The Boy Named If, new album by Elvis & The Imposters, January 14, 2022

Pretty self-explanatory
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Re: The Boy Named If, new album by Elvis & The Imposters, January 14, 2022

Postby johnfoyle » Fri Jan 14, 2022 4:17 am

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/musi ... -1.4772981

Elvis Costello & The Imposters: The Boy Named If – Playing to his strengths

Tony Clayton-Lea
The Irish Times

Fri, Jan 14, 2022

Always changing direction, you might think that 67-year-old Elvis Costello has enjoyed a 40-year-plus career deliberately side-blinding his fans by taking the self-indulgent route of doing anything he damn well wants to. The truth is more prosaic, however, as he has rarely if ever ventured into new territory without knowing what he wants from it, what he feels he can offer and what the results might sound like. His choices haven’t always hit the mark, but his unceasing modus operandi has always been to ask “Why not?” instead of “Why?”, and it is this insistent line of questioning that has supported his status as one of rock music’s most durable figures. With The Boy Named If, Costello has flipped the switch yet again by cleverly turning back the clock with songs that astutely reference (but not reproduce) his 1977-1980 output.

In those punk/post-punk days, Costello was the guy who released catchy songs with lyrics that tripped over themselves. He quickly outran his contemporaries, who had either painted themselves into a corner from which they couldn’t escape or been arrested and locked up by the style police. Costello, however, switched from this to that (country, soul, Americana) and the rest (classical, opera, orchestral, funk, bluegrass, jazz and more besides), all the while maintaining the kind of creative equilibrium that was difficult not to be impressed by. The man’s voice remains an acquired taste, and he can occasionally be as prickly as a roll of barbed wire, but his persistent nature has proven him to be, pretty much, the most explorative of the class of 1977.


Stylistically, The Boy Called If riffs off a recent reworking of his 1978 album, This Year’s Model (as Spanish Model, each song of which features guest Hispanic vocalists). Clearly in the mood for more of the same, he corralled his long-time musical partners Steve Nieve, Pete Thomas (both, of course, former members of Costello’s ace band, The Attractions) and Davey Faragher, and cracked open a few bottles of spiked Prosecco. The results fizz and snarl big time.



The aim is admirably high for the presentation of this album (there is an accompanying booklet of track introductions, narrative segues, illustrations), but for many, the primary thrust is a bunch of songs that, by and large, quickly catch fire and gracefully smoulder. Costello will deliver something different soon enough, no doubt, but The Boy Named If sees him on terrifically familiar ground, feet apart, fists raised, talking the talk again. Suggestion? Pump it up.

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Re: The Boy Named If, new album by Elvis & The Imposters, January 14, 2022

Postby Neil. » Fri Jan 14, 2022 4:34 am

FIRST LISTEN - this is FANTASTIC!!!!! :D :D :D :D :D :D

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Re: The Boy Named If, new album by Elvis & The Imposters, January 14, 2022

Postby sweetest punch » Fri Jan 14, 2022 4:37 am

https://www.showbiz411.com/2022/01/13/e ... hree-years

Elvis Costello Is Releasing Maybe the Best Album of 2022, “The Boy Named If” Second Success in Three Years
by Roger Friedman

I don’t know why it seems like a surprise, but Elvis Costello’s “The Boy Named If” is maybe a masterpiece. And the surprise comes because it’s Costello’s second in three years. His “Look Now,” released in October 2018, won a Grammy Award just in February 2020.

Costello is 67, and has been working away as a provocative and witty songwriter for almost 45 years. His first album, “My Aim is True,” was one of those extraordinary debuts in 1977 that heralded a new generation of punk and New Wave. But it was deceptive. Costello’s most famous song isn’t a rock number. It’s a seething ballad. “Alison” says more about Costello than anything. He loves to rock, but his heart remains in show tunes, R&B, jazz, folk, country. He is elemental in that way.

So many dozens of albums and songs, beloved by his fans, led up to “Look Now.” It’s the kind of album you can play over and over and keep discovering new cool moments, riffs, turns of phrase. “Look Now” was followed by “Hello Clockface,” which was a place holder– several good songs, but no cohesion. After four decades, Costello was allowed.

But now comes “The Boy Named If,” a baker’s dozen of head on classics, very eclectic all. Some sound like they could be from Brecht-Weill. “The Man Love You to Hate” is one of those, and it’s rave up comes pretty way in. on track 10. Indeed, the end of this album is almost better than the beginning, and that’s saying a lot. The record concludes with “Mr. Crescent,” one of the most beautiful songs Costello has ever written.

“The Boy Named If” was recorded remotely, which makes it even more of a triumph. All the musicians were in different places, separated by COVID restrictions. How producer Sebastian Krys and Costello turned this into a seamless production is the huge achievement. (Luckily I got to hear some if it live this fall so I know it can be played, and how good it sounds in front of an audience.) From the blazing kick off of “Farewell, OK.” through “Magnificent Hurt” and track four, “The Difference,” Costello and his Impostors never let go. They just grab you by the throat as if it were 1978 and this was “This Year’s Model,” his second record.

Some of the songs are light, many are dark. Costello always says he considers the fourth track of album to be key. So “The Difference,” a harrowing tale sung in abused daughter’s voice, is the place where “The Boy Named If” has to make itself work. And what starts a romantic recollection turns into something nightmarish and unforgettable. And there is also traditional Costello wordplay, as in “Trick the Truth Out.” There’s also some nice name dropping used to good purpose:

Mussolini and his mistress in defeat

The Marxists cheer a working girl

Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Karl

She’s tattooed from her head to toe

She’s inky like a girl I know

A contagion of invidia

Just like the famous Lydia

Just like Helen, late of Troy

The Myna Bird, the Myrna Loy

Bud and Lou were wrestling in the parlour

Playing cards with Gustav Mahler

We are calling every hand and every hold

I will write more about “The Boy Named If” over the weekend. The members of the Imposters– Steve Nieve (keyboards), Davy Faragher (bass and vocals), Pete Thomas (drums, percussion)– deserve their own plaques for the most interesting work done by any group on any record in recent memory. How the four of these people make this enormous, rich, textured sound is their secret, and again, they did it apart from each other!

