Dai Griffiths [+]
Oxford Brookes University
It’s likely that, as an icon of pop music, Elvis Costello still looks like the cover of This Year’s Model (1978) and, were he run over by a bus, it’s ‘Oliver’s Army’ (1979) that would be played in surprised and sombre tribute. Here to stay, and recognized by Burt Bacharach as ‘a great survivor’, Costello has produced a large and significant body of work. This is the first book on Costello that sets out to avoid chronological presentation, preferring a thematic approach focused on music and words over the nearly thirty years that separate ‘Radio Sweetheart’ and ‘Country Darkness’. In addition to engaging with the songs Costello has performed as a rock musician, the book will include informed discussion of more recent albums such as Painted from Memory, North, and Il Sogno . There is also discussion of essays Costello has written to support CD reissues of his recordings, a substantial body of writing approaching a critical autobiography. The book may contradict expectation, arguing that on all fronts – music, words, voice, instrumental resource - Costello’s work broadens and deepens, as he sets himself the task of expanding the range of expressive material available.