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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

My Aim Is True

Elvis Costello

1977

Buy At Rough Trade
My Aim Is True
Album Summary

My Aim Is True is the debut studio album by English singer-songwriter Elvis Costello, originally released in the United Kingdom on 22 July 1977 through Stiff Records. After years of little success performing in Britain, Costello was signed to Stiff through the label's founders Dave Robinson and Jake Riviera. Recording sessions for the album took place at Pathway Studios in Islington, London from late 1976 to early 1977, over the course of six four-hour studio sessions. Produced by Stiff artist and musician Nick Lowe, the backing band was made up of members of Clover, a California-based country rock act, who were uncredited on the original release due to contractual difficulties. Costello kept his day job as a data entry clerk during the sessions. At the time performing as D.P. Costello, Riviera changed his name to Elvis after Elvis Presley, and adjusted his image to match the then-rising punk rock movement. The music itself on My Aim Is True is influenced by a wide variety of genres, from punk, new wave and British pub rock to elements of 1950s rock and roll, R&B and rockabilly. The more downbeat lyrics are motivated by revenge and guilt, reflecting topics from relationship struggles to politically charged and misogynistic ideals. The original monochrome cover art, showing Costello in a pigeon-toed stance, was later colourised for reissues. The album was preceded by three singles, all of which failed to chart. By June 1977, Costello formed a new permanent backing band, the Attractions, to better match his new image and commenced live performances with them for the rest of the year. Shortly after Presley's death in August, My Aim Is True reached number 14 on the UK Albums Chart. The American version, released in November 1977 through Columbia Records, added Costello's newest single "Watching the Detectives" as the final track. By then the biggest-selling import album in US history, it peaked at number 32 on Billboard's Top LPs & Tape chart. On release, My Aim Is True was met with critical acclaim, with many praising Costello's musicianship and songwriting; it appeared on several year-end lists. In later decades, commentators consider it one of Costello's finest works, one of the best debut albums in music history and has appeared on numerous best-of lists. The album was reissued in 1993 and 2001, both of which featured extensive liner notes written by Costello, and in 2007 as a deluxe edition.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.36

Votes

13367

Genres

  • Rock
  • Pop
  • New Wave
  • Singer Songwriter

Reviews

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Sat Dec 18 2021
2

I think the editor of 1001 Albums must have lost his first virginity to Elvis Costello or something. Every album is just incredibly okay. Not unpleasant, but pretty good. But he keeps popping up! I am learning that Elvis Costello has existed fairly consistently. But this is meant to be 1001 of the best albums to hear before you die. On my deathbed, of I even remember listening to this, I don't think I'm going to think "I wish I had listened to more of Costello's consistent but dull music.

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Thu Feb 18 2021
1

Is Elvis aim was to produce an album with 13 songs that are exactly the same, he has achieved this.

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Fri May 12 2023
2

A pretty cool style for the time period. Didn't love anything here, but nothing excruciating either Side note; whether intentional or not, this is one of the ugliest album covers I've ever seen with my own eyes

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Wed Oct 13 2021
5

Another artist that I know is well-respected but that I knew little about. What a great album. And the Elvis moniker is very befitting - he's got his own sense of rockabilly for the modern era. Very cool. Some perfect examples were Mystery Dance (sounds like Elvis Presley reimagined) and No Dancing (sounds like a modern cross between the King and the Beach Boys). Welcome to the Working Week might be the coolest 90 second song ever made; it doesn't feel that short with all he packs into it. I still don't love Alison, other than to jokingly sing the title like Costello does. Still, side one is brilliant. Great energy and great arrangements, with neat wordplay. Side two isn't far behind. The singles Red Shoes and Less than Zero are solid, but I really like the tempo and beats in Pay it Back.

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Wed Feb 24 2021
5

Yasssssssss. Not sure anything more needs to be said, but this is in my top 20 ever albums based on the line "she's filing her nails while they're dragging the lake" alone, much less Alison, Angels Want to Wear My Red Shoes and everything else on this goldmine.