Costello knows this album is special. He’s selling an illustrated book with it on his website (I’m awaiting my order now). He’s doing all kinds of video promotion. A Grammy in 2023? Yes, sure. But a wide, appreciative audience for “The Boy Named If” would be the bigger reward.

More to come…
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Re: The Boy Named If, new album by Elvis & The Imposters, January 14, 2022

Postby Hawksmoor » Fri Jan 14, 2022 5:02 am

That's fine, but a bit harsh on Hey Clockface, which I think is an astonishingly good LP. I might be in a minority there, but I really do.

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Re: The Boy Named If, new album by Elvis & The Imposters, January 14, 2022

Postby taramasalata » Fri Jan 14, 2022 5:26 am

With the last sounds of the final "Mr. Crescent" ringing out, I'm left completely amazed...Jesus Christ, what a terrific, what a brillant record!

And that's just a few hours' sleep away from my Spotify listening session at midnight, when after returning from an evening out in a bar drinking beer and playing pool, I forced myself to a first "audition"... which not only harmed my well-deserved sleep but also my ability in listening to music in general :roll:

But on 2nd... and more sober listen, I'm just blown away by the mastery of everything.
And overall it's a triumph of the band, the Imposters!
Though being played down by our man himself in the wonderful interview in Rolling Stone Deutschland, by saying that in a recording session the players would usually not look over another one' shoulder, it's still hard to believe that this excellent band sound wasn't created of them 4 being in a room TOGETHER.
Pete Thomas' being the heart of it all, just always knowing when to speed it up or slow things down, when just let one cymbal lead the moment, Davey Farragher playing the most Bruce Thomas' like ever, when emphasizing the higher notes on the fingerboard, and of course Steve Nieve always adding his wonderful, sometimes romantic other times silly-freaky ornaments figures to it.

Just awesome, Congratulations.

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Re: The Boy Named If, new album by Elvis & The Imposters, January 14, 2022

Postby John » Fri Jan 14, 2022 6:32 am

I ordered the the vinyl/signed cd book from the UK store in December. I received a confirmation but nothing since. They've not taken the money. I was wondering how others are getting on?

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Re: The Boy Named If, new album by Elvis & The Imposters, January 14, 2022

Postby Hawksmoor » Fri Jan 14, 2022 6:36 am

taramasalata wrote:With the last sounds of the final "Mr. Crescent" ringing out, I'm left completely amazed...Jesus Christ, what a terrific, what a brillant record!

And that's just a few hours' sleep away from my Spotify listening session at midnight, when after returning from an evening out in a bar drinking beer and playing pool, I forced myself to a first "audition"... which not only harmed my well-deserved sleep but also my ability in listening to music in general :roll:

But on 2nd... and more sober listen, I'm just blown away by the mastery of everything.
And overall it's a triumph of the band, the Imposters!
Though being played down by our man himself in the wonderful interview in Rolling Stone Deutschland, by saying that in a recording session the players would usually not look over another one' shoulder, it's still hard to believe that this excellent band sound wasn't created of them 4 being in a room TOGETHER.
Pete Thomas' being the heart of it all, just always knowing when to speed it up or slow things down, when just let one cymbal lead the moment, Davey Farragher playing the most Bruce Thomas' like ever, when emphasizing the higher notes on the fingerboard, and of course Steve Nieve always adding his wonderful, sometimes romantic other times silly-freaky ornaments figures to it.

Just awesome, Congratulations.

Agree entirely. For a 67 year-old to be this good, this inventive, on (however you want to count them) something like the 30th LP of his career, is truly exceptional.

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Re: The Boy Named If, new album by Elvis & The Imposters, January 14, 2022

Postby sweetest punch » Fri Jan 14, 2022 6:39 am

https://www.google.be/amp/s/amp.ft.com/ ... 785ee65c5f

Elvis Costello and The Impostors bring whipsmart tunes to The Boy Named If
The new album is a sharp and driven return to the attacking style of earlier days

Elvis Costello’s The Boy Named If begins with no ifs or buts. A clanging guitar riff rings out like a siren, then his lead vocal kicks in. “Farewell, OK/You’ll be on your way,” Costello cries, firing up his new album with a brisk goodbye. It’s the musical equivalent of a rug being pulled from under our feet, a sudden plunge into a world of whip-smart tunes and riddling verses.

Costello likes dealing in opposites. The habit began early, a temperamental sign of young Declan MacManus’s mixed British Protestant-Irish Catholic family background. Reborn as Elvis Costello in the year zero of punk rock, he had a non-punk love for older musical forms, from 1970s pub-rock to the standards played by his father Ross MacManus, a big band musician.

Juxtapositions run through Costello’s musicianship, starting with the doubled perspective of his first hit, 1977’s “Watching the Detectives”. Beguiling melodicism goes with acidic lyricism. A taste for tidily constructed songs is combined with boundless musical wanderlust. Over the course of some three dozen studio albums, the 67-year-old has ranged over country, jazz, hip-hop, classical music and orchestral pop. He has been criticised for his eclecticism, but the itch remains unscratched. “What Is It That I Need That I Don’t Already Have?” asked a song on his last album of new material, 2020’s Hey Clockface.

