Thursday, December 09, 2010

Elvis Costello – Live at Hollywood High

Elvis hit Hollywood in 1979 promoting his first two albums and the upcoming release of his 3rd record, Armed Forces. Originally, 3 songs from this gig (“Accident Will Happen", “Alison”, “Watching the Detectives”) were included as a limited edition EP with the new album, but this CD is the first official release of the entire, terrific concert.

This shows the Attractions at the absolute height of their power – more together and rehearsed than the (also great) Live at El Macambo gig that also just came out – and is a fantastic document of this amazing band.

Opening with the then-new “Accidents Will Happen” as an acoustic piano ballad, the group blasts into the frantic “Mystery Dance” followed immediately by “Lip Service”. They finally take a breath long enough for Elvis to speak to the adoring crowd to introduce the (comparatively) sedate “Living in Paradise”. They give a nod to the upcoming release with “Goon Squad”, one of the best from that record, though missing the ominous backing vocals. Actually, the backing vocals are nearly missing throughout most of this recording – it sounds like someone is trying throughout, but that is the one problem with the otherwise fine mix.

Continuing with a pretty faithful rendition of “…Red Shoes”, they then do another new one, “Party Girl”. “(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea” is updated with some new keyboard sounds and an extended, moody instrumental middle section. This Year’s Model is represented by cool versions of “This Year’s Girl” and “No Action” and after this Elvis performs his country’n’western tune, “Stranger in the House”, that I don’t think he ever “officially” released, though Rachel Sweet did a great version on her debut.

A high energy take on “The Beat” (with a newly added guitar part) precedes the lovely “Alison”, which leads into a speedy “Lipstick Vogue”, highlighting the crazy talented Attractions. Some nice feedback introduces “Watching the Detectives”, with one of Elvis’ catchiest guitar riffs ever. Film noir put to music highly successfully!

The set closes frenetically with crazed versions of “You Belong to Me”, the fabulous “Radio, Radio” and the powerful “Pump It Up”. They come back for rockin’ takes of “Waiting for the End of the World” and a rousing “Miracle Man”.

Another excellent live release from the best Elvis Costello time period! Definitely pick it up!