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Elvis Costello Reissues
My Aim Is True
This Year's Model
Armed Forces
Get Happy!!
Trust
Almost Blue
Imperial Bedroom
Punch The Clock
Goodbye Cruel World
King Of America
Blood & Chocolate
Spike
Mighty Like A Rose
The Juliet Letters
Brutal Youth
All This Useless Beauty

Painted From Memory
When I Was Cruel
North
The Delivery Man
The River In Reverse
Momofuku


My Aim Is True
MY AIM IS TRUE
Original album released 1977

Rykodisc version released 1993
Rhino version released 2001
Hip-O version released 2007

(Click on links above for desired tracklist.)

DISC 1 (63:41)
My Aim Is True:
  1. Welcome To The Working Week (1:23)
  2. Miracle Man (3:31)
  3. No Dancing (2:40)
  4. Blame It On Cain (2:50)
  5. Alison (3:23)
  6. Sneaky Feelings (2:09)
  7. (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes (2:46)
  8. Less Than Zero (3:14)
  9. Mystery Dance (1:36)
  10. Pay It Back (2:32)
  11. I'm Not Angry (2:59)
  12. Waiting For The End Of The World (3:22)
  13. Watching The Detectives (3:45)
The Outtakes:
  1. No Action (early version) (2:14)
  2. Living In Paradise (early version) (2:59)
  3. Radio Sweetheart (2:30)
  4. Stranger In The House (3:01)
The Pathway Studios Demos:
  1. Welcome To The Working Week (1:24)
  2. Blue Minute (1:33)
  3. Miracle Man (2:22)
  4. Waiting For The End Of The World (2:28)
  5. Call On Me (1:58)
  6. (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes (2:06)
  7. I Don't Want To Go Home (1:45)
  8. I Hear A Melody (2:10)
DISC 2 (69:56)
Live at the Nashville Rooms, August 7, 1977:
  1. Introduction by Dave Robinson (0:26)
  2. Welcome To The Working Week (1:18)
  3. Blame It On Cain (2:53)
  4. No Dancing (2:57)
  5. Waiting For The End Of The World (3:54)
  6. Night Rally (2:34)
  7. Hoover Factory (2:01)
  8. No Action (2:31)
  9. (I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea (3:03)
  10. Miracle Man (3:53)
  11. The Beat (3:46)
  12. Less Than Zero (3:27)
  13. (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes (2:57)
  14. Lipstick Vogue (3:59)
  15. Watching The Detectives (4:23)
  16. Lip Service (4:31)
  17. Mystery Dance (3:34)
  18. Alison (3:32)
Live at the Nashville Rooms - soundcheck, August 7, 1977:
  1. Pay It Back (2:23)
  2. Radio Sweetheart (2:56)
  3. Sneaky Feelings (2:16)
  4. Crawling To The USA (2:59)
  5. Alison (3:25)
Elvis Costello's debut album My Aim Is True has had three major CD reissues.

Rykodisc's 1993 CD (released by Demon in the UK) had nine bonus tracks, a fairly generous number for its time. Seven of them were previously unreleased, although they had all long been available on bootlegs.

Rhino's 2001 two-disc version (released by Edsel in the UK) was probably the least interesting of the 17 Costello albums reissued by the label. After repeating the nine tracks from the Ryko CD (substituting an alternate mix for "Radio Sweetheart"), it added just four more songs, only two of them unreleased. "A Pekingese in a tuxedo could sell you My Aim Is True," Elvis told Billboard at the time, apparently explaining that such a highly regarded album could lure plenty of purchasers without much in the way of bonuses. Nevertheless, the bonus disc painted a well-rounded portrait of Elvis Costello turning pro developing his songwriting skills (the Honky Tonk demos), already exploring genres outside of traditional rock & roll (Bacharach & David's "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself," the country-ish "Radio Sweetheart" and "Stranger In The House"), and hinting at where he would go next with early versions of two tracks from his next album and another two tracks featuring early performances with the Attractions.