The Boy Named If follows a customarily busy period of activity. Last year Costello released Spanish Model, a Spanish-language version of his 1978 album This Year’s Model, sung by guest vocalists; and a francophone EP called La Face de Pendule à Coucou, with turns from Isabelle Adjani and Iggy Pop. His 13 new songs are being released with a hardback book featuring 13 spin-off short stories with illustrations. The elaboration is typical — but the album itself is sharp and driven, a succinct return to the attacking style of his earlier days.

Joining Costello is his usual backing band, The Imposters. Steve Nieve’s keyboards skid and swirl through songs like dodgems, drummer Pete Thomas clatters his kit with gusto and bassist Davey Faragher provides the rhythmic glue. Costello sounds invigorated at the microphone, barking out lyrics with impressive vim.

“Farewell, OK” evokes an early Beatles song banged out with noisy energy in a Hamburg dive. “The Boy Named If” combines a stompy beat with neat melodic pivots. “Mistook Me for a Friend” blends a peppy Motown beat with 1960s organ licks and power-pop choruses. “The Man You Love To Hate” has the uproarious sound of a ska singalong in a bierkeller cabaret.

The songs are based around characters such as the footloose protagonist of “Penelope Halfpenny” and the romantic rogue portrayed in “Mr Crescent”. But The Boy Named If deploys a different style of storytelling from its near namesake, Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue”. Rather than Cash’s witty, twist-in-the-tale narrative, Costello’s songs have surreal scenarios and wordplay laced with vivid one-liners and ingenious rhyming couplets.

Stimulants lead to tearful predicaments in “Magnificent Hurt”; lies and threats run up debts in “Paint the Red Rose Blue”. Recurring themes — crime, music, cinema, sex, religion, colours, the stage — are scattered through the songs like the parts of a puzzle. The results are at once catchy and cryptic. These bustling, up-and-at-‘em songs have secrets.

★★★★☆
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Re: The Boy Named If, new album by Elvis & The Imposters, January 14, 2022

Postby invisible Pole » Fri Jan 14, 2022 7:56 am

https://www.insidehook.com/article/musi ... cord-years

Elvis Costello Tackles Adolescence With His Best Record in Years
"The Boy Named If" sees Costello and the Imposters in fine form

BY BONNIE STIERNBERG

It’s been decades since Elvis Costello’s “angry young man” period. Since then, he’s cooled off and branched out, broadening his horizons with excellent forays into more adult-contemporary fare like Tin Pan Alley-inspired pop, piano jazz and even the occasional bluegrass record. But on his new album with the Imposters, The Boy Named If (out today), he sets his sights back on his youth, revisiting that transitional period of life he describes as “the last days of a bewildered boyhood to that mortifying moment when you are told to stop acting like a child — which for most men (and perhaps a few gals, too) can be any time in the next 50 years.”

Costello notes that the “If” moniker in the title is an abbreviation for “imaginary friend,” and a deluxe edition of the record comes with an 88-page hardcover book called The Boy Named If and Other Children’s Tales featuring short stories inspired by each of the album’s 13 tracks. But don’t get it twisted: this is not a children’s record. These are tales of adultery, violence and scheming, all told with the wisdom, nuance and clever wordplay we’ve come to expect from the man born Declan McManus. The concept is a loose one — more like a subtle, common thread than any kind of heavy-handed narrative — and thankfully so, because it gives the music room to breathe.

Sonically, The Boy Named If is the closest Costello (and, of course, the Imposters — his classic Attractions lineup with bassist Bruce Thomas replaced by Davey Faragher) has sounded to his fiery late-’70s output in years. You’ll hear traces of This Year’s Model and Armed Forces all over it, but especially on opening track “Farewell, OK,” a sneering kiss-off elevated by Steve Nieve’s familiar organ riffs. “Magnificent Hurt” also sounds like it could have been recorded 40 years ago, in the best way possible; it’s the hardest Costello has rocked in quite some time.

But The Boy Named If isn’t one-note, and there are also ballads and other tracks that call to mind Costello’s more recent output and highlight his stellar lyricism. On the standout “My Most Beautiful Mistake,” which features some guest vocals from Nicole Atkins, he presents us with the story of a filmmaker in a diner trying to woo a “waitress with dreams of greatness.” “He wrote her name out in sugar on a Formica counter; ‘You could be the game that captures the hunter.’ Then he went out for cigarettes, as the soundtrack played The Marvelettes,” he sings. (The waitress, however, remains skeptical: “I’ve seen your kind before in courtroom sketches,” she tells him.)

“Trick Out the Truth” is a sufficiently spooky-sounding Halloween track that evokes the childhood nostalgia of costumes and candy but reminds us that real life has far more terrifying monsters. (Yes, this is a song that name-drops both Godzilla and Mussolini.) Ultimately, it winds up being about the kind of adult anxiety that puts ghosts and ghouls to shame: “What will they say when they haul you away?” Costello wonders. “Will anyone miss you, or kiss you, to say goodbye with a tear or a coin for your eye, when they finally trick out the truth?” The messiness of adulthood also haunts other tracks on the record, like the excellent “What If I Can’t Give You Anything But Love?” (about the end of an extramarital affair and full of casually devastating lines like “When this is over, I go back to my wife and the man that she lives with and that other life”) and “Paint The Red Rose Blue.” Costello describes the latter as “the account of someone who has long-courted theatrical darkness, only for its violence and cruelty to become all too real. In its wake, a bereft couple learn to love again, painting a melancholy blue over the red of romance.” It’s a killer (no pun intended) character study, full of gems that remind us why he’s celebrated as one of our greatest songwriters. “The words that came to him, both the lies and the threats/ They arrived all too easily, but they ran up some debts/From the thunder of a pulpit to the whispers of a lover/Till he found that he couldn’t tell one from another,” he croons.

