From torontopublliclibrary.com: “Come meet the writers everyone’s reading. Seven branches across the city offer you the chance to meet a great Canadian writer. All events followed by book signings.
Launched in 2009 with funding from Canada Council for the Arts, The eh List is a premiere destination for lovers of Canadian literature, hosting award-winning authors and exciting new voices including Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Will Ferguson, Governor General’s Award Winner Nino Ricci, Trillium Book Award winner Camilla Gibb and RBC Taylor Prize Winner Plum Johnson in 2015.”
The eh List presents author Richard Crouse discussing his new biography, Elvis is King: Costello’s My Aim is True. Crouse delves into the story of the creation of the groundbreaking album, focusing on Costello’s musical upbringing, the recording of the legendary songs, and the marketing behind the music that would redefine youth culture. Book signing to follow.
Call to register; seating is limited: 416-395-5639
From 2paragraphs.com: “Author Richard Crouse, a Canadian film critic and culture vulture, smartly tells this tale of Costello’s beginnings — indeed he tells the tale of the invention of Elvis Costello the character. Another star of the book is Stiff Records, which was Dr. Frankenstein to Costello’s monster — and to his monster hits.”
My Aim Is True has the strongest single identity of any of the albums contained in the pantheon of Elvis Costello’s work. It is also the most iconic. So Richard Crouse’s look at both the record and the inchoate, pre-Attractions Costello is a welcome addition to any fan’s bookshelf.
Crouse followed his hero’s progress from afar – Liverpool, Nova Scotia, in fact – after identifying the bespectacled singer on the other side of the Atlantic as someone who was “making music that spoke to me”. Fortunately, his pocket-sized book (just 118 pages) is no hagiography and far more instructive than a song-by-song dissection of the record he got his older brother to bring home for him.
Costello’s early musical influences were as diverse as the records he would go on to make, from The Siamese Cat Song by Peggy Lee, which as a toddler he demanded that his mum play, through to The Beatles, The Supremes and Gram Parsons. He was only 16 when he got up to play in public for the first time in the crypt of a church in Richmond, and by all accounts it did not go well. However, a move from London to Liverpool saw him develop a taste for American country-flavoured rock and the kind of groups that were inspiring groups to venture out into pub back rooms. He and his friends followed suit.
This scene-setting is vital as it explains why, as punk was frothing at the mouth, an agitating young singer was recording a country-tinged album with a Californian bar band. At this point The Attractions hadn’t been hired, and it was with Clover that he recorded his debut at Pathway Studios.
There is, rightly, much emphasis on Dave Robinson and Jake Riviera’s maverick label Stiff Records, in whose scruffy offices the transformation from computer-operating geek to cool new waver began. It was Stiff’s keen understanding of promotion and marketing stunts that helped launch such a difficult-to-market artist. His arrest for busking outside the Hilton Hotel in London where CBS executives were holding a conference resulted to him being signed and MAIT being released in the US.
Fan or not, he doesn’t shy away from aspects of the Costello’s early career that some found off-putting. The labelling of some of Costello’s anti-romance songs as misogynist is, says Crouse, “a fair charge”, while the abrasiveness he cultivated on-stage and press interviews is chronicled in a chapter headed Prince Charmless. On stage he could be no less prickly. “I see we’ve got some cunts in the audience tonight,” he snarled during the Stiff tour of 1977 on which he deliberately played songs no one knew.
There are no original interviews with Costello or any of the musicians involved in MAIT, Crouse instead getting the thoughts of a host of other writers. Nor are there any images in this latest in the pop classics series. But fans will find plenty to feast on in a book that documents a seminal record and the arrival of one of the most gifted songwriters of his generation.
From Small Press Reviews: “Word on the street is that Elvis Costello has a memoir due in October. For those who can’t wait, there’s Richard Crouse’s Elvis Is King: Costello’s My Aim Is True, a meticulously researched account of Costello’s early years and the release of his first LP with independent label Stiff Records…” Read the whole thing HERE!
From The Bookend Family: “Mr. Crouse makes the details come alive, with stories about the size of the stories and the size of the performer’s egos. All in all it’s an intimate and scrappy love-note about how and when an artist found his voice and started his career. Elvis Is King makes the case that My Aim Is True was a truly rare phenomenon, and an album that was absolutely the right sound at the right time. This book is not that, but it’s pretty darn close…”
Richard spoke about his new book “Elvis is King: Costello’s My Aim is True” on NewsTalk 1010’s “In the Studio” on Saturday May 23, 2015 with hosts Bob redid and Blair Packham.
In The Studio airs every Saturday night at 8pm and Sunday night from 10pm with Bob Reid and Blair Packham (acclaimed singer-songwriter, producer, music educator and former leader of The Jitters), bringing you a wide variety of guests from all aspects of the world of music.