. Musician, 1969; Flip City (band), founder, c. 1974; recorded and appeared in concert with the Attractions, between 1977 and 1987; solo artist, 1986. Record producer, 1979. Performed and recorded as Declan McManus, as Napoleon Dynamite with Napoleon Dynamite and the Royal Guard, and with the Coward Brothers, Emotional Toothpaste, Imposter, and Nick Lowe and His Sound. Appeared in commercials. University of California, Los Angeles, musician in residence, 2001. Elizabeth Arden (cosmetic factory), computer operator, 197477.


Awards, Honors: Rolling Stone critics' poll, album of the year, 1977, for My Aim Is True; Rolling Stone critics' poll, songwriter of the year, 1979, 1982, 1989; Grammy Award nomination, new artist of the year, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, 1978; MTV Video Award, best male video, 1989, for Veronica; Television Award, best original television music (with Richard Harvey), British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1992, for G.B.H.; Golden Satellite Award nomination, outstanding original song (with Burt Bacharach), International Press Academy, 1997, for "God Give Me Strength," Grace of My Heart; Grammy Award, best pop collaboration with vocals (with Burt Bacharach), 1999, for "I Still Have That Other Girl," Painted from Memory; Television Award nomination, best original television music (with Paul Pritchard), British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 2000, for Oliver Twist; Founders Award, American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, 2003; inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (with the Attractions), 2003; Ivor Novello Award, lifetime achievement, British Academy of Composers; Silver Clef Award, lifetime achievement, NordoffRobbins.

CREDITS


Film Appearances:

Earl of Manchester, Americathon, United Artists, 1979.

Himself, Concert for Kampuchea, Miramax, 1980.

Himself, Fundamental Frolics, 1981.

Rosco de Ville, No Surrender, 1985.

Hives the Butler, Straight to Hell, Island, 1987.

Himself, Weird Nightmare, 1993.

Himself, Spice World, Columbia/Sony Pictures Entertainment, 1997.

Himself, Robert Wyatt: Little Red Robin Hood (documentary), 1998.

Himself, 200 Cigarettes, Paramount, 1999.

Himself, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (also known as Austin Powers 2: The Spy Who Shagged Me ), Buena Vista, 1999.

Mayor of the Sunset Strip, First Look Pictures Releasing, 2000.

Himself, Sans plomb (also known as Unleaded ), Mongrel Media, 2000.

Public defender and teacher, Prison Song, New Line Cinema, 2001.

Himself (in archive footage), If I Should Fall from Grace: The Shane MacGowan Story (documentary), Buena Vista International, 2001.

Himself, Freedom Highway: Songs That Shaped a Century (also known as Freedom Highway ), Filmove Studio Barrandov, 2001.

Himself, I Love Your Work, Cyan Pictures/Departure Entertainment/Muse Productions/RiceWalters Productions, 2003.

De Lovely, United Artists, 2004.


Film Work; Song Performer:

(With the Attractions) "Accidents Will Happen," E.T. The ExtraTerrestrial, Universal, 1982.

"Days," Bis ans Ende der Welt (also known as Until the End of the World and Jusqu'au bout du monde ), 1991.

"Alison," Metroland, Lions Gate Films, 1997.

(With the Attractions) "My Mood Swings," The Big Lebowski, Gramercy, 1998.

"I Throw My Toys Around," The Rugrats Movie (animated), Paramount, 1998.

"Mystery Dance," Zero Effect, Columbia/Sony Pictures Entertainment, 1998.

"She," Notting Hill, MCA/Universal, 1999.

"I Want You," I Want You (also known as Beloved ), Gramercy, 1999.

"You Stole My Bell," The Family Man, Universal, 2000.

"Welcome to the Working Week," Loser, Sony Pictures Releasing, 2000.

(With the Attractions) "Watching the Detectives," When Brendan Met Trudy, Shooting Gallery, 2001.

(With the Attractions) The Shape of Things, Focus Features, 2003.

Just One of Those Things, 2003.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Live Aid, 1985.

(In archive footage) Rolling Stone Presents Twenty Years of Rock & Roll (also known as Rolling Stone: The First Twenty Years ), 1987.

Roy Orbison & Friends: A Black & White Night, Cinemax, 1988.

Paul McCartney: Put It There (also known as Put It There ), Showtime, 1989.

Late Night with David Letterman Eighth Anniversary Special, NBC, 1990.