Ultimately, Costello’s 32nd studio album isn’t so much about a coming-of-age as it is our inner child — not some long-lost sense of whimsy, but that uncontrollable id, all of the base instincts that we’re supposed get better at ignoring the older we get. It’s a record about lost souls and stunted growth and selfish adults who have probably been told to act their age on multiple occasions. In other words, it covers a lot of the same ground as some of his most beloved work. But miraculously, The Boy Named If doesn’t feel like a rehashing of the past or an artist resting on his laurels; it calls to mind old favorites, but it tweaks the formula just enough to keep it interesting, and it stands as proof that Costello can still fire off an essential listen nearly half a century into his career. If this is what this angry young man sounds like at age 67, one can only hope he keeps tapping that well for another few decades.
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Re: The Boy Named If, new album by Elvis & The Imposters, January 14, 2022

Postby verbal gymnastics » Fri Jan 14, 2022 9:05 am

Neil. wrote:FIRST LISTEN - this is FANTASTIC!!!!! :D :D :D :D :D :D


Wholeheartedly agree.

It’s stunning. I desperately need to get to more shows in summer. I’d love it if they played this in full at any of the shows I go to.

Breathtakingly good.
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Re: The Boy Named If, new album by Elvis & The Imposters, January 14, 2022

Postby migdd » Fri Jan 14, 2022 9:28 am

John wrote:I ordered the the vinyl/signed cd book from the UK store in December. I received a confirmation but nothing since. They've not taken the money. I was wondering how others are getting on?


I received a shipment confirmation two days ago; however USPS is still not in possession of the item. This is the US store.

I have a feeling we'll be waiting a while for our orders to arrive.

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Re: The Boy Named If, new album by Elvis & The Imposters, January 14, 2022

Postby Hawksmoor » Fri Jan 14, 2022 9:32 am

Neil. wrote:FIRST LISTEN - this is FANTASTIC!!!!! :D :D :D :D :D :D

Fifth listen: this is jaw-droppingly good. The Elvis Costello LP we've been waiting for, for 40 years? It's going to take weeks to explore all the hooks and the lyrics. As a fan of any artist, you prepare yourself for regular disappointment as they get older. But this is outrageously, hook-laden, tuneful, lyrically brilliant, in-your-face fantastic. Totally backed the right horse in 1978.

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Re: The Boy Named If, new album by Elvis & The Imposters, January 14, 2022

Postby Uncomplicated » Fri Jan 14, 2022 11:47 am

Neil. wrote:FIRST LISTEN - this is FANTASTIC!!!!! :D :D :D :D :D :D


It sure is!
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Re: The Boy Named If, new album by Elvis & The Imposters, January 14, 2022

Postby Pigalle » Fri Jan 14, 2022 11:47 am

John wrote:I ordered the the vinyl/signed cd book from the UK store in December. I received a confirmation but nothing since. They've not taken the money. I was wondering how others are getting on?


My shipment of two books plus a cd arrived this morning. Both books are damaged probably because Yodel through the package over the fence :cry:

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Re: The Boy Named If, new album by Elvis & The Imposters, January 14, 2022

Postby jardine » Fri Jan 14, 2022 11:51 am

Okay, well, not often that first listen makes me think it might be the best. The inventiveness is crackling, the playing is crackling, melodies, words, variety, consistency...yow!

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Re: The Boy Named If, new album by Elvis & The Imposters, January 14, 2022

Postby belfast » Fri Jan 14, 2022 12:02 pm

This new album is quite a surprise. The last album I really liked from start-to-finish was The Delivery Man and even that took some time to grow on me, but right off the bat, this one just grabbed. I almost couldn't believe it, but I've played several times and this is the first album in a while that was this easy to like. (FWIW, every album he's made after The Delivery Man usually has four or five tracks that I really like, but until now, I just wasn't taken with them as a whole.)

Re: Hey Clockface, I thought that was underrated, partly because it didn't get as many press reviews as his other recent releases. Very few of the major news outlets in the U.S. reviewed it. There are a couple of tracks that don't work - the title track or "Hetty O'Hara Confidential" - and both were released ahead of the album to promote it so they kept my expectations low. But take those two out of the equation and you're still left with more than enough for an LP's worth. Also, once you drop the title track and "Hetty O'Hara," the flow is dramatically improved with the first half dominated by excellent rock songs and bold, successful experiments and the second half dominated by delicate ballads. It all ends up sounding like a cleanly bifurcated album that brilliantly covers two different sides of Elvis Costello. (TBH, the ballads aren't a side of his music that I prefer, but I have to admit they're done well.) With The Boy Named If, it's like having Side A of Hey Clockface turned into a whole album, but with even better material.

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Re: The Boy Named If, new album by Elvis & The Imposters, January 14, 2022

Postby Ulster Boy » Fri Jan 14, 2022 12:32 pm

Mine hasn’t arrived so just one listen through so far via Spotify. I keep expectations low (that way you can’t be disappointed) and was wary of some of the pre-release marketing as it echoed that for Blood and Chocolate (“Costello sings again}!), Brutal Youth (“The Attractions are back!” Even though they weren’t really), When I was cruel (“he has a band again!”) and Momofuko (“they just went in and recorded it in a couple of days!”) - basically, releases that I’m sure record company people would consider an “Elvis Costello” record. The sort of release Van Morrison releases every year or so, though in his case they started being indistinguishable one from another. And whilst I like those previous four albums, I’d rank them in the order of release with B&C the best and diminishing returns thereafter.

This one is much better than Momofuko, the overall band sound of which I didn’t particularly care for. The recording suffers a little from ECs voice being mixed so loud, which also blighted BY. But there are definitely really good songs here and I look forward to a more detailed in depth listen via my home Naim/Neat set up as opposed to ear buds.