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Tue Jan 04 2022
2

What an overrated, low-talent hack. Elvis Costello has hung his whole career on leveraging the misplaced, rose-tinted-glasses nostalgia of white middle class America. And they've eaten it up thinking that this plastic imitation is the real deal.

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Tue Mar 09 2021
5

Now this is some grade-A power pop.

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Tue Feb 23 2021
5

Really like the album, both songs I knew and loved, and others that I had never heard before. To this point, this is my highest rated album.

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Fri Apr 02 2021
5

I would say its at least twice as good Blood and Chocolate so that makes it a 6 on a 5 star scale? I feel like this album has a ton of personality and is fun to listen to. A variety of sounds that all still carry Elvis's style without being an album of songs that all sound the same

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Sun Jul 04 2021
5

What a debut! Costello came out of the gate running. Pure anger, spitting power pop. BT: Welcome To The Working Week, Alison, (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes

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Wed Apr 13 2022
5

One of my all-time favorites. Packed with great songwriting. An incredible debut album. I love how confidently he uses different genre styles throughout the album. There’s some doo-wop on “No Dancing,” country twang on “Blame It On Cain,” old fashioned rock n roll on “Mystery Dance,” and reggae in the beat of “Watching the Detectives.” Most of all Elvis Costello just sounds so cool. He’s a great performer. I remember listening to this in high school and even though I was too nervous to date girls at the time, this album gave me a little window into an adult world of relationships and sex. Hearing Elvis Costello sing about dating with a snarky attitude had a huge impression on me. He was smart and nerdy looking but still had swagger. A lot of songs went over my head — I still don’t know what “(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes” or “Less Than Zero” are about) — but I loved the style with which he sang them. Fun fact: I was Elvis Costello for Halloween in college once and I based my look on this album cover. I’m sorry to say no known photographs exist of this costume but I swear it was really good.

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Wed Oct 13 2021
5

Wow, I really enjoyed this album. I've heard of Elvis Costello, but can't say I ever listened to his music (at least if I did, I didn't know about it). This was just a fun, high quality album. It's like a more modern version of classic rock 'n roll (and songs like No Dancing and Less than Zero sound like pure old fashioned Rock n' roll). Favorite tracks were Miracle Man, Waiting for the End of the World, and Pay It Back (which really got stuck in my head). Least favorite were Alison and I'm Not Angry. Both were just a little cheesy, but still enjoyable (and the guitar on I'm Not Angry was pretty good). Looking forward to listening to more of his stuff.

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Fri Feb 26 2021
2

Better than the other album but I still don't really get what is so important/significant/brilliant about Elvis Costello. 5/10

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Wed Sep 16 2020
5

I really liked this album. Such a good debut record!!

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Fri Jul 22 2022
4

I dug this one a lot for some reason. It’s got this earnest nerdy rock vibe to it that feels like a precursor to more modern stuff I like, like weezer, lcd soundsystem, the strokes. The songs are fun and energetic but also feel genuine and homespun and have a rebellious youth vibe to them. Allison is an all-timer, Welcome to the working week is a great opener, the stretch from blame it on Cain to mystery dance is pretty killer. I don't love watching the detectives as the closer but otherwise I like the album from top to bottom. Probably a strong 8 for me

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Sat Sep 17 2022
4

My fave album by the Other Elvis.

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Thu May 25 2023
3

Just like all his other stuff I like it but don't find it too interesting, feels like he has 1 or 2 songs on an album that are really nice to me and then lots of fillers which I don't mind but are very forgettable

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Mon Jul 12 2021
2

This guy is such an asshole. Best track: Alison

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Wed May 08 2024
5

I dunno man, sometimes shit just rocks

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Sun May 05 2024
4

Wow, it’s hard to believe this is his first, and not a greatest hits album. Lots of really good tunes, and “Alison” just gets better and better with age. “Watching the Detectives” still has an incredible base line and punchey drums, “Less than Zero”, and “Blame it on Cain” still hold up 45 years.