The Best of the Cinemax Sessions, Cinemax, 1990.

The 25th Montreaux Music Festival, The Disney Channel, 1992.

The Juliet Letters, PBS, 1993.

Irish in America ... A Musical Migration, The Disney Channel, 1994.

Unplugged: Tony Bennett, 1994.

The Music of Kurt Weill: September Songs (also known as September Songs: The Music of Kurt Weill ), PBS, 1995.

Burt Bacharach: This Is Now, PBS, 1997.

Bacharach: One Amazing Night, TNT, 1998.

Brian Wilson: Imagination, PBS, 1998.

Endless Harmony: The Beach Boys and Their Music, VH1, 1998.

Saturday Night Live: 25th Anniversary Primetime Special, NBC, 1999.

Woodstock 99, Fox, 1999.

A History of Britain, History Channel, 2001.

(In archive footage) The 100 Greatest TV Ads, Channel 4 (England), 2000.

The Irish Gala, PBS, 2001.

Interviewee, The 100 Greatest Albums of Rock & Roll, VH1, 2001.

There's Only One Paul McCartney, BBC (England), 2002.

Willie Nelson & Friends: Live and Kickin', USA Network, 2003.


Television Appearances; Miniseries:

Himself, The History of Rock 'N' Roll, Volume 9 (also known as Punk ), syndicated, 1995.

The Irish in America: Long Journey Home, 1998.


Television Appearances; Episodic:

(With the Attractions) So It Goes, 1977.

Saturday Night Live, multiple appearances, 19771991.

Top of the Pops, multiple appearances, 19771999.

The Midnight Special, 1979.

(With the Attractions) The Kenny Everett Video Show, 1979, 1980.

(With the Attractions) Multicoloured Swap Shop, multiple appearances, 19791980.

(With the Attractions) Tiswas, 1980.

(With the Attractions) Jim'll Fix It, 1981.

(With the Attractions) The Russell Harty Show, 1981.

"Elvis Costello," The South Bank Show, 1981.

Stone deaf A & R man, "The Bullshitters: Roll out the Gunbarrel," The Comic Strip Presents, 1984.

Guest, Late Night with David Letterman, 1989.

MTV Unplugged, MTV, 1989, 1991, 1994.

ABC in Concert, ABC, 1991.

Himself, "People's Choice," The Larry Sanders Show, HBO, 1994.

Guest, Late Show with David Letterman, CBS, multiple appearances, beginning 1994.

Guest, Have I Got News for You, 1996.

Himself, "Everybody Loves Larry," The Larry Sanders Show, HBO, 1996.

Guest, Clive Anderson All Talk, 1997.

Sessions at West 54th, PBS, 1997.

Voice, "All Aboard the Cat Bus," Comedy Lab, 1999.

Guest, TFI Friday, Channel 4 (England), 1999.

Guest, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NBC, 1999, 2002, 2003.

"Atlantic Crossing," Walk On By: The Story of Popular Song, 2001.

Himself, "The Thing That Wouldn't Die: Parts 1 & 2," 3rd Rock from the Sun, NBC, 2001.

Guest, The South Bank Show, 2001.

Guest, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, BBC (England), 2002.

Voice, "How I Spent My Strummer Vacation," The Simpsons (animated), Fox, 2002.

Guest host, Late Show with David Letterman, CBS, 2003.

Ben, "Farewell, Nervosa," Frasier, NBC, 2003.

Guest, The Frank Skinner Show, ITV (England), 2003.

Guest, Die Harald Schmidt Show, [Germany], 2003.


Also appeared in CMT Crossroads, CMT; Popular Song: Soundtrack of the Century, Bravo; and Storytellers, VH1.


Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:

The 39th Grammy Awards, CBS, 1997.

The 26th Annual American Music Awards, ABC, 1999.

Presenter, The 45th Annual Grammy Awards, CBS, 2003.

The 2003 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Ceremony, VH1, 2003.


Television Work; Pilots:

Creator and executive producer, The Archangels, The WB, 2001.


Television Work; Specials:

Theme song performer, The Long Journey Home, 1987.


RECORDINGS


Albums:

My Aim Is True, Columbia, 1977.

(With the Attractions) This Year's Model, Columbia, 1978.

(With the Attractions) Live at El Mocambo, Columbia, 1978.

(With the Attractions) Armed Forces, Columbia, 1978.

(With the Attractions) Get Happy, Columbia, 1979.

(With the Attractions) Taking Liberties, Columbia, 1980.

