I remember the first time I heard an Elvis Costello single. I was driving somewhere and had KROQ on – announced as “a new single by Elvis Costello”, Watching The Detectives came on. I was so distracted by the sound coming out of my radio that I had to pull over and just listen to what was being played. I remember pointing my finger at the radio and saying, “THAT’S the one!”, I knew the second British invasion had arrived. For the previous couple of years, I had the feeling there were major events taking place musically in the UK. The previous year, 1976 I was in London and came home with a box of promo 45’s of Anarchy In The UK (one copy was broken on the air by a disgruntled disc jockey) and a pile of singles and eps. The prize of the haul, to me, was New Rose by The Damned. This was extremely exciting stuff, with energy flying off the grooves and a searing message. It was fantastic, but would it be greeted with the same enthusiasm in the U.S. that it had in the UK? I wondered and quickly found my answer: no. Not for another year. Not until Elvis Costello came along and not until the FM underground started playing Watching The Detectives on a regular basis. I think, more than the Sex Pistols tour of the U.S., the initial Elvis Costello tours were greeted with a great amount of enthusiasm. His popularity, his razor-sharp song-writing abilities grabbed a wide-ranging audience. This was the ingredient that was needed to create mass appeal, and Elvis Costello was the perfect candidate.
This concert, I believe is from the second U.S. tour. One of things UK bands came away from the mid/early 70s with was the well-founded notion that the only way you’re going to crack the US is by touring mercilessly. It worked with ELO, who spent an unholy amount of time criss-crossing the U.S. in the early 1970s – and it was going to work again for Elvis Costello.
If you missed that period, and it was very exciting if you were plugged into it, take a bit to check this concert out. Because it was live and broadcast by KADI-FM in St. Louis, there’s a few chatty spots, but not nearly as bad as the Italian Radio concerts.
This is one to enjoy. Crank it up and dive in.