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Mon May 27 2024
4

I discovered and started to like (as much as possible) Elvis Costello on the 1001 list. After five (5!) albums, I feel he can achieve the impossible. He can sound very repetitive, and very repetitive, even though it has one of the widest ranges of styles on the list. How is it possible? I don't know. I prefer his work with "The Attractions," but I didn't dislike this debut. The rawness that is only possible in a debut album saves it from being just "another (but different)" Elvis Costello album.

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Mon May 27 2024
4

A classic. I don’t love Elvis Costello’s later stuff, but this holds. It’s a unique, angsty kind of punk that was very unique at the time.

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Fri May 31 2024
4

Better than I expected—especially because I didn’t like the last EC album.

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Sat Jun 01 2024
4

No one writes or sings like Elvis Costello.

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Fri May 19 2023
3

Living up to my usual tropes re: Elvis Costello, debut albums and Greatest Hits. The tracks from here included on Girls, Girls, Girls are wonderful, the rest very meh particularly those that take a dead end into pop country and rockabilly. Keep trying Elvis!

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Mon May 22 2023
3

This album would have been 5 stars if it was written by Declan Patrick MacManus and not Elvis Costello. Walk into a Johnny Rockets or Hard Rock Café and I can guarantee you hear one of these songs playing. Middle of the road and as vanilla as it gets from the late 70's. Some good hits but nothing special.

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Thu May 25 2023
3

See previous Costello reviews.

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Thu May 25 2023
3

Another album I was dreading this week that was much better than expected, this time thanks to Costello opting to nOt dO waCkY gOofY thInGs WItH hIS vOicE.

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Tue Jun 06 2023
3

Not a huge amount to say about this. Enjoyable for the most part, nothing to write home about though. Just a good 70s album, nothing more or less.

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Thu Jun 08 2023
3

Well you know what it didn't rile me as much as usual. I still find it bland really don't get the ES hype. But still surprisingly ok

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Mon Sep 04 2023
3

this was a bit hit and miss and when i did like a song it was really good as oppose to songs i didnt really like which were fine but not like fine when you see an attractive person and elongate the i in fine

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Tue Jun 06 2023
2

overall: feels like every awkward dance scene in a teen rom com. elvis costello to me sounds like a guy trynna be someone else like drowned in water and thrown across a field? i cant put my finger on it but it just doesnt sound right. the instrumentals arent bad especially for the time. take this album, tweak it for the 90s and it would slap

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Thu Feb 11 2021
5

Great record. Throwback to 50s/60s rock and r&b but with 70s punk vibe/influences. Also somewhat of a landmark for alt/indie rock.

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Mon Apr 26 2021
5

The natural progression of rockabilly, loved it

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Fri Mar 26 2021
5

Very cool album. I don’t like how many of the songs end in fade outs though. 9/10

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Tue Jan 26 2021
5

I've played this a lot since first listening. Miracle Man and Alison are standout songs, but I enjoyed the whole album.

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Thu May 06 2021
5

One of my favorites from high school. Every song is a hit.

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Wed May 12 2021
5

Awesome, great songs, great singer

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Wed May 26 2021
5

Liked this Early Costello is cool

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Sun Jul 25 2021
5

First Elvis album, either Costello or Presley. If we're including "Watching The Detectives" on this album (and there's no reason not to, it was on every United States version of the LP), there's a chance this could be the best Elvis album (although not overall if we include Presley). What a debut album, from the moment the killer Track 1 kicks off through the end. Oh, and "Alison" is on this album. This is the power pop you're looking for. There's a ton of Elvis on this list, and if I could only have one (Costello) album, I'd be hard pressed choosing between this one and "This Year's Model".

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Mon Sep 27 2021
5

Hot damn this is my first experience with Elvis Costello and I am blown away. This album is absolutely fantastic.