Ten Bloody Marys & Ten How's Your Fathers, F Beat, 1980.

(With the Attractions) Trust, Columbia, 1981.

(With the Attractions) Almost Blue, Columbia, 1981.

(With the Attractions) Imperial Bedroom, Columbia, 1982.

(With the Attractions) Punch the Clock, Columbia, 1983.

(With the Attractions) Goodbye Cruel World, Columbia, 1984.

The Best of Elvis Costello, Telstar, 1985.

The Best of Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Columbia, 1985.

(With the Confederates) King of America, Columbia, 1986.

(With the Attractions) Blood and Chocolate, Columbia, 1986.

The Man: The Best of Elvis Costello, Demon, 1986.

Out of Our Idiot, Demon, 1987.

The Costello Show, Demon, 1987.

The Courier (film score), 1988.

Girls, Girls, Girls, Columbia, 1989.

Spike, Warner Bros., 1988.

Mighty Like a Rose, Warner Bros., 1991.

(With Richard Harvey) G.B.H.: Original Music from the Channel Four Series, Demon, 1991.

2 1/2 Years, fourvolume set, Rykodisc, 1993.

(With the Brodsky Quartet) The Juliet Letters, Warner Bros., 1993.

(With Steve Nieve, Pete Thomas, Bruce Thomas, and Nick Lowe) Brutal Youth, Warner Bros., 1994.

G.B.H., Rykodisc, 1994.

The Very Best of Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Rykodisc, 1994.

Deep Dead Blue, Live at Meltdown, Nonesuch, 1995.

Jake's Progress, Demon, 1995.

Kojack Variety, Warner Bros., 1995.

Original Music from Channel 4 Series, Demon, 1996.

All This Useless Beauty, Warner Bros., 1996.

Costello and Nieve, Warner Bros., 1996.

Terror & Magnificence, PolyGram, 1997.

Extreme Honey: The Very Best of the Warner Bros. Years, Warner Bros., 1997.

(With Burt Bacharach; includes "I Still Have That Other Girl") Painted from Memory, Mercury, 1998.

The Sweetest Punch: The Songs of Elvis Costello, Polygram, 1999.

Best of Elvis Costello, Polygram International, 1999.

(With Anne Sofie von Otter) For the Stars, Deutsche Grammophon, 2001.

When I Was Cruel, Island, 2002.

North, 2003.


Recorded numerous videos, including Veronica.

WRITINGS


Film Composer:

(As Declan McManus) The Courier, 1988.

End title music, Family, 1994.


Songs Featured in Films:

"Crawling to the USA," Americathon, United Artists, 1979.

"Accidents Will Happen," E.T. The ExtraTerrestrial, Universal, 1982.

"Party Girl" (theme song), Party, Party, Twentieth CenturyFox, 1982.

"Seven Day Weekend," Club Paradise, 1986.

"Almost Blue," Let's Get Lost, 1988.

"Miracle Man," The Godfather: Part III (also known as Mario Puzo's The Godfather: Part III ), 1990.

"Days," Bis ans Ende der Welt (also known as Until the End of the World and Jusqu'au bout du monde ), 1991.

"Pump It Up," PCU, Twentieth CenturyFox, 1994.

"Almost Blues," Georgia, Miramax, 1995.

(With Burt Bacharach) "God Give Me Strength," Grace of My Heart, 1996.

"Alison," Metroland, Lions Gate Films, 1997.

"My Mood Swings," The Big Lebowski, Gramercy, 1998.

"I Throw My Toys Around," The Rugrats Movie (animated), Paramount, 1998.

Zero Effect, Columbia/Sony Pictures Entertainment, 1998.

"Everyday I Write the Book," The Wedding Singer, New Line Cinema, 1998.

"Oliver's Army," 200 Cigarettes, Paramount, 1999.

"I Want You," I Want You (also known as Beloved ), Gramercy, 1999.

"Shipbuilding," High Fidelity, Buena Vista, 2000.

Sans plomb (also known as Unleaded ), Mongrel Media, 2000.

"You Stole My Bell," The Family Man, Universal, 2000.

"Welcome to the Working Week," Loser, Sony Pictures Releasing, 2000.

"Watching the Detectives," When Brendan Met Trudy, Shooting Gallery, 2001.

The Shape of Things, Focus Features, 2003.

Just One of Those Things, 2003.


Some of these songs have also been featured in other films.


