1984, Goodbye Cruel World sleevenote

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1984, Goodbye Cruel World sleevenote

Post by johnfoyle »

Thanks to mcramahamasham for posting this , along with all the other 'notes , in another thread here - I'm posting them individually for easier access.


In 1999 I was making a small cameo appearance in a movie called 200 Cigarettes. The story was set in 1980, and with the help of some clever lighting and a hat I was playing “myself”. The film was a comedy that did a pretty good job of catching the mood of those days between punk and the real onset of the dreadful ‘80s.
The cast contained many young actors, including Paul Rudd, Martha Plimpton, Chistina Ricci, Kate Hudson, Courtney Love, and even Casey Affleck and his brother, Ben. As some of the these people were only children during the period of the film, I was quite surprised that any of them had ever heard of me. In fact, one of the actors asked if I would sign an album that she had first bought when in college. She produced a dog-eared and much-played copy of this album, and I felt a little guilty that I had begun the liner note of a previous CD edition with the words:
“Congratulations! You’ve just bought our worst record!”
It seems I wasn’t exactly in a cheerful and optimistic mood when I made this album and that hadn’t really changed by the time the disc was first reissued. Now, with the benefit of a little more distance, I am able to say that it is probably the worst record that I could have made of a decent bunch of songs. I hope, for the sake of those who cared for it in the first place, that this edition will go some way to making them feel a little better about their purchase. That’s if any of them ever read this little note…
Although the title was meant with black humour, I used to quit about once a week in those days (I still do). My first marriage finally collapsed between the recording and the release of this album, so it is not hard to imagine where some of the desperation in the lyrics originated.
I’ve previously made much of the fact that I almost completely thwarted the efforts of my producers, Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, and it is true to say that they were probably ill-equipped for dealing with someone of my temperament at that time. A nurse with a large sedative syringe might have been more appropriate.
“Langer and Winstanley” are widely associated with a huge run of successful pop recordings throughout the 1980s, beginning with Madness and taking in Dexy’s Midnight Runners and our own Punch The Clock. They did develop certain techniques that defined their “sound”, but this is to ignore that London-born Clive is also a witty and talented composer (the music of “Shipbuilding” is entirely his), who had begun his career in the vibrant post-punk, art-school band scene in Liverpool and that Alan had engineered the early records of the might Buzzcocks, among many others.
Perhaps if I had confided in them more we might have shaped a sound that better suited my dark mood and the songs that it created. Instead the record became a battle to sustain some pace against my desire to make everything slow and mournful. It was also not exactly undesirable that we continue to address the larger audience that we had enjoyed with the success of Punch The Clock. So in the end we agreed to a truce. Clive and Alan would produce two selected songs to the height of style and I could make the rest of the record as miserable as possible. That might be a slight simplification of the proceedings, but I was trying to make the best of the pop music scene of the time.
Goodbye Cruel World was recorded in Trevor Horn’s SARM West Studios at the same time that Frankie Goes to Hollywood were recording “Two Tribes”. We managed to record an entire album in less time than they took to record their single (I think I even had time to go on tour, realize that I hated the album, and come back to England only to find they were still recording “Two Tribes”).
In fact Goodbye Cruel World was released right in the middle of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s nine-week run at No.1 in the U.K. charts with “Two Tribes”. One of those weeks we were scheduled to appear on Tops Of The Pops to perform our new single, “I Wanna Be Loved”. As the song ended, “a representative of the Elvis Costello Group” was testily summoned over a public address system.
Being the only barely responsible person on hand, I presented myself at the foot of the iron stairs to the production gantry above the studio floor. When the producer finally emerged, he attempted to give me a dressing down because Pete Thomas had ruined the illusion of live performance on an entirely mimed programme by playing the final drum fill of our song on his head, while in tight close-up. The fact that the drummer from the group Tight Fit had got up from his drums in the middle of “The Lion Sleep Tonight” and bent over so his bandmate could mime beat out a marimba solo on a keyboard design printed on the arse of his loincloth was completely lost on the apoplectic BBC stooge. If I had continued to argue that Frankie were miming to six months of accumulated recording, I believe he might have needed medical attention.