It is tempting to hear echoes of previous releases - Penelope Halfpenny sounds like it came straight off the Wendy James demos, there’s bits of Trust and Delivery Man - and try and spot some musical allusions (one track, can’t remember the title, starts off sounding like Here come old flattop off Come Together - and there’s a familiarity about it all, unmistakably an “Elvis Costello” record. And no bad thing. The surprise for me is the high quality of the singing and playing and the prospect of dissecting the lyrics. But very immediate first go round. And doesn’t overstay it’s welcome.

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Re: The Boy Named If, new album by Elvis & The Imposters, January 14, 2022

Postby Hawksmoor » Fri Jan 14, 2022 12:49 pm

Playing it over and over, it is just a great, great record. I'm sure as time goes by and we start to delve into the lyrics and the instrumentation we can all find echoes of Trust, Blood and Chocolate, TYM, MLAR, whatever you fancy. But for me, right now, it's just that moment right at the end, when after 50-odd minutes of late 1970s New Wave tunefulness - and incredible wordplay - he hits that 'I wonder where my honey has gone' with a sheen of country-and-western guitar behind it, and I could burst into tears.

I get that there's a sense of 'ah, we all love it when he stops piddling about with ballets and jazz records and sticks to what he knows best'. There's some of that going on, for sure. But behind that is that the fact that this is just a brilliant LP. We all know that if Elvis Costello had stopped making records in 1990 we would still regard him as the greatest singer/songwriter of his generation. But at 67, with 30-40 LPs under your belt, to knock this one out of the park is just astonishing.

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Re: The Boy Named If, new album by Elvis & The Imposters, January 14, 2022

Postby sweetest punch » Fri Jan 14, 2022 12:58 pm

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/musi ... f-1269005/

Reassessing His Back Catalog and Why He’s a ‘Freak of Nature’
Singer-songwriter talks new album The Boy Named If, the legacy of “Alison,” the genius of Jeff Buckley, his past collaboration with Paul McCartney, and more

Before the pandemic hit, Elvis Costello was living what he calls a “carefree and jet-set” lifestyle. He’d recorded a well-received album, 2020’s Hey Clockface, completed a tour, and had even tracked a handful of new songs in Helsinki and Paris before Covid hit pause on the world.

“The next thing, I found myself staring at the water on Vancouver Island, not knowing when I would leave again, not knowing when we’d start work again,” he says on a call from his Manhattan home this past November. “So I looked at a group of songs that I had begun that year, and I saw they were actually connected in some ways. They were, I hate to use the word ‘philosophical,’ but they did have a look at life at different times —the innocence of childhood, the confusion of young adulthood, and then looking back at different things with a different perspective later.” Those tunes — some of which sound carefree and jet-set, some which reflect the singer-songwriter’s trademark bittersweet brooding — now comprise his 32nd studio album, The Boy Named If, out this week.

Costello, who was born Declan MacManus in London 67 years ago, has always been an introspective songwriter, chronicling the acrimony, shame, and occasional glimmers of hope that accompany everyday life for the past 40-plus years. He’s the first to point out that while songs like “Alison” and “Pump It Up” are beloved classics, neither were smash successes. His biggest hit in the U.S. came in 1987 with “Veronica,” a song about the unlikely subject of Alzheimer’s that peaked at Number 19 on the Billboard chart. So his perspective on his career is that it’s been successful enough to allow him to keep making more albums, tour, and collaborate with artists he grew up admiring. Over the years, he’s taken advantage of opportunities to work with Paul McCartney, Burt Bacharach, the Roots, and many others. His artistry earned the singer an Order of the British Empire medal for his contributions to the arts.

In an interview for Rolling Stone’s Last Word column, Costello reflected on what he’s learned at nearly every stage of his life and what keeps him going. “I’ve been doing it long enough now that I should’ve learned something,” he says. “For heaven’s sake, you can become a priest and a doctor in seven years; I’ve been doing this 43, I should be able to do something by now. I certainly can’t do anything else.”

In 1977, you said that your primary motivations were “revenge and guilt.” Does that still hold true?
Yeah, I had drunk about half a bottle of Pernod when I said that. I thought it sounded good and so did the journalist, and then I have people quoting it back to me as if it was a page from the catechism. It’s just some moment of bravado. It sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? But think it through for a minute and it doesn’t make sense. But awfully picturesque.

How did you learn to move past that press persona?
Making 30 or more albums. Each one is different in personality. Those records sometimes require you to unpack that mythmaking aspect of those first few records, because if you listen to the individual songs on those first albums, you’ll find much more nuance to what’s being said about anything. And to some degree, if you’re stuck with my face and my voice, things sound more aggressive because I’m a freak of nature. I have a gap in my teeth. Everything explodes out of my mouth as either a threat or a snarl [laughs].

What do you think caused you to think about the various stages of life while writing the songs on The Boy Named If?
I do have boys that will be 15 next week, and an elder son who’s in his forties, so I have the perspective on some of these transitions. And I lost my father 10 years ago; I lost my mother early last year. Those things will tend to make you think about yourself as a child because now you’re promoted by that event in some way.

How did your mother and father influence you as a songwriter?
I wrote a 600-page book [2015’s Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink] sort of romanticizing the stories of my grandfather and my father as traveling musicians and how it influenced me. But I also began that book when my father was in his last illness with Parkinson’s. Although he had passed during the process of me writing that book, he was sort of alive on the page, wasn’t he? The actual truth was, it was my mother that told me to write things down that troubled me or bothered me, both good and bad ways. That was her example.

