Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Buy Costello,
Buy Cantrell or just buy indoor fireworks.

Not being a Yank I find it difficult associating fireworks with a summery and bright night sky, my sympathies lying more with Aimee Mann, in her wonderful 4th of July "celebration", a waste of both gunpowder and sky. But I am here to be no party-pooper. I guess I could post some wintery pyromania, to utilise our own UK-centric firework feast, commemorating the day one Guido 'Guy' Fawkes failed to blow up the Houses of Parliament, remaining a hero to this day, more, I feel, for his intent than its thwarting. (Given I was raised in Lewes, near the south-east coast of England, where this achieves some notoriety and fame; remind me nearer the time and I will.)

So my fireworks today are arguably tamer, being of the indoor variety. And you can indeed get such a thing once more, a throw back to simpler times, aka pre-HBO box sets. Deemed safe and sedate, it is hard to see the attraction now. However, back in 1986, Elvis Costello penned my featured song, the lyrics of which contain their evident danger, albeit by way of allegory, below in solo demo starkness:

Undoubtedly one of his finest, or, to detractors, finer lyrical outlays, the conveyed poignancy suits the less frantic setting, the Attractions laid off, by and large, at this stage of his career, replaced by the Confederates, an amalgam of some of the cream of U.S. session men. Here's the studio version, to demonstrate that claim.

Costello has arguably been too wordy and, possibly, too misogynistic to attract as many covers as similarly prolific writers. (Or, decent covers, let's say, as no shortage of karaoke kopyists, spitting his words out in ever more faint mimeograph.) But there are some artists who can catch his drift, intriguingly often female. Laura Cantrell, (yet another) favourite of late UK DJ provocateur John Peel, so possibly even better known in my country than in her own, succeeds with ease and aplomb, wreaking yet more angst in her mournful, keening delivery. Astonishingly, not on YouTube, so I had to make my own, with apologies for the less than galling vid. 

If only for completeness, eternal/occasional E.C. buddy, Nick Lowe covers it as well, his way, with a good deal less charm.

Finally for those who are intrigued by Ms Cantrell covering Costello, here's the logical next step. the pair together, covering James Taylor:

Personally, I find it a bit of a firework itself!

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