Hip-O's 2007 two-disc "deluxe edition" told a narrower story but with far more detail. Only four of Rhino's bonus tracks were held over, but that left room for a whopping 26 unreleased tracks, including a complete 1977 concert. It was a promising start for a planned series of deluxe editions, but the series seems to have ended with its second release (This Year's Model). Perhaps poor sales were the unsurprising result of expanding an album for a third time only six years after the last reissue.

REISSUE BONUS TRACKS

NO ACTION (Early Version) (2:14) RHINO HIP-O
Elvis mentioned this outtake recorded at the same time as "Watching The Detectives" in the liner notes for the Ryko release, but at that time it was considered "lost." It was "found" and released for the first time on the Rhino CD.

LIVING IN PARADISE (Early Version) (2:59) RHINO HIP-O
This outtake from the My Aim Is True sessions is notable for lyrics which differ significantly from the version later released on This Year's Model. It was also mentioned as "lost" in the Ryko notes but released on the Rhino CD.

RADIO SWEETHEART (Single Mix) (2:30) RHINO HIP-O
RADIO SWEETHEART (Remix) (2:25) RYKO
This track from Elvis' first "professional" recording session was originally the B-side of "Less Than Zero." After appearing on the various artists collection Hits Greatest Stiffs, it was remixed prior to appearing on Taking Liberties and Ten Bloody Marys. The remix has fewer effects on the lead vocal in the opening verse and lacks the backing vocals during the line "hope in the eyes of the ugly girls." The remix was the standard version for many years, also appearing on the Ryko CD (where it fades in slightly late, making Taking Liberties or Ten Bloody Marys the preferred source). The original single mix made its CD debut on the Rhino My Aim Is True and subsequently appeared on 2003's Singles, Volume 1 and 2007's My Aim Is True Hip-O deluxe edition.

STRANGER IN THE HOUSE (3:01) RYKO RHINO HIP-O
This outtake from the My Aim Is True sessions was first issued on a bonus single included with initial copies of the This Year's Model LP in the UK and later included on Taking Liberties, Ten Bloody Marys, and the vinyl version of Girls + Girls = $ & Girls. Elvis would later re-record the song as a duet with George Jones. (See the Almost Blue page for details.)

I JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF (Live, Norwich, Oct. 18, 1977) (2:27) RHINO
This Burt Bacharach/Hal David cover from the 1978 various artists album Live Stiffs made its only appearance on a Costello album on Rhino's My Aim Is True. Two alternate mixes of this performance have also been released. They are detailed in the "Not On The Reissues (But Officially Released)" section below.

LESS THAN ZERO ("DALLAS VERSION") (Live, Toronto, Mar. 6, 1978) (4:17) RHINO
Although he allowed full-fledged reissues of the album Live At The El Mocambo from both Ryko and Hip-O, Elvis vetoed Rhino's plan to release it. This one-song excerpt was the album's only representation in Rhino's reissue program.

IMAGINATION (IS A POWERFUL DECEIVER) (3:36) RYKO RHINO
Although several other recordings by Elvis' mid-'70s band Flip City have been available on bootlegs for years, this is the only one so far to receive an official release, having appeared on both the Ryko and Rhino CDs. It was recorded in early 1975 at Hope & Anchor Studios in Islington. The bootlegs also include two very similar alternate versions of the song.

Honky Tonk Demos
MYSTERY DANCE (2:13) RYKO RHINO
CHEAP REWARD
(2:16) RYKO RHINO
JUMP UP
(2:06) RYKO RHINO
WAVE A WHITE FLAG
(1:57) RYKO RHINO
BLAME IT ON CAIN
(3:31) RYKO RHINO
POISON MOON
(1:53) RYKO RHINO
An early break for Elvis came August 15, 1976, when "Cheap Reward" and "Wave A White Flag" were aired on Charlie Gillett's Honky Tonk radio show. These home demos were recorded in late 1975 or early 1976 and have Elvis accompanying himself on guitar. "Mystery Dance" includes an additional verse omitted from the studio recording. "Cheap Reward" and "Poison Moon" include lyrics which later turned up in "Lip Service" and "Party Girl," respectively. All six songs circulated for years on bootlegs prior to their first official release on the Ryko CD. The Rhino version of "Wave A White Flag" includes a very brief guitar intro not on the Ryko release. Hip-O has yet to reissue these songs.