You have a line on “Farewell, OK,” a track from the new record, about “Elvis in the velvet hereafter.” What’s your relationship with the name Elvis now?
I never really hear it because my family don’t call me that; most people call me by my initials, which my dad began. He called me “D.P.” [for “Declan Patrick”] so that’s an Irish convention, I guess, that he picked up. And I don’t really hear many people call me by that name, so I just don’t hear it anymore. It’s like a secret identity, or something; it’s like being called Clark Kent. It’s just a name. It’s just a brand.

You’ve played with the Attractions’ Steve Nieve and Pete Thomas for more than 40 years in different capacities. What’s the secret to making a collaboration like that work?
Well, of course there was a time when we didn’t work together. They had different views of what that band was; we had reached an end with that band a couple of times, two or three times, long before we actually disbanded for the first time, let alone the second time. … Even when we weren’t cohesive, we made good records. Blood & Chocolate was a good record, and we were completely at war most of the time. Sometimes not getting along can be good. You didn’t have to be happy-go-lucky or cheery all the time. That’s not really what it’s about.

What still attracts you to writing rock music?
I don’t like much rock music. I like rock & roll. I think if you lose the roll part, a lot of the fun goes out of it. And when people ask me, “What’s your favorite record?” I usually don’t name any electric-guitar records made in the last 30 years because the beat is so square. I like things that float a bit or swing a bit, whether it’s rock & roll or actual jazz that swings, or even the way Hank Williams records lope.

You listen to these records out of Nashville, they couldn’t float if you filled them full of water. They just don’t; they’re square and they sound like bad rock records from the Nineties. To my ear, they just do. But somebody likes them. My grandfather — he was a trumpet player — never used to criticize other musicians. I’m trying to live by his example a little better these times and not be so critical of everybody else. But you can’t like everything.

Do you wish you could record songs in a different style?
I wish I could sing certain types of tunes that I’ll never be able to sing. I don’t think I’m ever going to sing as a countertenor.

What songs do you wish you could sing?
It would be great to sing [Purcell’s] “When I Am Laid in Earth” like Jeff Buckley did at Meltdown in ’95. It was astonishing to hear him sing this piece of music from Jacobean times, and it just feel like it could’ve been written for his voice. But he had such a gift of an instrument of a voice. He could turn that to all sorts of music that took his interest, and it didn’t sound in any way an affectation that he did it. He would sing Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan pieces he’d learn phonetically; he didn’t understand the language. He talked about singing Mahler at that festival. I said, “That’s in German. Do you speak German?” “No, I’ll learn it.”
I was curating that festival. Now it’s very poignant because it was his last performance in London, but we didn’t know that then. His life was ahead. There was all these great things that he was still going to do. That was just a very sad coincidence. We should be happy that he sang it that one time. You heard him sing something like [“When I Am Laid in Earth”], surely you’ve heard Grace, you’ve heard “Corpus Christi Carol” by Benjamin Britten — he could sing that as well as he could sing a song by Morrissey, although why anybody would want to do that, I don’t know. Or a song by Led Zeppelin; why anybody would want to do that, I don’t know, but he did. That’s his choice.

You’ve collaborated with Paul McCartney and Burt Bacharach on songs, but they seem to write words to fit the melodies where you have said you do the opposite. What have you learned from working with them?
With Paul, we started very spontaneously. One of us would start strumming a rhythm and then some harmony would emerge. Like most everybody, I’ve been watching Get Back. And it’s really amazing to see the Beatles writing like that … taking those same stumbling steps that all songwriters take, letting the nonsense words almost carry the tune for a moment, and then the real meaning comes out from that. So I did actually have that experience of writing with Paul in that manner. I’m not saying [my experience is] equal, but that was one of the ways we worked.

What about working with Burt Bacharach?
With Burt Bacharach, it was very different. It was predominantly music first and often one or the other of us would make the first musical statement. In some cases, I wrote a melody to which he would write the bridge. Sometimes writing every other line would come from one or the other of us once we’d got a dialogue going. But then my job would be to respond to the mood and the implication of that music, what would serve that music in a narrative. The mood of the music was very apparently melancholic and reflective, so I didn’t want to overcomplicate lyrics with lots of showy images. I wanted to keep the language fairly plainspoken.

When you’re writing without a collaborator, you can choose to speak simply, or you can sometimes explore more images that the listener has to ponder more. There’s some lyrics that I wrote for Imperial Bedroom that are quite opaque. There are some songs that I wrote 10 years ago that have very clear narratives, like “Jimmie Standing in the Rain,” and then others that are much more impressionistic, like “Stations of the Cross.” If you read that lyric, you can see the seams within each verse, but each verse does not necessarily lead to the next; they lead to the chorus. Sometimes it’s almost like the editorial function because the bridge might be from the perspective of the other character in the song, or it might step outside a first-person narrative to observe that. You can travel in time and space just like a novelist can, but you’re doing it in a much more compressed form in a song.

What have you learned about expressing complicated perspectives in your lyrics?
You don’t usually get taken to jail for killing people in songs. “Watching the Detectives,” “Alison,” “Man Out of Time” — these are just early songs that seem to mention murder or shooting people, but they don’t actually describe shooting people. That’s not what they’re about. They’re not about an act of violence at all. They’re about observing violence on a TV or they’re about taking the hope from somebody or taking the will to carry on from yourself. There’s all sorts of ways that you might choose to express it: Sometimes extreme language is used to convey something very mundane, but nevertheless, something that you feel you want to say.

Early on you actively kept “Alison” out of your set lists. Why was that?
Because it was the only ballad we had. It was like a moment where the tension would slacken in the show, and that wasn’t what I wanted. So I felt, “Well, that makes it too easy. Let’s make it a little harder. Let’s play a bunch of songs they haven’t heard yet.” So, we played the second record, which nobody had heard. I think those were probably stronger songs for the Attractions because we had started to record them [for Costello’s first LP with the group, This Year’s Model] and they belonged to us.

