Elvis Costello - vocals, guitar; Steve Nieve - organ; Bruce Thomas - bass; Pete Thomas - drums
When this show was recorded for the King Biscuit Flower Hour, it had been seven years since Elvis Costello and the Attractions emerged as one of the most celebrated acts of the London new wave/punk scene. One of several shows captured on the 1984 Goodbye Cruel World tour, the classic Attractions lineup of Steve Nieve on keyboards (who randomly called himself Maurice Worm on this tour), Pete Thomas on drums, and Bruce Thomas on bass never sounded better behind Costello. They had augmented the core band with a sax player, Steve Barnacle, who shines on the newer material.
At the time, Costello was enjoying one of the last chart-hit singles he would have in his career with "The Only Flame In Town," and it is clear that he was trying to find an acceptable balance of the angst-ridden punk of My Aim Is True and This Year's Model, with the more sophisticated adult pop and obscure roots music he had begun exploring in earnest prior to this tour. The result is high energy feel-good punk such as "Mystery Dance," "Girl Talk," and "Watching The Detectives," placed alongside solemn tracks like "Shipbuilding," the haunting anti-war jazz ballad written by Costello and Clive Langer and later recorded by ex-Soft Machine founder Robert Wyatt.
Costello offers a spirited version of The Byrds' 1966 classic, "So You Wanna Be A Rock & Roll Star," which leads the audience into mellower pop tracks such as "The Only Flame In Town," and "Every Day I Write The Book."
Although Costello would go on to work with a number of other backing musicians and go off to do solo collaborations with everyone from Paul McCartney and Burt Bacharach to Allen Toussaint and the Brodskey Quartet, he always returned to his core music with the Attractions (later re-named the Imposters after the departure of Bruce Thomas). This show is a perfect example of why both Costello and this backing band clearly thrive off each other.
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