You might say that during this time The Attractions and I had a troubled and peculiar relationship with pop music. At Pathway and Eden Studios and in Holland for Get Happy and in Nashville for Almost Blue, we always worked behind closed doors. However from Imperial Bedroom onward we found ourselves working in multi-studio facilities, and there always seemed to be someone next door making a big pop hit.
While recording Imperial Bedroom, Paul McCartney was down the corridor making Tug Of War. When we returned to AIR to begin Punch The Clock, Paul was back making Pipes Of Peace (with Michael Jackson popping in for his guest vocals), with the Jam in the middle studio cutting “Precious”, and Alice Cooper mixing an album in another suite. You didn’t always become friends with the other artists, but you might nod to each other on the way to the coffee machine and start up a conversation. When Duran Duran had been at AIR, I remember Simon LeBon telling me, over a game of pool, that they were off to Sri Lanka the following morning to make a “video on a boat” and that he envisaged a time when they would make the films first and fit the music to them later. It is an idea that has surely found its time.
While mixing at Genetic Studios, outside London, we were adjacent to the Human League making Hysteria, the follow-up to Dare, and the previous year the Buzzcocks’ Pete Shelley making his solo album XL1. Boffins cluttered up the hallway, developing a primitive computer programme that was pressed onto the last track of the album. With my usual flawless powers of clairvoyance, I thought, That’ll never catch on.
You would think that this would have made me a little more competitive, but by the time we got to Goodbye Cruel World, I was way beyond worrying about such things. Unsurprisingly, my favourite album was Richard and Linda Thompson’s Shoot Out The Lights. I even toyed with the idea of asking Richard to play on the album, but the notion never got as far as making the call. I had thought we might open up “Joe Porterhouse” into something upon which Richard might fly into space in the manner of “The Calvary Cross”. The tight and sterile final version could not be further from that imagining.
The heart of the record that might have been lies in the songs “Home Truth”, “Love Field”, and “Inch By Inch” and in the idea of covering a lyric of such self-pity and despair as “I Wanna Be Loved”. These are the songs to which I have returned over the years. They contain a strange combination of guilt-stricken regret and erotic intrigue and were as true to my feelings as I could bring myself to be. All these songs can be found in raw demo (or live) form on CD2.
Having made much of the influence and presence of guilt in my songs during an early, drunken interview, I had now lived long and selfishly enough to really know what lay beyond those brash words. “Home Truth” is as stark, unguarded, and unpolished a lyric as I had written to this point. I could not find any disguise for the simple recitation of falling out of love with someone that I’d adored for many years. The closest thing to distraction is the lyrical allusion to Dan Penn’s “It Tears Me Up” in the bridge. Within the year I would add both Penn’s “Dark End Of The Street” and Johnny Cash’s “I Still Miss Someone to my repertoire.
The obverse of this song could be found in the illicit and shamelessly erotic content of both “Love Field” and “Inch By Inch”. The former is one of the few songs that did not suffer fatally from the instrumental sound of the record, although I believe that the song can be performed more lyrically. “Inch By Inch” was a revision of an outtake from Imperial Bedroom. Given the content of the song, I wish I could claim that there was some conscious humour in borrowing the bass figure from “I’m Only Sleeping”.
With a lighter touch of execution, the narrative and contemporary songs, “Worthless Thing”, “The Deportees Club”, “Joe Porterhouse”, “The Comedians” and my second songwriting collaboration with Clive Langer, “The Great Unknown”, might have been a fine compliment to the first group.
Although often written in disguise, these songs contain hints of the unhappiness and self-disgust I was feeling. “Joe Porterhouse” seems to be about the funeral for a local strongman, but refers to marital strife and children sitting on the stairs “high above a valley of tears” and “broken branches of the family tree”. Even though “Worthless Thing” talks of infamy and Elvis Presley and the arrival of 24 hours of everything that you don’t need, the title alone tells another tale. An earlier draft of the song appears on CD2 under the title “Blue Murder On Union Avenue”.
