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My Aim Is True – Elvis Costello

My Aim Is True

1977, 8/10
Elvis Costello had been gigging in pubs since 1970, but the proliferation of new labels with the birth of punk gave him the opportunity to cut his first album in 1976. His debut had originally been intended as demos for Dave Edmunds, as he was seen as a songwriter rather than a performer, but the demos he presented to Stiff Records were strong enough to be released as his first proper album. They were recorded with American country band Clover, whose members later went on to achieve success with Huey Lewis and the News and The Doobie Brothers. As a result, the album’s arrangements are less aggressive and more generic than Costello’s subsequent work with the Attractions, but he’s already a very good song-writer, and My Aim Is True is an incredibly assured debut.

The central song is the tender ‘Alison’, where the often bristly Costello shows empathy towards the down-trodden protagonist. There’s also the excellent white reggae of ‘Watching The Detectives’, probably the album’s other most remembered song. But there’s plenty of tuneful, memorable material scattered throughout the disc – the hooky ‘Less Than Zero’, the jaunty ‘Sneaky Feelings’, and the ironically titled ‘I’m Not Angry’.

My Aim Is True is a strong debut from Costello, and he’d soon recruit a backing band to make his music even sharper.

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