Pathway Studios Demos
WELCOME TO THE WORKING WEEK (1:24) HIP-O
BLUE MINUTE
(1:33) HIP-O
MIRACLE MAN (2:22) HIP-O
WAITING FOR THE END OF THE WORLD (2:28) HIP-O
CALL ON ME (1:58) HIP-O
(THE ANGELS WANNA WEAR MY) RED SHOES (2:06) HIP-O
I DON'T WANT TO GO HOME (1:45) HIP-O
I HEAR A MELODY (2:10) HIP-O
The eight Pathway Studios demos were recorded in late 1976 and have Elvis accompanying himself on guitar. Especially notable are the four previously unreleased Costello originals. Three of them "Blue Minute," "Call On Me," and "I Hear A Melody" had already circulated among collectors in recent years (and Elvis had played "I Hear A Melody" in concert in 2005 and "Blue Minute" in 2006), but "I Don't Want To Go Home" was entirely unheard. "Call On Me" includes bits of the "Moods For Moderns" melody and some lyrics from both that song and "Lipstick Vogue." "I Hear A Melody" was described by Elvis as written in 1975 and based on Van Morrison's "You're My Woman." As for the more familiar songs, "Miracle Man" has a mostly different final verse. All of the above were released for the first time on the Hip-O CD with the exception of "Welcome To The Working Week," which first appeared four months earlier on the Rock And Roll Music compilation in a different mix. (See the "Not On The Reissues (But Officially Released)" section below.)


Live at the Nashville Rooms, London, Aug. 7, 1977
INTRODUCTION BY DAVE ROBINSON (0:26) HIP-O
WELCOME TO THE WORKING WEEK (1:18) HIP-O
BLAME IT ON CAIN (2:53) HIP-O
NO DANCING (2:57) HIP-O
WAITING FOR THE END OF THE WORLD (3:54) HIP-O
NIGHT RALLY (2:34) HIP-O
HOOVER FACTORY (2:01) HIP-O
NO ACTION (2:31) HIP-O
(I DON'T WANT TO GO TO) CHELSEA (3:03) HIP-O
MIRACLE MAN (3:53) HIP-O
THE BEAT (3:46) HIP-O
LESS THAN ZERO (3:27) HIP-O
(THE ANGELS WANNA WEAR MY) RED SHOES (2:57) HIP-O
LIPSTICK VOGUE (3:59) HIP-O
WATCHING THE DETECTIVES (4:23) HIP-O
LIP SERVICE (4:31) HIP-O
MYSTERY DANCE (3:34) HIP-O
ALISON (3:32) HIP-O
Disc 2 of Hip-O's deluxe My Aim Is True includes the complete set from this very early concert by Elvis Costello and the Attractions. "Hoover Factory" is performed by Elvis solo after Bruce Thomas breaks a string. Most of the show was previously unreleased, but three tracks were early B-sides "Blame It On Cain" and "Mystery Dance" had appeared together on the B-side of the UK "Watching The Detectives," while "Miracle Man" was the B-side of "Alison" in the US and had made their CD debut on the Singles, Volume 1 box set in 2003. (Hip-O's My Aim Is True track notes erroneously state that all three appeared on the original "Watching The Detectives" single. The confusion probably derives from the Singles, Volume 1 sequencing.)

PAY IT BACK (Soundcheck) (2:23) HIP-O
RADIO SWEETHEART
(Soundcheck) (2:56) HIP-O
SNEAKY FEELINGS
(Soundcheck) (2:16) HIP-O
CRAWLING TO THE USA
(Soundcheck) (2:59) HIP-O
ALISON
(Soundcheck) (3:25) HIP-O
As if a complete concert weren't enough, Hip-O's My Aim Is True concludes with five songs from the show's soundcheck, four of them not played during the show itself, and all previously unreleased. When combined with the main concert, the CD includes live versions of every song from My Aim Is True except "I'm Not Angry." "Crawling To The USA," which has some different lyrics, is erroneously listed as "Crawling In The USA."

