Elvis is Red!

Well it’s that time again here at WMMCM when we have finally gotten bored with good songs or bad, with stupid names. Hey, if we were a country music site we could have gone on all year but, then who would really want an entire year of that? Not us. We are adventurers and seekers of the latest trends that happened thirty years ago and no, we don’t live in the past so much as we revel in it from time to time.

So, now that we have decided to venture on to greener pastures – kind of – it’s now time to get colorful. We’ve travelled through the blues and made a few faints here and there towards jazz, or at least rock-like jazz, and migrated away to the shores of progressive rock, (progressive rock must have a shore by the way. What else would it have?) And, we have wandered down the cliffs of the singer/songwriters as well as the nervous heights of those heavy metal gods of the falcetto.

So now what do we do?

We’re going to get colorful once more here at WMMCM. Yes, for the next three days, weeks or months, we will be adventuring off into the land of color. And not just any color. You see other folks would content themselves with green or yellow. I love green by the way. Green is a great color for trees, the lower half of flowers and grass. Green’s impact on rock music however leave much to be desired. Yellow isn’t much better. Other than Donovan’s “Mellow Yellow” from way back in the late 60′s, yellow has pretty much been a bust as far as rock goes.

Blue is a great color that lent a helping hand to the start of rock n’ roll but, we’ve travelled that road before. We may again but, not right now. With purple well, you get either the Queen of England or Prince. (Not the Prince as in Charles or Harry. Prince – as in the Purple One from Minnesota – “Purple Rain” and all that. Charles certainly would be a downer as far as anything relating to rock n’ roll goes and Harry so far has only worked his way up to the tambourine on the London Olympics theme song, therefore, I’m not hopeful for a guitar solo anytime soon.)

Brown is just not a rockin’ color even though Van Morrison had good luck with it. Black is too easy. Orange would just be strange and other than Pink Floyd, pink just isn’t very cool as rock goes. Without getting into blends any further than that, that leaves us with a very cool color that is actually the hottest color of them all.

That would be 빨강, Crven, Kokino, Czerwony, लाल, Krasniy, Rød, Amhar, Rood, Ruah, Aka, Chervoniy, Rosso, červený, Rouge, Rojo, 红色, Rooi, црвено, Coch, đỏ, Laal, Vermelho,  赤い, КРАСНЫЙ, Rot and of course, Red.

As you can see red is quite the versatile little color isn’t it? The color that could in a way. Red is flashy and powerful, it evokes fire, flames and energy and red is definitely sexy when it wants to be. You can’t say that about, oh,  fuchsia. Fuchsia may have red in it but certainly not enough. Would the aforementioned Prince – the one from Minnesota – have written a song called Little Fuchsia Corvette? Something tells me no…

So, kicking off our latest obsession which we shall now call Roter käse, or Red Cheese, in honor of Tank, my head banging hound, it’s time to call in help from above.

Red Shoes of The Angels E-Mail Link!

Kicking off our Roter käse obsession of the moment, shoes seems to be the thing to do it with as well as Elvis Costello who back in those days specialized in both being the kicker and the kickee.

Costello had been kicking around – sorry – the London music scene since the early 70′s and by 1976 at the young age of 22, Costello finally had enough songs and nerve enough to finally get a chance to record some of his twisted quasi-punk anthems. Now this Elvis did come up right in the middle of the punk era in England but he was never quite really punk. Costello wasn’t really new wave either, or retro, or when you get down to it, Elvis Costello in 1976 and for many years to come was a musical anomaly.

There has never really been a category that fit quite right and one gets the feeling that Costello wouldn’t have had it any other way.

So, after some arm twisting and cajoling, the then 22 year old Elvis Costello made his way into Pathway Studios and recorded one of the most unusual albums anyone has ever recorded. And the most important part about all the unusual stuff? It’s actually a great album.

“(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes” is perhaps one of the more normal songs on Costello’s debut album, My Aim is True. But what passes for normal on Costello’s debut album is pretty far out there for what the rock n’ rollers and the punks were doing at the time.

“Oh I used to be disgusted

And now I try to be amused.

But since their wings have got rusted,

You know, the angels wanna wear my red shoes.

But when they told me ’bout their side of the bargain,

That’s when I knew that I could not refuse.

And I won’t get any older, now the angels wanna wear my red shoes.”

With his intentionally retro look and Buddy Holly glasses, Costello was making his own statement to the music world. He’s not a punk as in Johnny Rotton with a safety pin in his ear or nose depending and, he’s not a rock n’ roller. The suit and glasses and the distinct lack of screaming guitars conceeds that. So, what exactly is Elvis Costello trying to be?

The only answer that is honest, over his now nearly fourty year career is, Elvis Costello.

From the moment Costello arrived on the scene in the summer of 1977, he has done only and exactly what he has wanted to do. For better or worse, Costello is a guy who knew from the very start of his career who he was. In all those years, he’s gone from quasi-punk and not quite new wave to country, blues, pop, nearly-mainstream rock and more than a few other places and yet still he has always been Elvis Costello with the glasses and the odd stage manner and emotive muffled singing style.

He’s also always had a brillent way with words. He can cut you to the bone with a deeply twisted love song or baffle you with thoughts that are more than a little misoganistic and still come out as a good guy. (Not someone a women might like to date mind you but, there’s a charm that’s always been there that allows you to forgive some of the more egregious episodes of disrepect in his lyrics.)

“Oh, I know that she’s disgusted. (Oh why’s that)

‘Cause she’s feeling so abused. (Oh that’s too bad)

She gets tired of the lust, (Oh I’m so sad)

But it’s so hard to refuse. Can you say that I’m too old,

When the angels have stolen my red shoes?”

And, who has ever sounded like this?

For thirty-five years, there has never been a more difficult to decifer artist who has covered more ground musically that most collections of 70′s and 80′s bands could have ever imagined; all the while agravating, anoying and infuriating listeners, fans and critics while they still sing his praises.

Red is a good color for Elvis Costello.

About Pete

Pete is a professional-musician-with-a-day-job based in California's Inland Empire, as well as a veteran sound engineer in the studio and for live shows. He's been a lover of classic rock since back when it was known as "rock" and has in more recent years developed a country habit as well.
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