Television Composer; Miniseries:

(With others) G.B.H., 1991.

Jake's Progress, Channel 4 (England), 1995.

(With others) Oliver Twist, PBS, 1999.

Television Composer; Series:

Scully, 1984.

"Let Them All Talk" (theme song), Clive Anderson All Talk, 1996.


Television Songs; Specials:

Theme song, The Long Journey Home, 1987.

The Juliet Letters, PBS, 1993.

"My Dark Life," More Secrets of the XFiles, Fox, 1996.


Television Pilots:

Writer and song composer, The Archangels, The WB, 2001.


Books:

A Singing Dictionary (lyrics and sheet music), Plangent Visions, 1980.

Everyday I Write the Song (Grumbling Appendix to the Singing Dictionary), Plangent Visions, 1983.


OTHER SOURCES


Books:

ClaytonLea, Tony, Elvis Costello: A Biography, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1999.

Contemporary Musicians, Volume 40, Gale, 2003.

Geoff, Parkyn, Elvis Costello: The Illustrated Disco/ Biography, Omnibus Press, 1984.

Gouldstone, David, Elvis Costello: God's Comic, St. Martin's Press, 1989.

Perone, James E., Elvis Costello: A BioBibliography, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1998.


Periodicals:

Billboard, October 26, 1996, p. 1; April 26, 1997, p. 10; October 25, 1997, p. 9; February 7, 1998, p. 1.

Entertainment Weekly, March 11, 1994, p. 55; July 26, 1996, p. 54; October 2, 1998, p. 72; May 17, 2002, p. 43.

Hollywood Reporter, June 3, 1999, p. 10.

Interview, March, 1997, p. 80.

Newsweek, October 5, 1998, pp. 8081.

People Weekly, October 19, 1998, p. 45; March 31, 2003.

Q, May, 2002, pp. 6668.

Vanity Fair, November, 2000, pp. 15864.

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"Costello, Elvis 1954–(Napoleon Dynamite, Declan McManus)." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Costello, Elvis 1954–(Napoleon Dynamite, Declan McManus)." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/costello-elvis-1954-napoleon-dynamite-declan-mcmanus

"Costello, Elvis 1954–(Napoleon Dynamite, Declan McManus)." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/costello-elvis-1954-napoleon-dynamite-declan-mcmanus

Costello, Elvis

ELVIS COSTELLO

Born: Declan Patrick MacManus; London, England, 25 August 1954

Genre: Rock, Pop, Country

Best-selling album since 1990: Painted from Memory (1998)

Hit songs since 1990: "13 Steps Lead Down," "Toledo," "She"


While Elvis Costello's talents were hardened in the fires of the punk revolution of the mid-1970s, he has managed to spend more than a quarter of a century pursuing numerous projects that have frequently distanced him from that influential era by working in a variety of genres. These include country, middle-of-the-road pop, rock, ballads, political anthems, collaborations with string quartets and orchestras, and compositions for television and movie scores. Wherever
Costello has turned his considerable ability, he has brought a similar level of intensitya kind of tortured frustrationto the impressive range of work he has produced.

If the emergence of the British punk bands the Sex Pistols and the Clash in 1976 triggered a musical sea change and opened the door for the barbed observations of Costello, he had, in fact, been knocking at it for some time. Although he was born in London, his family had strong connections with Liverpool and Merseysidehe spent time in the port of Birkenhead just over the water from the home of the Beatlesand through his father he had links with the world of show business. Ross MacManus was a vocalist and trumpeter with 1950s dance bands, heard on BBC radio broadcasts of the period. As a result, the young Declan spent his teenage years moving from Birkenhead to the capital and back, but retaining the same Liverpudlian accent that the Beatles had introduced to the United States on their first tour of 1964.

Change of Name, Change of Fortune

It was in London that Costello formed his first significant band, eventually named Flip City, who from 1974 rode on the wave of the pub rock phenomenon. Pub rock was a broad musical school that rejected the increasingly impersonal scale of rockplatinum albums, progressive pretensions, and stadium toursand returned live popular music to the back rooms and upper floors of bars, particularly in the capital. Flip City were a country-tinged feature in a scene that lay the ground for punk bands to secure early live opportunities. When the group folded, MacManus adopted the name D. P. Costellohis own initials plus his mother's maiden name, emphasising still further the Irish antecedents of his clan.