NOT ON THE REISSUES (BUT OFFICIALLY RELEASED)

"Less Than Zero" single mix sample:

"Less Than Zero" album mix sample:
LESS THAN ZERO (Single Mix)
    [A-side of Stiff BUY 11]
The original single mix of "Less Than Zero" is most notable for including a prominent organ part during the opening bars which is absent from the album version. It has never appeared on CD, not even on 2003's Singles, Volume 1, which used the familiar album mix, possibly by mistake. (The 1981 reissue of the vinyl single also substituted the album mix. Copies with the original mix have LYN-7473 etched in the runoff groove.) Some sources indicate that a third mix of "Less Than Zero" can be found on the 1977 various artists LP A Bunch Of Stiff Records, but to my ears it is identical to the single.

ALISON (US Version)
    [A-side of Columbia 3-10641]
"Alison" was subjected to additional overdubs (including synth-strings and background vocals) and remixing prior to its release as a US single in an apparent effort to give it a more commercial sound. When asked about its omission from the Rhino reissue program, Elvis responded, "I don't think we need to inflict it on the listeners a second time." Nevertheless, it eventually made its CD debut on Singles, Volume 1 as a hidden bonus track.

"Watching The Detectives" single mix sample:

"Watching The Detectives" remix sample:
WATCHING THE DETECTIVES (Single Mix)
    [A-side of Stiff BUY 20]
Although the differences are unlikely to be noticed without headphones, the version of "Watching The Detectives" which appears on most CD releases is not the original single mix. The original mix has narrower stereo separation, while the remix adds an extraneous hissing noise at 3:18 which did not appear on the original mix for good reason! The remix was probably prepared for 1980's Ten Bloody Marys compilation and has gradually become the standard version, appearing on the Ryko, Rhino, and Hip-O My Aim Is True CDs. The original mix can, however, be found on the 1985 Columbia CD The Best of Elvis Costello and the Attractions, and it can reportedly be found on copies of the Columbia My Aim Is True with the matrix number DIDP 20091 41A6. (Thanks to Zarank.)

WATCHING THE DETECTIVES (A Demo Version)
    [NME Pogo A Go Go cassette by various artists]
Inexplicably labeled a demo, this tentative performance actually comes from an August 2, 1977 concert at Eric's in Liverpool recorded for UK TV's So It Goes. In light of its negligible musical value, the mystery is not so much why it has yet to appear as reissue bonus material as why it was released in the first place. The DVD The Right Spectacle: The Very Best Of Elvis Costello The Videos includes two songs ("No Dancing" and "Lip Service") from the Eric's performance but not "Watching The Detectives."

I JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF (Live, Norwich, Oct. 18, 1977) (Alternate Mix 1)
    [Live Stiffs album by various artists]
I JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF (Live, Norwich, Oct. 18, 1977) (Alternate Mix 2)
    [The Stiff Records Box Set album by various artists]
Although they all seem to derive from the same basic performance, "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself" exists in three unique mixes. The version on the Live Stiffs LP and CD includes much more reverb on the vocals than can be found on The Stiff Records Box Set or Rhino's My Aim Is True. All three versions have very slight variations in the lyrics. Both The Stiff Records Box Set and My Aim Is True begin with Elvis singing, "Just don't know what to do with myself, just don't know what to do with myself," while Live Stiffs has him singing, "I just don't know what to do with myself, I just don't know what to do with myself." Toward the end of the song, The Stiff Records Box Set has him singing, "don't know what else to do," while Live Stiffs and My Aim is True have "I don't know what else to do." Also, the "oh oh oh" at the end has Elvis holding the final "oh" longer on Live Stiffs and My Aim Is True than on The Stiff Records Box Set. Obviously one or more of these mixes must incorporate some overdubbed vocals. In fact, there is a hint of a double-tracked vocal on the line "needs the sun and rain" on My Aim Is True. It should also be noted that the Live Stiffs CD runs at a slightly slower speed than the Live Stiffs LP. (Reports of a fourth mix on the UK compilation The Love Songs Of Burt Bacharach are incorrect. That CD uses the Live Stiffs mix.)