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Mon Sep 27 2021
5

Oh, Elvis Costello! Don't know how many times I've listened to this album. Always a pleasure. Brilliant musicians, great singer!

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Wed Oct 13 2021
5

It's not my #1 Elvis Costello album, but it's definitely up there!

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Sat Oct 16 2021
5

When he was hungry, every track could have been a single

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Sun Oct 31 2021
5

One of the great debuts of all time and a long time favorite of mine. Not a dud song on the album. 5 stars 🌟

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Wed Nov 24 2021
5

Elvis Costello crosses so many genres here you’d think it wouldn’t work. Not only does it work, it works in such a way that creates a sound that is unique to Elvis Costello. I can hear a strong Beatles influence as well as elements of reggae, punk, laurel canyon folk, and new wave. Elvis Costello’s vocal delivery is energetic and unique as well

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Fri Nov 26 2021
5

Its nice revisiting this, i appreciate it much more now.

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Tue Dec 14 2021
5

Classic proto-New Wave rock is classic. This is what I expected to see of Elvis Costello on this list, not the 85 other albums that I’ve seen.

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Tue Dec 28 2021
5

I love Elvis Costello and "My Aim is True" is one of my favorites. But most importantly, it got the thumbs up from my daughter when we were listening to it in the car. She said the songs were stuck in her head and she "kinda liked it"

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Tue Dec 28 2021
5

I already owned this one. Love this era of Costello. His first 3 albums are true classics.

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Mon Jan 10 2022
5

zabavnoooo, ovo je odlican album za voznju, 5

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Thu Jan 13 2022
5

Incredible display of rock and roll.

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Tue Jan 18 2022
5

4.5/5. Quite good, prob my fav Costello

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Mon Dec 27 2021
5

One of my favorite records, there are so many great songs! I love the songwriting, the variety of song styles, his vocals, …

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Fri Apr 08 2022
5

Much more eclectic than I was expecting. definitely one to revisit. Cover art 5/5

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Thu Apr 21 2022
5

Liked this one a lot. Never been a huge Costello fan but this album is well done. Great guitar, bass and drum parts. Cool vibe all around.

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Tue Apr 26 2022
5

Viel Gitarre, watching the detectives bekannt und gut, Blues und Rock, gefällt mir

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Mon Jun 06 2022
5

I had a lot of fun listening to this joint! Costello wears a number of different hats, and does it well. At times he alternately sounds like Graham Parker, the Ronettes, Randy Newman and even the Atlanta Rhythm Section - or do they sound like him? Anyway, short, sharp songs redolent of the pub rock scene, without a whole lot of frippery but plenty of flash. A fantastic record.

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Mon Jun 06 2022
5

I've heard this before, but maybe I didn't really listen to it. Regardless, I love this album. Alison is an all-time great song. But there's not really a filler song on this thing. There's a great collision of old-fashioned rock n roll with something unhinged that just really works for me. Great stuff.

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Fri Jul 15 2022
5

p390. 1977. 5 stars Costello when he could still knock out a decent tune. Listening to this, you can see what the fuss was about - razor sharp lyrics, minimal production, and short snappy songs that actually stick in the ear. This is the standard he set himself, and it's just sad to hear the thin meandering whining that he puts out these days compared to this.

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Tue Aug 30 2022
5

Loved this already, though I don't know that I ever owned the whole album

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Sat Sep 17 2022
5

Good quirky pop tunes, really like, should listen again

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Tue Sep 20 2022
5

I've previously questioned whether the number of Elvis Costello albums on this list might be overkill. However, the inclusion of this, Costello's debut, is clearly very well justified. It comprises 12 immaculately written and performed tracks. Each one is an instant ear worm, but with emotion and depth. Top notch. Rating: 4.5/5 Playlist track: Alison Date listened: 17/09/22

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Fri Oct 14 2022
5

Power pop at its very finest. Costello has both wit and wisdom in spades for someone so young.

