Elvis Costello and The Attractions – live at Winterland in San Francisco in 1978. As long as we’re on a “pivotal 70s” kick this weekend, I thought I would add the inimitable Elvis Costello to the mix.
Somebody once described him (early on) as ‘Buddy Holly on speed”. Admittedly, he really bore no resemblance to what had been going on musically in the states in the 1970s up until then. And it’s safe to add that much of Punk coming over here wasn’t met with open arms. That’s not to say it was universally rejected; far from it. It’s just that Punk wasn’t embraced by the Mainstream – in fact, it was openly hated.
My personal recollection of this disdain came early on, when I arrived home from a trip to London with a box of Anarchy In The UK singles via EMI tucked under my arm. I excitedly handed a copy of this epic Sex Pistols tome to a friend who was a disc jockey at a well-known Rock station in L.A. – my excitement quickly got traded in for perplexity as my friend snapped his copy of Anarchy in half and loudly said “that’s the biggest bunch of shit I ever heard!”. Somehow, I sensed this was going to be an uphill endeavor.
And so, when Elvis Costello arrived on the scene, the American audience had already heard and seen The Sex Pistols and The Clash and pockets of American Punk enthusiasts were springing up around the country. But still, the mainstream wasn’t ready – and really wouldn’t be until the early 80s.
But that didn’t stop bands from coming over and preaching to the choir, whose numbers were increasing via word-of-mouth, small record stores and underground newspapers.
So by 1978, when this concert was held at the legendary Winterland, KSAN-FM, one of the bastions of Rock in San Francisco, aired it live – and Elvis Costello had arrived.
As a reminder, and a companion piece to The Damned documentary I ran earlier, here is Elvis Costello, as he was heard all over San Francisco on the night of June 7, 1978.