When Stiff Records, an impetuous young label that had grown out of the pub rock movement, received a hand-delivered demo from Costello, not only did they recognize the young songwriter's potential but they proposed that he adopt the attention-grabbing first name Elvis. His reputation grew rapidly on the strength of his live shows, featuring Costello in his geeky, Buddy Holly eyeglasses that belied a spiky, acerbic stage manner. The music press took instant notice and his first album, My Aim Is True (1977), recorded in a single day with the American country rockers Clover, merely confirmed the media hype.

The debut collection unveiled a string of short, sharp shocks. Edgy rock songs like "Blame It on Cain," "(The Angels Want to Wear My) Red Shoes," and "Miracle Man," which connected easily with the angry gestures of punk and the new wave now in full flow, confirmed most of what the critics had been suggesting. The controversial "Less Than Zero," featuring the line, "Hey, Mr Oswald with your swastika tattoo," indicated that Costello was not going to steer clear of difficult topics. Although his ire was probably aimed at Oswald Mosley, the 1930s leader of the British fascists, American listeners assumed that Lee Harvey Oswald was his target. By such means, the artist's aura, as both a serious and challenging contender, was underlined. In addition, in "Alison" he showed that his ability to write a memorable love song was not lacking.


Leader in the New Wave Explosion

With that impressive beginning, Costello then proceeded to strengthen his case. Creating a backing band called the Attractionsbassist Bruce Thomas, drummer Pete Thomas, and keyboardist Steve NieveCostello, on guitar and vocals, produced the powerful This Year's Model (1978) and then Armed Forces (1979). With songs as sensational as "Watching the Detectives," "(I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea," "Pump It Up," and "Oliver's Army" swelling the group's repertoire, Costello was now established as the premier British solo artist of the new wave explosion that was centered on punk acts but also embraced sharp-witted singer/songwriters like Ian Dury and Joe Jackson. Costello's name began to draw similar plaudits in the United States.

His American adventure was rudely halted, however, when a barroom row in Ohio with established American rock musicians Stephen Stills and Bonnie Bramlett resulted in a fist fight and allegations that Costello had made racist remarks about African-American R&B singer Ray Charles. While Costello claimed he had been merely aiming to enrage representatives of the older musical establishment, his records were removed from playlists and for a couple of years he avoided the U.S. circuit.

The 1980s saw Costello continue an odyssey that would take many twists and turns. His 1980 album Get Happy!! paid tribute to the R&B sounds of Stax and Motown"I Can't Stand Up for Falling Down," the Sam and Dave song, provided the first Attractions cover versionalthough "New Amsterdam" was a reminder that Costello's talent for a tune remained undiminished. In a string of albums that followed, Costello took a country route on Almost Blue (1981), returned to a powerful pop formula on Punch the Clock (1983), dabbled in rock and roll influences on King of America (1986), where he was joined by T-Bone Burnett and the guitar licks of ex-Presley sideman James Burton, and delved into darker themes on Blood and Chocolate (1986).


Collaborations with McCartney, Bacharach, and von Otter

Along the way Costello's personal life shiftedhis first marriage collapsed, an experience touched upon on Goodbye Cruel World (1984), and he later wed Pogues bassist Cait O'Riordan. He also responded to the policies of Margaret Thatcher's administration with a body of fiercely critical political songs"Shipbuilding," which questioned the morality of the Falklands War of 1982, "Pills and Soap," issued under the pseudonym of the Imposter in 1983, and "Tramp the Dirt Down," a track from Spike (1989). Yet Costello could not be stereotyped as a new politicothe latter album saw him co-write with ex-Beatles member Paul McCartney and produce the upbeat ballad "Veronica."

But if the first decade and a half of Costello's musical career had been rich and varied, the 1990s added a range of further shades to his palette. In 1991 he provided the music for a major U.K. television dramaGBH by Liverpool playwright Alan Bleasdaleand penned one of his stronger albums, Mighty Like a Rose, before embarking on his most ambitious project to date. Joined by classical chamber group the Brodsky Quartet, he produced The Juliet Letters (1993), a marvelously eclectic retelling of the Romeo and Juliet romance, through ballad, rock, and contemporary music. A side project saw him write a whole album, Now Ain't the Time for Your Tears, for Wendy James, one-time Transvision Vamp singer.

