Elvis Costello / Four Eyed Monster 1977 - 1989


1977 - 1980


1. Less Than Zero (Single A Side March 1977)

2. Radio Sweetheart (Single B Side March 1977)

3. Alison (Single A Side May 1977)

4. (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes (Single A Side July 1977)

5. Welcome To The Working Week (My Aim Is True LP July 1977)

6. No Dancing (My Aim Is True LP July 1977)

7. Mystery Dance (My Aim Is True LP July 1977)

8. Waiting For The End Of The World (My Aim Is True LP July 1977)

9. Watching The Detectives (Single A Side October 1977)

10. (I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea (Single A Side March 1978)

11. You Belong To Me (This Year’s Model LP March 1978)

12. No Action (This Year’s Model LP March 1978)

13. Pump It Up (This Year’s Model LP March 1978)

14. Lipstick Vogue (This Year’s Model LP March 1978)

15. Big Tears (Single B Side July 1978)

16. (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding (B Side September 1978)

17. Radio Radio (Single A Side October 1978)

18. Tiny Steps (Single B Side October 1978)  

19. Accidents Will Happen (Armed Forces LP January 1979)

20. Senior Service (Armed Forces LP January 1979)

21. Oliver’s Army (Armed Forces LP January 1979)

22. Green Shirt (Armed Forces LP January 1979)

23. Two Little Hitler’s (Armed Forces LP January 1979)

24. I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down (Single A Side February 1980)

25. Girl’s Talk (Single B Side February 1980)

26. King Horse (Get Happy LP February 1980)

27. New Amsterdam (Get Happy LP February 1980)

28. High Fidelity (Get Happy LP February 1980)

29. Temptation (Get Happy LP February 1980)


1980 - 1989


1. Clubland (Single A Side December 1980)

2. You’ll Never Be A Man (Trust LP January 1981)

3. Watch Your Step (Trust LP January 1981)

4. New Lace Sleeves (Trust LP January 1981)

5. White Knuckles (Trust LP January 1981)

6. Good Year For The Roses (Almost Blue LP October 1981)

7. Man Out Of Time (Imperial Bedroom LP July 1982)

8. Beyond Belief (Imperial Bedroom LP July 1982)

9. Almost Blue (Imperial Bedroom LP July 1982)

10. Human Hands (Imperial Bedroom LP July 1982)

11. Pills & Soap (Single A Side May 1983)

12. Let Them All Talk (Punch The Clock LP July 1983)

13. Everyday I Write The Book (Punch The Clock LP July 1983)

14. Shipbuilding (Punch The Clock LP July 1983)

15. Worthless Thing (Goodbye Cruel World LP June 1984)

16. Brilliant Mistake (King Of America LP February 1986)

17. Indoor Fireworks (King Of America LP February 1986)

18. Tokyo Storm Warning (Blood And Chocolate September 1986)

19. I Want You (Blood And Chocolate September 1986)

20. Poor Napoleon (Blood And Chocolate September 1986)

21. Veronica (Spike LP February 1989)


   Starting out as a punky pop four eyed geek, a mutant hybrid of Buddy Holly and Joe Strummer putting the world to rights, Elvis Costello’s first records were fantastic. He had the seething contempt of punk but with an intelligence and melodic sense that in 1977 was a rarity. While punks didn’t give a fuck, he was sensitive enough to not only give a fuck but to be pissed off and disturbed by that fuck.  

  He didn’t fit in and he knew it but soon found a far more natural home in New wave. Hooking up with The Attractions in all their poptastic glory made his life much easier, particularly with his ability to knock out scathing classics like ‘Watching The Detectives’, ‘(I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea’ and ‘Oliver’s Army’. But Elvis Costello was never one for sticking with any one image for too long so with that in mind, following the triumph of Armed Forces, he slyly began to reinvent himself.

   Initially there were the confusing ‘genre’ exercises; the cut price but admittedly great soul of Get Happy; the horrendous Nashville homage of Almost Blue and the confusing, Sergeant Pepper mimicking Imperial Bedroom. By this time the man’s schizoid, clever clever tendencies had really started to grate. In the mid eighties he even made futile attempts to change his identity. Kicking off with the ‘Pills & Soap’ single, he billed himself as The Imposter before reverting back to his real name of Declan McManus on King Of America, Napoleon Dynamite on Blood And Chocolate and finally The Beloved Entertainer on Spike.

   Those last few albums of the eighties also witnessed a definite downturn in his abilities. Full of the usual wit and detail but lacking in an awful lot more; memorable melodies for sure, focus possibly, and the old intensity definitely. And even though that’s where I left him, his nineties were no better as he became all grown up with long hair and a beard, dismissing contemporary pop in favour of classical music while romancing crumbly, irrelevant icons like Neil Young, La La McCartney, Tom Waits, Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash. For the first time it was possible to completely count him out as a relevant talent and he’s never come close to a return.

   On occasion I have thought that maybe I got it wrong and that Elvis Costello’s restlessness and constant yearning to move on were something to be admired. After all, he could claim quite rightly that he’s never made a dishonest record and not many have done that. But I have always sensed the ghost of his father, fifties bandleader Ross McManus, shadowing his every move, urging him on, to gain the respect of his peers, to make him proud.  I can think of no other reason for his numerous collaborations and brown nosing. Of course, the downside to all that is the original 1977 angry young man is now a boring, sycophantic old fart. I can’t help wondering what his 22 year old self would have made of it all.


April 2014