MIRACLE MAN (Live, Leicester, Oct. 22, 1977)
    [Live Stiffs album by various artists]
Unlike "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself" from the same album, this has yet to appear on a Costello album. While traditionally identified as from Leicester, the officially released track sounds very different from the raw recording of the concert, which circulates in excellent quality. If the performance is correctly identified, then the song must have gone through extensive postproduction, including a complete re-recording of Elvis' vocal and some instrumental overdubs. It is also possible Live Stiffs is a composite of multiple performances or from another performance entirely.

WELCOME TO THE WORKING WEEK (Pathway Studios Demo) (Alternate Mix)
    [Rock And Roll Music album]
An alternate mix of this track with narrower stereo separation was released in May 2007 on the compilation Rock And Roll Music as a preview of the deluxe My Aim Is True, to be released four months later.

NOT ON THE REISSUES (UNRELEASED & UNRECORDED)

Flip City studio recordings, 1974-1975
BASEBALL HEROES
RADIO SOUL
EXILES ROAD
Flip City's first studio recordings were made at the BBC's Maida Vale Studios in the summer of 1974. All are unreleased Costello originals. The Flip City website notes that "Baseball Heroes" "later became, via about three re-writes, 'Miracle Man,'" but it should be stressed that all traces of "Baseball Heroes" were gone by the time "Miracle Man" was recorded for My Aim Is True. (An audience recording of Flip City performing "Miracle Man" in concert in 1975 provides the missing link.) "Radio Soul" is an early version of "Radio, Radio," with Elvis exhibiting a more positive attitude toward the medium. This "Radio Soul" has a noticeably different arrangement Costello biographer Graeme Thomson describes it as having "a laid-back, good-time, West-Coast feel" from Flip City's later re-recordings. "Exiles Road" would also be re-recorded by Flip City. This is the slower version.

RADIO SOUL
PAY IT BACK
The second Flip City session in early 1975 at Hope & Anchor Studios in Islington is the source of the officially released "Imagination (Is A Powerful Deceiver)." (Two similar alternate takes can be found on bootlegs.) "Radio Soul" was also re-recorded in a faster arrangement. Two takes one without background vocals and one with apparently from this session have appeared on bootlegs since the 1970s. An alternate mix circulates of the version with background vocals, lacking the scream after the line "it really really hurts." "Pay It Back" is closer to the My Aim Is True version than might be expected, but it has a few lyric variations and improbable saxophone accompaniment.

THIRD RATE ROMANCE
KNOCKIN' ON HEAVEN'S DOOR
PACKIN' UP
PLEASE MISTER, DON'T STOP THE BAND
EXILES ROAD
WRECK ON THE SLIDE
ON THE ROAD
YOU WIN AGAIN
SWEET REVIVAL
Flip City's third recording session again in 1975 at Hope & Anchor Studios added covers to their studio repertoire in a bid to be more representative of their live set. Of the two versions of Russell Smith's "Third Rate Romance" available, the one without piano is probably the version from this session. "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" has Elvis singing the revised lyrics from Bob Dylan's Before The Flood live album rather than his original studio recording. Two versions of Chris Kenner's "Packin' Up" are available one without background vocals (and including a couple of false starts) and one with. "You Win Again" is based on the Grateful Dead's version of the Hank Williams song. "Exiles Road" is a faster version of the Costello original attempted at Flip City's first session. "Please Mister, Don't Stop The Band," "Wreck On The Slide," and "Sweet Revival" are unreleased Costello originals as well, although "Wreck On The Slide" includes one line later used in "Welcome To The Working Week." "On The Road" was written and sung by Flip City guitarist Steve Hazlehurst. There are conflicting reports about its recording date: The Flip City website describes it as part of this session, while Costello biographer Graeme Thomson has it as part of Flip City's first session at Maida Vale.