Disillusionment runs through several of these songs. “The Great Unknown” is a fantasy about burying the title characters of various songs that have been repeated to the point of cliché. “The Deportees Club” took some scenes from a real Roman nightclub and transplanted then into the tale of a lost soul…
I pray to the saints and all the martyrs
For the secret life of Frank Sinatra
But none of these things have come to pass
In America the law is a piece of ass
The song then goes on to list a series of drinks for deadening the pain. Unfortunately, the music of this recording was crude and uninspired, but I thought enough of the words to revise the song with a new ballad melody and simplified title (“Deportee”), which was later wonderfully recorded by Christy Moore.
“The Comedians” takes its title from a Graham Greene book but other than that has no connection with his work. The lyric has something to do with temptation without being too specific. The music was originally patterned after a Roy Orbison ballad, but in the mad pursuit of faster tempi, we stumbled into a rather bizarre arrangement, which drained any drama out of the song.
Three years later I had the opportunity to reclaim the original music and completely rewrite a lyric for inclusion in Roy Orbison’s Mystery Girl album, it also turned out to be the only new composition performed by Roy in the famous Roy Orbison And Friends: Black & White Night television special. My demo of the original version can be heard on CD2.
Despite my emotional disarray, I had written many of the songs for this album by going to a recently vacated office of Demon Records and keeping regular working hours in what I imagined to was the Brill Building style. I also set up an easel, so that when I ran out of song ideas, I might fling a little paint around. The result of this daubing was a rather crude visual joke named after the Hepburn and Tracy movie Pat And Mike. Not all of the songs that I composed turned out to be much more coherent.
“Sour Milk-Cow Blues” may have been written as some distant relation of a New Orleans song like “Holy Cow” or “Get Out My Life Woman”, but the recording lack much wit, grit, or charm. However the notion of no longer recognizing the person you once loved is played out in a few telltale lines:
Somebody’s putting ideas in your head
They took the girl of my dreams and left you here instead
All Along with just your own device
They give you something and it isn’t advice
To break the hearts of a million listeners
Start out as lovers and you end up as prisoners
Several of the first drafts of songs can be heard in demo form on CD2, and it is pretty clear that I cannibalized most of this material to complete the lyrics that appear on the main record.
The song that underwent the most radical revision was “Mystery Voice”. The demo on CD2, recorded on a cassette player during one of my writing sessions, reveals a light ska tune with a surreal lyric. A few lines from the first verse eventually appeared in “Worthless Thing”. Later, I adapted the music to tell the nightmarish tale of a pair of illicit lovers who are walled-up in a hotel room, a scenario from a television play that had terrified me as a child. The new song was called “Room With No Number”. The idea of identity being difficult to sustain returns in these regretful lines in the bridge:
And I wish he could be
The man he was before he was me
The opening song on this album, “The Only Flame In Town”, was originally written in the style heard on the live version in the final section of CD2. It was composed with Aaron Neville in mind. Our laboured attempt to record a band rendition with just such arcane arrangement (which opens CD2) goes a long way in justifying the modern R&B treatment to which it was finally subjugated.
This was one of two track that were given the concentrated production approach and, like many cuts on the record, makes excessive use of the new DX7 synthesizer, the tone of which might as well date-stamp the album to an exact week in 1984. It is not a sound that has improved with age.
This was also the first of my album with The Attractions to feature guests. Gary Barnacle was a very able a ubiquitous session sax player who had appeared on other Langer and Winstanley productions. Unfortunately, when I now hear the sax entrance on “The Only Flame”, I can’t help but think of the theme from Moonlighting. Ah well, it all seemed like a good idea at the time.
More people seemed startled by the appearance of Daryl Hall, who sings the high harmony on “Only Flame”. I would later use the Hall & Oates rhythm section of T-Bone Wolk and Mickey Curry on the King Of America sessions. It was Daryl’s good looks that helped set up one of the better video clips that we made after our early 16mm adventures in France.