Last year, you released Spanish Model, which featured Spanish-speaking singers covering This Year’s Model. Did that give you a new perspective on those songs?
I was sort of shocked to find several of these songs had much better tunes when sung by somebody with an evidently more beautiful voice than I have. “Hand in Hand” quite surprised me. That’s quite a pretty tune. It literally never occurred to me, because it was “don’t ask me to apologize” — all attitude. And then [on Spanish Model] I heard that I’d actually set it to quite a tender tune, much more so than I sang it.

Speaking of attitude, in 1977, you were famously banned from SNL after suddenly switching to “Radio, Radio” in the middle of your slot. How do you look back on that decision now?
Before anybody noticed that we’d even done it, we were back in England, recording the rest of This Year’s Model. We’d forgotten about America temporarily, because we had to be on Top of the Pops in England. We never thought about NBC again. …  It’s clear we weren’t going to have a career in television; they told us that. And guess what? I never wanted one, really.
Last edited by sweetest punch on Fri Jan 14, 2022 1:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Since you put me down, it seems i've been very gloomy. You may laugh but pretty girls look right through me.

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Re: The Boy Named If, new album by Elvis & The Imposters, January 14, 2022

Postby Newspaper Pane » Fri Jan 14, 2022 1:18 pm

Hawksmoor wrote:That's fine, but a bit harsh on Hey Clockface, which I think is an astonishingly good LP. I might be in a minority there, but I really do.


Couldn't agree more! I like HC better than Look Now, personally.

Someone here mentioned the Wendy James demos. I had the same thought about several of the new songs!

sweetest punch
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Re: The Boy Named If, new album by Elvis & The Imposters, January 14, 2022

Postby sweetest punch » Fri Jan 14, 2022 2:09 pm

https://oor.nl/albums/the-boy-named-if/

ELVIS COSTELLO & THE IMPOSTERS
THE BOY NAMED IF

Eind jaren zeventig was Elvis Costello de ongekroonde zonnekoning van de new wave: meerdere malen nummer 1 in de jaarlijstjes van de critici en headliner op de grote festivals. Daarna vertrok hij op een muzikale ontdekkingsreis die hem langs country, jazz, klassieke muziek, Tin Pan Alley en een ex-Beatle voerde. Teruggrijpen deed hij eigenlijk nooit, tot hij vorig jaar Spanish Model uitbracht, een vertaalde versie van This Year’s Model, ingezongen over de originele begeleidingstapes door bekende vocalisten uit Latijns-Amerika.

Met The Boy Named If laat Elvis Costello horen op zijn 67ste nog altijd zo’n plaat te kunnen maken, met ijzersterke songs en een daverende productie. De opener Farewell, OK komt even bruusk binnen als No Action toen. En binnen een paar seconden is duidelijk dat The Imposters gewoon The Attractions zijn met op bas Davey Faragher in plaats van Bruce Thomas. In Penelope Halfpenny horen we drummer Pete Thomas weer tekeergaan als een bezetene. Voor Magnificent Hurt trekt Steve Nieve dat knerpende Farfisa-orgel weer uit de kast. Artiesten die mikken op hun vroegere succesgeluid schieten meestal mis, maar niet Elvis Costello. Sound en energie zijn als vroeger, maar ook qua teksten en melodieën is hij in topvorm. Hij grijpt ook niet alleen maar terug: als gitarist blijkt hij in de loop der jaren het nodige te hebben bijgeleerd van met name Tom Waits-gitarist Marc Ribot. In Mistook Me For A Friend klinkt hij oprecht boos en ongewoon venijnig, in Paint The Red Rose Blue warm en begripvol. Het duet My Most Beautiful Mistake met Nicole Atkins is prachtige verhalende pop, The Man You Love To Hate aanstekelijk sixtiespop op zijn Ray Davies. Songs benoemen als hoogtepunt is verleidelijk, maar The Boy Named If is een prachtige vuurwerkshow waarbij de oh’s en ah’s elkaar opvolgen. Een heerlijk album dat je zo naast My Aim Is True, This Year’s Model en Armed Forces in de platenkast kunt schuiven. Maar pas nadat je hem helemaal hebt grijsgedraaid.

—————
Google translation:

ELVIS COSTELLO & THE IMPOSTERS
THE BOY NAMED IF

At the end of the seventies, Elvis Costello was the uncrowned sun king of the new wave: several times number 1 in the annual lists of the critics and headliner at the major festivals. He then embarked on a musical journey of discovery that took him through country, jazz, classical music, Tin Pan Alley and an ex-Beatle. He never really looked back, until last year he released Spanish Model, a translated version of This Year's Model, sung over the original accompaniment tapes by well-known vocalists from Latin America.

With The Boy Named If, Elvis Costello shows that at the age of 67 he can still make such an album, with strong songs and a thunderous production. The opener Farewell, OK comes in as brusquely as No Action then. And within a few seconds it is clear that The Imposters are simply The Attractions with Davey Faragher on bass instead of Bruce Thomas. In Penelope Halfpenny we hear drummer Pete Thomas going mad again. For Magnificent Hurt, Steve Nieve pulls out that creaking Farfisa organ again. Artists aiming for their former success sound usually miss out, but not Elvis Costello. Sound and energy are as before, but also in terms of lyrics and melodies he is in top form. He also doesn't just go back: as a guitarist he appears to have learned a lot over the years, especially from Tom Waits guitarist Marc Ribot. In Mistook Me For A Friend he sounds genuinely angry and unusually vicious, in Paint The Red Rose Blue warm and understanding. The duet My Most Beautiful Mistake with Nicole Atkins is beautiful narrative pop, The Man You Love To Hate catchy sixties pop on his Ray Davies. Naming songs as a highlight is tempting, but The Boy Named If is a beautiful fireworks show in which the oh's and ah's follow each other. A wonderful album that you can put in your record collection next to My Aim Is True, This Year's Model and Armed Forces. But only after you've turned it all gray.
Since you put me down, it seems i've been very gloomy. You may laugh but pretty girls look right through me.

