From ECWpress.com: Looking for the perfect bookish gift for everyone on your list this holiday season? Finding it difficult to match a book to the jokester in your life, the person who is mooching your Netflix, or that one friend who’s just plain impossible to buy for? ECW’s got you covered.
Check out these 10 gift guide sheets for 10 of the kinds of people you might have to buy for this season! We’ve paired our books with other gift ideas that you can add to your cart (online or in real life!) when visiting your favourite retailers in the coming weeks. Put them together and bam, you’ve got the perfect gift for that special someone!
From 2paragraphs.com: “Author Richard Crouse, a Canadian film critic and culture vulture, smartly tells this tale of Costello’s beginnings — indeed he tells the tale of the invention of Elvis Costello the character. Another star of the book is Stiff Records, which was Dr. Frankenstein to Costello’s monster — and to his monster hits.”
My Aim Is True has the strongest single identity of any of the albums contained in the pantheon of Elvis Costello’s work. It is also the most iconic. So Richard Crouse’s look at both the record and the inchoate, pre-Attractions Costello is a welcome addition to any fan’s bookshelf.
Crouse followed his hero’s progress from afar – Liverpool, Nova Scotia, in fact – after identifying the bespectacled singer on the other side of the Atlantic as someone who was “making music that spoke to me”. Fortunately, his pocket-sized book (just 118 pages) is no hagiography and far more instructive than a song-by-song dissection of the record he got his older brother to bring home for him.
Costello’s early musical influences were as diverse as the records he would go on to make, from The Siamese Cat Song by Peggy Lee, which as a toddler he demanded that his mum play, through to The Beatles, The Supremes and Gram Parsons. He was only 16 when he got up to play in public for the first time in the crypt of a church in Richmond, and by all accounts it did not go well. However, a move from London to Liverpool saw him develop a taste for American country-flavoured rock and the kind of groups that were inspiring groups to venture out into pub back rooms. He and his friends followed suit.
This scene-setting is vital as it explains why, as punk was frothing at the mouth, an agitating young singer was recording a country-tinged album with a Californian bar band. At this point The Attractions hadn’t been hired, and it was with Clover that he recorded his debut at Pathway Studios.
There is, rightly, much emphasis on Dave Robinson and Jake Riviera’s maverick label Stiff Records, in whose scruffy offices the transformation from computer-operating geek to cool new waver began. It was Stiff’s keen understanding of promotion and marketing stunts that helped launch such a difficult-to-market artist. His arrest for busking outside the Hilton Hotel in London where CBS executives were holding a conference resulted to him being signed and MAIT being released in the US.
Fan or not, he doesn’t shy away from aspects of the Costello’s early career that some found off-putting. The labelling of some of Costello’s anti-romance songs as misogynist is, says Crouse, “a fair charge”, while the abrasiveness he cultivated on-stage and press interviews is chronicled in a chapter headed Prince Charmless. On stage he could be no less prickly. “I see we’ve got some cunts in the audience tonight,” he snarled during the Stiff tour of 1977 on which he deliberately played songs no one knew.
There are no original interviews with Costello or any of the musicians involved in MAIT, Crouse instead getting the thoughts of a host of other writers. Nor are there any images in this latest in the pop classics series. But fans will find plenty to feast on in a book that documents a seminal record and the arrival of one of the most gifted songwriters of his generation.
From Small Press Reviews: “Word on the street is that Elvis Costello has a memoir due in October. For those who can’t wait, there’s Richard Crouse’s Elvis Is King: Costello’s My Aim Is True, a meticulously researched account of Costello’s early years and the release of his first LP with independent label Stiff Records…” Read the whole thing HERE!
The 1970s in Britain was a decade of unemployment, labour unrest and massive inflation. In short, a breeding ground for pissed off youth with no money, no hope and a hell of a lot of time on their hands.
The decade of discontent spilled into the music world as big, bombastic rock bands grew physically distant from their fans as they played larger and larger arena shows. People began for searching something that spoke to their anger and frustration.
Enter snarly, stripped down sounds played by guys named Rat Scabies and Johnny Rotten and women like Poly Styrene… READ THE WHOLE THING HERE!
Liverpool, Nova Scotia, is the hub of the Lighthouse Route’s scenic drive along the province’s South Shore. Blessed by Mother Nature, it’s picturesque, book-ended by beautiful beaches, parks, and forests. As the home of the third oldest lighthouse in the province, it’s also rich in history but not exactly the center of the pop culture universe.
Even less so in the 1970s when, as a music and movie obsessed kid, I went to Emaneau’s Pharmacy every week to pick up magazines like Hit Parader and Rona Barrett’s Hollywood. Perhaps because I grew up in a renovated vaudeville theater (it’s true!) I was deeply interested in a world that seemed very far away, and those weekly and monthly magazines were my only connection to music and movie stars.
Liverpool wasn’t on the flight plan for the people I saw in those pages.
Sure, there were rumors that James Taylor and Carly Simon had a beach house nearby, but nobody ever saw them at Wong’s Restaurant, the only eatery in town. And Walter Pidgeon was thought to have come to visit an old friend, but the Mrs. Miniver star, who was born in 1897, wasn’t quite cool enough to be on my list of must-meets or even must-get-a-glimpse-ofs.
Those magazines were my only source. The local movie theater—a gigantic reno-ed opera house—was months behind in getting the new releases, and local department stores like Steadman’s and Metropolitan (known locally as the Metoplitan because of the blown-out “r” and “o” bulbs on the sign that was never repaired) didn’t carry the LPs I was reading about. On paper, I read about The Ramones, Television, the Sex Pistols, learning everything there was to know about the brash new music coming out of New York and London—Johnny Rotten said “fuck” on national television!—before I had ever heard a note of their music. Somehow, though, I knew I would love it…
“I want to thank everyone who came out last night to the Rivoli for the book launch ECW Press threw for me and Andy Burns to celebrate the releases of our books Elvis is King: Costello’s My Aim is True and Wrapped in Plastic: Twin Peaks.
“It was Nick Lowe’s sixty sixth birthday last night so it was appropriate to raise a pint and celebrate one of my favorite records of all time and the subject of my new book.
“Also thanks to everyone who posed for photographs with copies of Elvis Costello’s records and singles. It was a lot of fun and a great way to kick off this new book.
More on Elvis is King: Costello’s My Aim is True HERE!