In 1994 Costello was reunited with the Attractions and the resulting album, Brutal Youth, proved a feisty return to basic rock principles, with "13 Steps Lead Down" the stand-out song. The following year he released a collection of covers, Kojak Variety, featuring singer/songwriter Bob Dylan's "I Threw It All Away" and Ray Davies's "Days"; he then compiled All This Useless Beauty (1996), showcasing original songs he had given to other artists but had never recorded himself.

Most significant perhaps was his major collaboration with Burt Bacharach. Costello had covered a Bacharach/Hal David song, "Please Stay," on his covers album and had always been an admirer of those writers. When Bacharach and Costello co-wrote the song "God Give Me Strength," for Grace of My Heart, the movie based on the early 1960s Brill Building, it laid the way for a full-scale recording project involving the pair. Painted from Memory (1998) drew on Bacharach's supreme melodic and arranging skills and Costello's lyrical and interpretative talents, and songs like "Toledo" and "This House Is Empty Now" demonstrate a remarkable creative sympathy between the two, despite the generational divide.

Yet Painted From Memory enjoyed more critical than commercial success, a recurring theme of Costello's career. Nonetheless the concerts and tours that grew out of the album provided him with a world stage, and international sales of the collection, particularly in Japan, eventually marked it as a triumph. An intriguing companion album also appeared with musician/producer Bill Frisell creating a simultaneous jazz arrangement of the Bacharach/Costello set, an echo of a time when Miles Davis and John Coltrane issued their versions of the standard popular repertoire of the day.

Costello now saw concert action with Steve Nieve, his Attractions pianist, and then the movie Notting Hill (1999) saw the singer contribute a hit interpretation of the Charles Aznavour classic "She" to the soundtrack. The big screen beckoned again when Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) featured cameos by Costello and Bacharach as Carnaby Street buskers.

His quest for experimenting in new fields continued. In 2001 he joined forces with a soprano star of the opera world, Ann Sofie von Otter, directing a collaboration that saw the singer add pop songs to her classical repertoire and include pieces from the Costello catalog on For the Stars. But in 2002 he rejoined the Attractionsalthough now missing Bruce Thomasto record a new collection, When I Was Cruel. His best-received album for many years, perhaps since Mighty Like a Rose, it features Costello's acid wit and raw energy once more, reminiscent at times of his earliest recorded efforts as a newcomer with Stiff.

Elvis Costello's resume frames a variety of pursuits that mark him as a unique figure in the popular music landscape. He has never rested on his laurels; some even suggest that he has acted in reverse, burning boats when he could have settled for an easier life. His restlessness, his yearning for creative tests, has driven him to change horses almost annually. A songwriter who approaches Bob Dylan in terms of the sheer quantity of self-composed material, he has earned a place in the upper echelons of rock musicians.

There is, nonetheless, an argument that if he had plowed a narrower furrowlike Dylan, for examplehe could have earned comparison with the greatest of solo troubadours. Instead, he has invariably pushed on from plan to plan, succeeding mostly, falling short occasionally. For that, his loyal fan base is surely grateful: Nearly every year has brought a new Costello to the forethe punk, the country crooner, the rock and roller, the balladeer, and so on. His obsession with reinvention, coupled with his sheer audacity, makes him one of the most eclectic and invigorating players in the field.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

My Aim Is True (Rykodisc, 1977); This Year's Model (Rykodisc, 1978); Armed Forces (Rykodisc, 1979); Get Happy!! (Rykodisc, 1980); Almost Blue (Rykodisc, 1981) Imperial Bedroom (Rykodisc, 1982); Punch the Clock (Rykodisc, 1983) Goodbye Cruel World (Rykodisc, 1984); King of America (Rykodisc, 1986); Blood and Chocolate (Rykodisc, 1986) Spike (Warner Bros., 1989); Mighty Like a Rose (Warner Bros., 1991); The Juliet Letters (Warner Bros., 1993); Brutal Youth (Warner Bros., 1994); Kojak Variety (Warner Bros., 1995); All This Useless Beauty (Warner Bros., 1996); Painted from Memory (Mercury, 1998); When I Was Cruel (Island, 2002). Soundtracks: Notting Hill (Polygram, 1999); Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (Warner Bros., 1999).