Shot by Rock ‘N’ Roll High School director Allan Arkush, “The Only Flame” clip featured a “Win a date with The Attractions contest”, in which the band are actually credited with individual personalities, funny little thumbnail sketches of the real guys. Naturally, my romantic rival was Daryl, but my only real humiliation was in having a Columbia promotion woman hector the makeup girl: “Make him look handsome”, while a very hungover Daryl sat in the next chair looking like a movie star. His hair was perfect.
I found the original Teacher’s Edition version of “I Wanna Be Loved” on a Hi Records compilation in a cutout bin in Newcastle, while on tour. The halting piano run-through on CD2 was as close to the original mood as I could get. Although less heavily produced than “The Only Flame”, it still contains the saxophone interjections that fix it in the times. Green of Scriti Politti provided the high vocal harmonies on this occasion.
The video clip made for this song is the only one that I feel really adds anything much to the performance. It was shot by Evan English while we were on tour in Melbourne. Having insisted that I stay up all night so that I was feeling quite overwrought, and this being a period of particularly difficult personal circumstances, Evan then placed me in a photo-booth set. As I performed the song, sometimes singing live over the track as well as lip-synching, a great variety of people entered the frame, whispering, blowing in my ear, or kissing me on the cheek. The effect was very unsettling, and the range of reactions seen were entirely genuine and somehow added gravity to a rather plastic-sounding record.
Guitars don’t really feature that much in the songs recorded for this album. The exception is the outtake “Turning The Town Red”. The basic track was cut at SARM, but I completed the more intricate guitar and vocal arrangement at AIR Studios with Jon Jacobs, who had worked on Imperial Bedroom.
The song was written for the opening titles of Alan Bleasdale’s comic serial Scully, in which the title character dreams of leading out the Liverpool football team in front of their most dedicated fans on the Kop terrace. I also made a supporting appearance in the story as a nearly mute member of the central family who is obsessed with railway timetables.
A demo of the first draft (CD2, track 11) appears to have a lyric that is being free-associated, but the final version (CD2, track 3) sounds like another of my many attempts to write a Chrissie Hynde song (“Men Called Uncle”, “Kid About It”, “Mouth Almighty”).
Several of the track on CD2 feature warm up songs from various sessions. “Young Boy Blues” was a Ben E. King song (written by Doc Pomus) that I had recently fallen for on Joe Camilleri’s Black Sorrows Sonola album. “Get Yourself Another Fool” is a Charlie Brown cut that I had learned from Sam Cooke’s Night Beat album.
“Baby It’s You” was cut for a joint-promo single, publicizing a U.S. tour on which Nick Lowe & His Cowboy Outfit were opening up for us. Ludicrously, Columbia refused to release it because, according to them, it was “too good” and they feared it would distract from both artists’ current single releases.
Another oddity is my guest vocal appearance on Madness’ “Tomorrow’s (Just Another Day)”. I had known the group since they had first recorded for Two-Tone. They were now well into their phenomenal run of success on Stiff Records. This version of a hit tune was cut for a B-side, illustrating a streak of melancholy that runs through their later work. My decision to perform the vocal in the style of Anthony Newley may have been ill-advised. Variations on a new vocal identity also appear on the demo of “Joe Porterhouse” and yet another version of the allusive “The Town Where Time Stood Still” that was in contention for a third time.
The rest of the acoustic performances on CD2 are songs featured in the repertoire of my first solo tour. “Withered And Died” is one of two Richard Thompson songs that I performed, the other being “The End Of The Rainbow”. Along with John Hiatt’s “She Loves The Jerk”, these titles underline the mood of many of my performances.
By the end of a U.S. tour of concert halls and colleges, in the company of T-Bone Burnett, I realized that the record that I had just made was terribly flawed. Unfortunately, my financial circumstances at the time were such that to shelve the record would have invited bankruptcy.
My only consolation was that I got to reclaim a number of songs in concert that had lost their way in the studio, including several of the recent recordings and marry them to other people’s songs that mirrored my state of mind. The last six tracks on CD2 give a glimpse of these concerts.
