Elvis Costello Allan Jones - Essay

Allan Jones

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

I'd like to see ["My Aim Is True"] on the chart within the week, please. In fact, "My Aim Is True" could, given the opportunity and exposure, rocket with ease to national prominence: the collection contains enough potential hit singles to stock a bloody juke-box, believe me.

Two of the cuts, "Less Than Zero" and "Alison",… conveniently suggest the scope of Costello's writing and provide musical reference points for the uninitiated. Elvis … has a rare talent for seizing an image, an idea or a musical style and, however familiar its original shape, creating out of it something quite powerfully individual….

"Less Than Zero" is a vivid reflection of Elvis' affection and empathy with Sixties' r&b; simultaneously, the song … introduces, through its colourful evocation of suburban perversions and wry cynicism, the mordant, Ortonesque humour that characterises several of the songs included here. "Alison," by comparison, is a classically crafted pop song enhanced by stylish guitar inflections and Elvis' restrained vocal passion. The song also reflects Costello's other principal preoccupation as a writer: it's centered, like so many of the songs in this collection, around the termination of a relationship (a theme Elvis views with authentic insight, from a variety of perspectives).

Elsewhere, Elvis deals more explicitly with the emotional violence that attends the disintegration of love affairs,...

(The entire section is 418 words.)