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Re: The Boy Named If, new album by Elvis & The Imposters, January 14, 2022

Postby sweetest punch » Fri Jan 14, 2022 2:13 pm

https://www.loudersound.com/reviews/elv ... y-named-if

Elvis Costello & The Imposters continue winning streak with The Boy Named If
Elvis Costello conjures up echoes of his excellent past as the excellence continues on The Boy Named If (And Other Children’s Stories)
4,5 stars out of 5

It’s been a busy 12 months for Elvis Costello: he’s released the album Hey Clockface, a French EP based on it, and a re-worked, Spanish version of his 1978 album This Year’s Model. And now he’s back with The Boy Named If (And Other Children’s Stories).

Like most artists of a certain age, Costello tends to refer to his previous musical output, and The Boy Named If encompasses many eras of Costello’s work.

There’s the baroque pop of Imperial Bedroom on The Difference, there’s the passion of Blood And Chocolate on What If I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, you could almost put Paint The Red Rose Blue on Painted From Memory, and My Most Beautiful Mistake on King Of America.

But while everything here echoes its maker’s past, it all sounds new. Costello’s endless drive and passion don’t so much blow away cobwebs as dynamite the nearest dam and send them to a watery death.

He describes his recent work as “records that are happening right now”. And he’s not wrong. The Boy Named If (And Other Children’s Stories) is excellent.
Since you put me down, it seems i've been very gloomy. You may laugh but pretty girls look right through me.

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Re: The Boy Named If, new album by Elvis & The Imposters, January 14, 2022

Postby sweetest punch » Fri Jan 14, 2022 2:15 pm

Since you put me down, it seems i've been very gloomy. You may laugh but pretty girls look right through me.

sweetest punch
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Re: The Boy Named If, new album by Elvis & The Imposters, January 14, 2022

Postby sweetest punch » Fri Jan 14, 2022 2:23 pm

https://www.metroweekly.com/2022/01/alb ... -costello/

Album Review: ‘The Boy Named If’ by Elvis Costello
Elvis Costello and The Imposters once again come together to make musical magic
By Sean Maunier on January 14, 2022

Elvis Costello has become that rare artist who has been around seemingly forever but emerges every so often to remind us that he’s still at the top of his game. Over a decade after he publicly and alarmingly mused about giving up recording altogether, Costello is back for another kick at the can with The Boy Named If (And Other Children’s Stories) (★★★★☆).

Costello once again shares the limelight with his longtime backing band The Imposters, last heard on 2018’s phenomenal Look Now, an album that owed its success as much to the band’s heavy lifting as it did to Costello’s own talent and magnetism.

This time The Imposters once again work with the singer like a purpose-built machine, whether they are grinding out the classic rock sounds of “Mistook Me For a Friend,” swinging new wavey rhythms on “Hey Penelope,” or producing carnivalesque honky tonk lines on “The Man You Love To Hate.” The album is easily one of Costello’s most internally diverse yet consistently high quality, and it is hard to imagine how it could have been accomplished without the assistance of a band capable of playing in lockstep with its creator.

While it is easy enough to get consumed by the upbeat vibes and miss it, there is a story woven into the album too. The Boy Named If is meant to chart the journey from boyhood to manhood, focusing on what Costello calls “that mortifying moment when you are told to stop acting like a child,” whenever that happens to be.

According to Costello, the boy named “If” in the title is meant to be somewhere between an imaginary friend and an inner self, an idea that Costello fleshes out on the title track. This is where the theme of crossing over into adulthood appears most obviously, but each song is intended as a snapshot of a step along the journey — some of which are cryptic enough that a fan who’s deeply invested in teasing out the meanings should probably consult the limited edition storybook edition of the album.

If Costello’s preoccupation with childhood and inner lives is any indication, this is meant to be a reflective, retrospective album — or at least that’s the mood Costello and the Impersonators seem to have found themselves in on many of its tracks. The single “Farewell OK” opens the album with Costello literally bidding farewell, singing the title repeatedly as if to make it absolutely crystal clear that he’s ready to move on, and he’s feeling just fine with it.

When it comes to setting the tone, the opener’s content may be less significant than Costello’s choice to kick things off with an energetic rock n’ roll number. It not only gives a good indication of what’s about to follow, but signals a return to the styles with which he first made a name for himself. Aside from “Paint the Red Rose Blue” and “My Most Beautiful Mistake,” two somewhat melancholy numbers that also happen to stand out as two of the best songs, Costello is in as upbeat a mood as he’s ever been, reveling in the sounds of his celebrated early work. For all his talk of moving on, he is clearly indebted to his own musical past.

The Boy Named If is as solid and sophisticated an album as we have come to expect from Costello. Even among his stellar recent output, its energetic buoyancy, musical diversity, and sense of fun help it to stand out as the work of a musical icon unapologetically playing to all his strengths.
Since you put me down, it seems i've been very gloomy. You may laugh but pretty girls look right through me.

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Re: The Boy Named If, new album by Elvis & The Imposters, January 14, 2022

Postby sweetest punch » Fri Jan 14, 2022 2:24 pm

Since you put me down, it seems i've been very gloomy. You may laugh but pretty girls look right through me.


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