Sunday, June 6, 2010

I'm just the oily slick on the windup world of the nervous tick

Elvis Costello has mentioned that he has always wanted to write a song with only one chord. But given his gift with melody and harmony he has always failed miserably. Both Imperial Bedroom and Blood and Chocolate kick off with songs in this vein, and both of them have enough chord changes to destroy his intention. In the first instance, Beyond Belief contains perhaps his most perfect wordplay. I will spare you any awkward analysis and instead embarrass myself by mentioning that I spent an entire Saturday long ago learning all the words so that I could sing along. Thanks to the amazing production work of Geoff Emerick that entire LP remains near the top of my desert island disks list. It was a one-off experiment in fancy studio trickery, never to be repeated in the EC & the Attractions canon. Still gives me goosebumps every time I hear it.


Holly A Hughes said...

Oh, yes. Oh, YES!

I underrated this LP sadly at the time, and yet in retrospect I know it is one of the high points in EC's remarkable career. Even now, when I hear "Beyond Belief" at first I'm not sure if it's from this album or from My Aim Is True -- that's how vital and quintessential its sound is.

Mister Pleasant said...

Same here Holly. I bought the album based on the Rolling Stone magazine review, listened a couple of times, then forgot about it until the mid 90's when I met the world's greatest EC fan (Gena - are you reading this?) Her insistent badgering forced me to give it another listen and suddenly I heard what I had missed. I am glad EC never revisited this ultra-produced style because it gives the LP a power it would otherwise lack.