Posts Tagged ‘My Aim is True’

elvis costello my aim is true

Released this day July 22nd in 1977: Elvis Costello – My Aim Is True

On My Aim Is True, Elvis Costello’s’ raw energy comes through in a way that’s never completely recaptured on later records. While the songs range from mellow country twang to full-on, spitting assault, there’s a strange cohesiveness to the album simply by virtue of its rough, rushed feel. Although it’s a studio album, there’s a latent energy to Nick Lowe’s production that grants My Aim Is True all the immediacy of a live show. Recorded at Pathway Studios in London 1976-1977.

Elvis Costello’s debut album brought home to me just how timid Little Criminals really is. Costello’s best songs are anything but timid, but they’re as intelligent as some of Newman’s finest, as endearingly elusive in their meanings, and funny in the same bitter, self-deprecating manner. They are also, like Newman’s signature songs, very weird. Originally released on Stiff Records but reissued on various labels, Columbia, Demon Rykodisc, Rhino Records and Hip O, Singles released from the album

  1. Less Than Zero
    Released: 22 March 1977
  2. Alison
    Released: 21 May 1977
  3. “(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes”
    Released: 1977
  4. Watching the Detectives
    Released: 14 October 1977

Elvis Costello dartboard (pic credit Dick Wingate)

According to Costello’s own website, a second version of the album (with an identical track listing) was recorded over a 2-day period in July 1977. This second version was recorded by Elvis Costello and his new permanent backing band, The Attractions, with the intention of replacing the original tracks contained in My Aim Is True once the initial pressings had sold out. This never came to pass, however, and all released versions of the album continue to use the original recordings with members of Clover as the backing band. As well, although several reissues of My Aim Is True have featured various demos and 1977-era recordings as bonus tracks, the July 1977 album re-recordings have never been issued in any format.

On 8 November 2007, Costello reunited with the members of Clover from the original recording sessions to perform the songs from My Aim Is True. This marked the first ever (and to date only) live public performances of these songs by the original ensemble that recorded them. The event took place at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, and was a benefit for the Richard de Lone Special Housing Fund,

If one record perfectly encapsulated the ethos of Stiff Records, it is My Aim Is True. Combining Barney Bubbles’ iconic designs, Jake Riviera’s ingenious marketing slogans, Stiff’s irreverence and a unique artist, it did what the major labels had failed to do for years. It acknowledged that music fans deserved better and tapped into Britain’s deep-rooted culture of buying and collecting records. The Stiff template had been created and the bar set high.

Photographer Chris Gabrin had produced the black and white shots that had adorned the sleeves of ‘Less Than Zero’ and ‘Alison‘. However, it was Keith Morris who was invited to do the shoot for the album under Barney Bubbles’ direction. Bubbles reportedly threw Elvis Presley-like shapes around the room as the other Elvis struck a variety of poses against a pale backdrop. A picture of awkwardness in a jacket, open-neck shirt and tie, turned-up jeans, and National Health glasses, Costello was a geek years before it was chic. A vibrant yellow screen was placed over him for the initial run of 10,000, ensuring it would stand out in the racks and window displays of record shops. Then, when the album began to catch fire, Stiff made a discovery that would result in a collector’s dream. Riviera had gone with Bubbles to oversee the first run and found out that using different coloured inks wouldn’t cost more. He then demanded that every run of 5,000 copies be printed in a different colour.

Costello poster

Elvis Costello and his band The Attractions Peel Session recorded 25th July 1977 on BBC 1 Radio, The songs are “Red Shoes”, “Less Than Zero”, “Mystery Dance” and finally “Blame It On Cain” My Aim Is True is such a great record the Attraction really bring the songs to life with Steve Nieve amazing organ playing.


A true classic and a landmark album released on the 22nd July 1977 Costello’s debut album has been listed as one of the best debut of all time. recorded at Pathway studios in Islington late at night sessions taking approximately 24 hours to record it was also the first of five consecutive albums produced by Nick Lowe. Costello had been performing his songs in clubs and pubs in liverpool he had cut some demos and sent them to various labels with no success, He had been asked by Stiff Records to record some demos for the possibility of being a songwriter for Dave Edmunds but Edmunds was reluctant, Costello at this time was still working his day job as a data clerk, The label had Costello and the band Clover record to show his songs off but decided to release the songs as his first album, the first two singles had done very little and Costello was still working at his day job when the album was released in July 1977,
He was asked to give up his job they would match his wages gave him an amp and a tape recorder and he became a professional musician. the iconic cover shot which became Elvis’s trademark look with the Buddy Holly glasses and bent knee. The album was re-recorded with the same songs and arrangements with Elvis’s permanent backing band The Attractions at a later date that summer the idea was to replace the original recording with the Clover version and the initial pressings had sold out but this never happened, Costello and Clover played together for a one off benefit in November 2007 in San Francisco. There have been several re-issues with added tracks but the Costello/Attractions version has never been released. The standout tracks of “Less Than Zero, Alison, Red Shoes and Watching The Detectives.