Elvis Costello and The Attractions – In session for John Peel – July 5, 1977 – broadcast August 1st – BBC Radio 1 –
Elvis Costello and The Attractions in their first appearance for John Peel, recorded on July 5, 1977 and broadcast on August 1st.
Costello began his career as part of London’s pub rock scene in the early 1970s and later became associated with the first wave of the British punk and new wave movement that emerged in the mid-to-late 1970s. His critically acclaimed debut album My Aim Is True was released in 1977. Shortly after recording it, he formed the Attractions as his backing band. His second album This Year’s Model was released in 1978, and was ranked number 11 by Rolling Stone on its list of the best albums from 1967 to 1987. His third album Armed Forces was released in 1979, and features his highest-charting single, “Oliver’s Army” (number 2 in the UK). His first three albums all appeared on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Costello and the Attractions toured and recorded together for the better part of a decade, though differences between them caused a split by 1986. Much of Costello’s work since has been as a solo artist, though reunions with members of the Attractions have been credited to the group over the years. Costello’s lyrics employ a wide vocabulary and frequent wordplay. His music has drawn on many diverse genres; one critic described him as a “pop encyclopaedia”, able to “reinvent the past in his own image”.
On 17 December 1977, Costello and the Attractions, as a replacement act for the Sex Pistols, were scheduled to play “Less Than Zero” on Saturday Night Live; however, in imitation of a rebellious act by Jimi Hendrix on a BBC show, Costello stopped the song mid-intro, yelling “Stop! Stop!” to his band, and played “Radio Radio” instead – a song that criticizes the commercialization of the airwaves, which NBC and Lorne Michaels had forbidden them to play. Costello was subsequently banned from the show (the ban was lifted in 1989) and he received considerable attention as an angry young man. His insistence on performing “Radio Radio” on SNL proved a boon to his debut album, and its popularity exploded in the U.S. after the performance.
For a reminder, here’s their first session for Peel, as it was heard on August 1st 1977.