THIRD RATE ROMANCE
LIVING IN PARADISE
Flip City returned to Hope & Anchor Studios later in 1975 to re-record "Third Rate Romance" at the invitation of Dave Robinson, who hoped to release it on a record label he did not yet have. He would eventually co-found Stiff Records, but that was after plans to release "Third Rate Romance" had been abandoned. The version of "Third Rate Romance" recorded at this session is probably the one with piano. "Living In Paradise," similar to the My Aim Is True outtake but with a few lyric variations, has been tentatively placed here, but it is unclear when it was recorded. The Flip City website strangely does not mention it at all.

RADIO SWEETHEART (Demo)
LIVING IN PARADISE (Demo)
RADIO SOUL (Demo)
Apparently some collectors have these, but I have never heard them. Reportedly similar in sound and recording date to the Honky Tonk demos from late 1975 or early 1976, they are described in Richard Groothuizen and Kees den Heyer's book Going Through The Motions (Elvis Costello - 1982/1985) as coming from a 15-song demo tape which also included the six familiar Honky Tonk demos and six other unidentified songs.

I CAN'T TURN IT OFF (Demo)
JUST LIKE A JUKEBOX
Elvis introduced these songs in concert in 2007 as unreleased songs written in 1975. About 40 seconds of the demo for "I Can't Turn It Off" can be heard in the 2013 Costello documentary Mystery Dance but only in the longer 90-minute cut of the film. It is unknown whether a 1970s recording of "Just Like A Jukebox" exists. "I Can't Turn It Off" includes some lyrics later used in "Watch Your Step" and one line ("young girl rehearses all her blackmail faces") similar to a line in the much later "Sulky Girl" ("sulky girl, I saw you practising your blackmail faces"). "Just Like A Jukebox" includes lyrics recycled in "From A Whisper To A Scream."

ADDITIONAL NOTES

Although not treated as a bonus track above, "Watching The Detectives" was not part of the original My Aim Is True LP. The non-album UK single was added to the 1978 US release and has appeared on most CDs since 1993, including the Ryko, Rhino, and Hip-O CDs.

"Mystery Dance" on disc 1 of the Rhino and Hip-O CDs ends with a fadeout, as it did on the original LP. The Ryko version and the Girls + Girls = $ & Girls compilation favor a slight variation which ends with a cold stop.

Mono mixes of both "Alison" and "Watching The Detectives" were released as promo-only singles. An edited version of "Watching The Detectives" omitting the final verse was available on some promos and the 1985 "Less Than Zero" 12-inch single.

After the Ryko CD but before the Rhino and Hip-O CDs, a "20th anniversary edition" of My Aim Is True was considered in 1997. Elvis' remarks to interviewer Simon Grigg the following year suggest it would have included material similar to disc 1 of the Hip-O set:

"I came very close to releasing an album and a half or at least a good album's worth of material that came prior to My Aim Is True last year. And then I thought better of it, these being a bunch of tapes which I thought had been lost but came to light unexpectedly. I'm in two minds as to the quality of it. Some of it is incredibly precocious. I'm talking about stuff that goes right back to 1977 and even 1975 so whether or not anyone would be interested in it, I don't know. What I feel about it changes. I nearly released it, but the time wasn't right. This has never been bootlegged as it has been sitting in cupboards and not been seen by anybody until very, very recently. Some of it goes right up to crossing over with stuff which was released on my reissues. But some things which I noted as being missing like stuff recorded at the time of 'Watching The Detectives' has come to light too." (The full interview can be found in Beyond Belief #18/19.)

In 2004, Stiff Records co-founder Dave Robinson told MOJO magazine of some early Costello recordings: "I had about 36 of his songs. I recorded him one evening after a gig. I merely said to him, 'Have you got any songs?' after which I didn't get sleep for about a day and a half. I eventually sent them to him for his birthday and they became his first five or six records." It is unclear how much of this material is already available. At the very least, it likely includes the familiar Flip City recordings, most of which were recorded at Robinson's studio. The part about "his first five or six records" is almost certainly an exaggeration, although it could indicate that the tapes included some of the early songs later recorded as Get Happy!! B-sides or on Trust.


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