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Sat Oct 22 2022
5

Definitely the best Costello album on this list, and there is too many. In my opinion this one and this year's model would be enough. With that said, this is a fantastic debut album that keeps you on your toes and your foot tapping.

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Sat Oct 22 2022
5

Classic debut album of Elvis Costello, and the start of quite a long sequence of 5* EC albums.

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Tue Nov 01 2022
5

Oke wel echt zeer hard van genoten...ik ga hem geven maar is een nipte hoor

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Thu Nov 03 2022
5

One of the great first albums.

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Fri Nov 04 2022
5

I took a look at the album releases in 1977 to get an idea of what I was listening to at that time: Pink Floyd>Animals; Steely Dan>Aja and David Bowie>Low. A friend of mine's older brother, who liked the blues, got this album and when I heard it, I found it too rearview mirror gazing and rockabilly-esque for my tastes. But at that point the Sex Pistols or Clash or Talking Heads had yet to touch down in Sudbury. The sound, other than "Detectives", does owe a lot to the 50s rock n' roll. The song-writing is great, especially the lyrics, and there are no dud tracks. My favourite (outside of "Detectives") is "I'm not Angry" which appears to put me at odds with most Spotify listeners. There are other Elvis albums I like more, but this is still a 5 in my books.

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Thu Dec 01 2022
5

10/10 Elvis Costello is the best

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Tue Dec 20 2022
5

There are several "game-changing" albums that helped shape my musical tastes and My Aim Is True is definitely one of them. This album helped define my love of late 70's British punk/New Wave rock that introduced me to similar sounding musicians and bands from the era, Graham Parker, Joe Jackson, Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds (w/ Rockpile), Brinsley Schwarz and Ducks Deluxe. This was Elvis's amazing debut album and how many musicians have released 3 consecutive stunners from the start of their career this good? My Aim Is True has two of EC's career defining songs (Alison, Watching The Detectives) that are essential to any era and genre. His next album is even better with the addition of his semi-perma-band, The Attractions, but there's no doubt that wouldn't have been made without the accomplishment of My Aim Is True and it's impact and success..

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Fri Jan 27 2023
5

Beautiful … Declan Patrick MacManus at his best

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Sat Jan 28 2023
5

Feeling a little meh about Elvis Costello going in but I'm glad to say, I like this one! I like this one a lot! Varied styles from song to song. Hard to pin it to a single decade. A range of feelings. Lots here to like.

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Sat Mar 04 2023
5

"Alison" is one of the greatest pop songs of all time with its wicked double entendre, and it's what initially drew me to him as a teenager. But "Alison" is only one of the many brilliantly crafted songs on this album. EC is able to balance his cerebral wit with a surprising amount of soul, in a way so few other songwriters can. He is, by FAR, my favorite Elvis.

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Tue Mar 07 2023
5

One of the greatest debut albums of all time.

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Thu Mar 09 2023
5

So many hits! Obviously not as exciting as the next album, but the live bands playing the material from the first two albums is my Elvis jam. A little one note, but that's part of the charm. Great record.

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Sat Mar 11 2023
5

Great album from start to finish. Felt like the quickest 36 mins of my life.

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Tue Mar 28 2023
5

Surprisingly great sound here

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Tue Apr 04 2023
5

Perhaps the tightest debut album ever - I remember watching Costello on SNL supporting the release.

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Fri Apr 07 2023
5

Elvis Costello is one of those names that I've always known about but never really dug into his discography. Really enjoyed this debut album, comes out swinging with that first track and has a great energy throughout with the punched up rockabilly style. Added a few tunes to the playlist off of this one, makes me want to dig into his other albums.

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Fri Apr 28 2023
5

The perfect Elvis Costello album. I have noted that he features a bit too much on this list but in this case you couldn't ask for a more worthy album. Singer songwriter, punk poet, all around angry young man.

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Mon May 29 2023
5

There's only one album whose title is tattooed on my body and its this one. 5/5 obvs

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