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

D. Gouldstone, Elvis Costello: God's Comic (London, 1990).

WEBSITES:

www.elviscostello.info; www.elviscostello.com.

simon warner

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Costello, Elvis

Elvis Costello

Singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

Elvis Costello has emerged from the punk-rock movement of the late 1970s to become one of the most critically acclaimed artists in contemporary music. While bands like the Sex Pisols and the Clash may have burned more furiously in the beginning, they did, nevertheless, burn out. Costello, on the other hand, definitely had longer range goals in mind, forsaking the mind-numbing three-chord drone and leather garb for a more melodic, yet still powerful, sound and knockkneed Buddy Holly appearance. In fact, his looks have probably done more than his music to endear him to fans. He is so much the perfect rock critic hero that he even looks like one of us, wrote Dave Marsh in Rolling Stone, scrawny, bespectacled and neurasthemic, doesnt know when to shut up, bone-dull onstage. Still, his crafty lyrics and my-way-or-the-highway attitude are the main reasons for Costellos noteriety.

Born Declan MacManus, he gained an early introduction to the music world through his father, a singer with the Joe Loss Orchestra, and by the time he was eleven the Beatles fan club enjoyed his membership. In 1971, when he was sixteen, he moved out of his familys home and began working as a computer programmer at Englands Elizabeth Arden cosmetic factory. During the evenings he played bluegrass with Flip City in the pubs of Liverpool. By day he peddled demos of his own songs to countless English record companies, sometimes even playing acoustic guitar and singing for the execs. In 1974 he met Nick Lowe, staff producer and artist for Stiff Records, and in two years Costello was signed to the label.

With the aid of Clover, a California country-rock band, and Lowe producing (as he would the next four LPs), Costello recorded his debut LP in 1977, My Aim Is True. With his first single, Less Than Zero, released in April, the album became Americas hottest-selling import of the year. The combination of rockabilly, country, rock and biting lyrics also made it the first New Wave LP to break the American Top 50. After his debut in San Francisco, Costello stated in Rolling Stone that revenge and guilt were the driving force behind his lyrics. Those are the only emotions I know about and that I know I can feel. Love? I dunno what it means, really, and it doesnt exist in my songs.

After the Sex Pistols bailed out on Saturday Night Live television appearance, Costello agreed to fill in and play Less Than Zero. Once his segment began, however, he switched songs on the producers and played Radio, Radio, a scathing commentary on media manipulation which would appear on his next album, This Years Model. He may not have looked as menacing as Johnny Rotten, but when Costello sneered I want to bite the hand that feeds me, he seemed just

For the Record

Name originally Declan McManus; legal name currently Declan Patrick Aloysius MacManus; born 1954 (some sources say 1955) in London, England; son of Ross (a bandleader, singer, and trumpet player) McManus; married first wife, Mary, 1974 (marriage ended, 1985); married Caitlin ORiordan (an actress and musician), 1986; children: (first marriage) one son.

Played bluegrass with Flip City during early 1970s; signed to Stiff Records 1976, released first record, 1977; featured solo artist backed by the Clovers, 1977, the Attractions, 1978-86, and the Confederates, 1986; record producer, 1979; appeared in cameo role in British film, No Surrender, 1986.

Awards: My Aim Is True named album of the year in the Rolling Stone critics poll, 1977; selected songwriter of the year in Rolling Stone critics poll, 1979.

Addresses: Record company Warner Bros. Records, 3300 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91510.

as eager to let his feelings towards the establishment be heard. But, as Marsh pointed out in Rolling Stone, given the proper amount of publicity, it is possible that Radio, Radio could destroy Costellos career.

The album also featured the Attractions, Costellos newly formed backup band that included Bruce Thomas on bass, Steve Nieve on keyboards, and Pete Thomas on drums. They provided support on tunes like Pump It Up while Costello delivered more of his patented lyrics (Sometimes I almost feel like a human being). For all his surface cockiness, Costello is a man whos trembling underneath, wrote Kit Rachlis in Rolling Stone, a man so suspicious of the world that it doesnt matter whether youre bearing gifts or a black-jack, because hes not convinced it makes a difference.

Costellos third album, Armed Forces, included more biting words on Olivers Army, the reggae-tinged Watching the Detectives, and the rumbling (Whats So Funny bout) Peace, Love and Understanding. As Mikal Gilmore stated in Rolling Stone, [Costellos] songs seem to be subterfuge: communiques that create the illusion of disclosure while masking the artists true passions and disillusions. The tour to support the album was a particularly memorable, and violent, one to be sure. After a botched performance in Columbus, Ohio, a drunken Costello ended up in a barroom fight with the Steven Stills and Bonnie Bramlett entourage after he called Ray Charles nothing but a blind, ignorant nigger. (Oddly enough, Costello had been hired by Rock Against Racism, an organization founded in England in the mid-1970s, to headline a 1978 anti-Nazi rally in London.) Death threats followed Costello for the remainder of the tour while his manager, Jake Riviera (the one who coined the name Elvis Costello), and the roadies assumed the role of a goon squad. The band was also heavily into drinking and other vices that caused their playing to be at a nearly breakneck speed and blurred the impact of many of the tunes. Nearly a decade after the Charles incident, Costello told Rolling Stone that theres a tremendous amount of fun in terrorizing people that are so thick-skinned.

After slamming one of the forefathers of soul music, Costello turned right around and released his own version with the LP Get Happy. With over twenty tunes packed between the grooves, the album seemed to be a rapid succession of stop-and-go bursts that had Costellos tortured voice as a common denominator. This is the singing of a man whos so depressed that his bitterness is the one thing that keeps him sane, Tom Carson wrote in Rolling Stone. Also in 1980 he released Taking Liberties, a collection of B-sides, British album cuts, and unreleased tracks intended for the diehard fan. By ceremoneously gift-wrapping his trash, wrote Debra Rae Cohen in Rolling Stone, the artist treats himself with an archivists reverence usually reserved for the dead.

The initial impact of Costello was beginning to wear off and the music began to settle down, even though his lyrics were as rich as ever. On Trust he explored more of the Dylan-styled double meanings, while Almost Blue was a hearty helping of country music, pure and simple. Artists like George Jones and Johnny Cash have covered Costello tunes, as have Roy Orbison, Chet Baker, and Dusty Springfield. Costello continued to release an average of one album per year with eight Top 40 LPs in the 1980s. Critics loved his Imperial Bedroom, but Punch the Clock, which contained his only single to break the Top 40, Everday I Write The Book, and Goodbye Cruel World were deemed a little awkward and uneven by critics.

In 1986 Costello put the Attractions on hold for all but one tune when he recorded King of America with a pickup band christened the Confederates (James Burton, Ronnie Tutt, and Jerry Scheff). With that done, he brought the Attractions back for the burning rocker, Blood and Chocolate, in order to satisfy demand for something a little harder. The tour to support both albums alternated between the Confederates, the Attractions, and solo acoustic sets by Costello. In addition, an audience participation device called the Spinning Songbook was employed. I see myself sort of increasingly veering towards a kind of rock n roll Three Stooges, Costello told the Detroit Free Press.

During 1987 he began to collaborate with Paul McCartney, writing songs which would eventually appear on Spike, Costellos 1989 release that included help from Roger McGuinn, Chrissie Hynde, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. It was also his first full album without the Attractions. Like most of his records, it may not outsell the big guns like Madonna or Prince, but then again, hell never be confused with those types either. Were not in the same game, are we?, he said to David Wild of Rolling Stone. The truth is, I would rather do it my way and lose money.

Selected discography

My Aim Is True, Columbia, 1977.

This Years Model, Columbia, 1978.

Armed Forces, Columbia, 1980.

Taking Liberties (B-sides and unreleased tracks), Columbia, 1980.

Trust, Columbia, 1981.

Almost Blue, Columbia, 1981.

Imperial Bedroom, Columbia, 1982.

Punch The Clock, Columbia, 1983.

Goodbye Cruel World, Columbia, 1984.

The Best of Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Vol. I, Columbia, 1985.

Blood and Chocolate, Columbia, 1986.

King of America, Columbia, 1986.

Spike, Warner Brothers, 1989.

Also producer of records, including The Specials, 1979; East Side Story (for the Squeeze), 1981 ; and Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash (for the Pogues), 1985.

Sources

Books

Christgau, Robert, Christgaus Record Guide, Ticknor & Fields, 1981.

The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll, edited by Jim Miller, Random House/Rolling Stone Press, 1976.

The Rolling Stone Record Guide, edited by Dave Marsh with John Swenson, Random House/Rolling Stone Press, 1979.

Periodicals

Detroit Free Press, April 21, 1989.

Detroit News, April 21, 1989.

Guitar Player, March, 1987.

Interview, February, 1989.

Lansing State Journal, April 13, 1989.

People, June 9, 1986.

Rolling Stone, November 3, 1977; January 12, 1978; May 18, 1978; June 29, 1978; March 22, 1979; April 5, 1979; May 17, 1979; April 17, 1980; December 11, 1980; April 2, 1981 ; June 1, 1989.

Calen D. Stone

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