Although between solo and band tours throughout the year, as my private life went into considerable turmoil, I recorded only one more new song in 1984, when I took The Attraction into the studio during our Y.K. dates. The result didn’t really match the emotional intent of “I Hope You’re Happy Now”, which had to wait for a more sarcastic reading on Blood & Chocolate before being officially issued.
The final piece on this album is the song “Peace In Our Time”. For years, I’ve regarded this composition as being rather too self-conscious in its attempt to follow on the commentary begun with the songs “Shipbuilding” and “Pills And Soap”. Indeed the track was unsuccessfully released as another “Imposter” single and performed in the U.S. on the NBC Tonight Show, making little or no impression on the audience.
It certainly didn’t take a shy or modest view of the subject matter, opening with a reference to the Munich Agreement and post-war European alliances and continuing into a second verse that talks about Cold War blacklists and has an atomic scientist doubting his handiwork.
The songs does have a pretty melody that inspired by Paul Simon’s “Rene And Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After The War” and the record concludes with a beautifully played trombone solo by Big Jim Paterson on a theme of mine entitled “World Without End”.
Although I once referred to the song as being a “relic from the days of nuclear dread”, some of the lines seem sadly to be coming into their time once again. Though the last verse refers to then-current events: the invasion of Grenada, the conflict in the Falkland Islands, one of the Rocky films, and the Presidential candidacy of astronaut John Glenn, their counterparts can easily be found in today’s headlines.
If I were to sing this song today, final lines of the last verse would address someone with the appearance of a moral and intellectual vacuum, a mere pitchman for the company store that has ruled America on and off for the last 60 years. An illegitimate authority that is aloof and apparently contemptuous of the general decency of the very people it purports to represent.
Politicians and their apologists in the media often patronize musicians and other artists. We are supposedly naïve and don’t understand the cruel and cold realities of the world. Then again we are not the ones who have provoked or underwritten countless military confrontations and hypocritically promoted global instability through fear, in the guise of defending freedom, justice, and corporate profit. The only difference in those they oppose being a willingness to glory in a relationship with evil that goes undisguised.
Writing in the late spring of ’04, the title of this piece seems a more distant prospect than ever. I have to hope that this flawed song doesn’t sound like a sick joke by November.
They’re lighting a bonfire upon every hilltop in the land
Just another tiny island invaded when he’s got the whole world in his hands
And the Heavyweight Champion fights in the International Propaganda Star Wars
There’s already one spaceman in the White House what do you want another one for?

And the bells take their toll once again in victory chime
And we can thank God that we’ve finally got peace in our time
-Elvis Costello


Rykodisk Liner Notes

Congratulations! You've just purchased our worst album. At least that is the impression I've given over the years and I am sure that you could find many people who would agree with me. However as you are reading this I will assume that you are curious, rather than morbid. I can explain everything....
Many very private and personal concerns influenced the fate of these songs and sessions. A "sleeve note" is certainly not the proper place to discuss them. It must suffice to say that I began the year as a married man and after a fraught and futile period, I found myself living alone by the time this record was released. "Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa", as we used to say in church without being really sure what it meant. I was about to find out.
Musically speaking the year began positively. I decided to stop rushing into songs as soon as a single idea sprang into my head. Instead I collected many fragments and then applied myself to an intense period of writing. Moving a piano and a couple of guitars into F-Beat Records' recently vacated Acton office I went to work during ordinary business hours "Tin-Pan Alley Style". Most of the time writing went quite smoothly and if I got stuck I had installed an easel so that I could attempt a little oil painting.
(In fact "Eamonn Singer" ended up daubing "Pat and Mike" - a very corny visual joke which makes up part of the "artwork". He is still awaiting an offer from the Getty Foundation).
My gravest mistake for all concerned was in asking Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley to produce this record. This is far from a criticism of Clive and Alan's abilities. In truth I didn't need a producer, I probably needed a nurse (or maybe a priest). "Pop Music" was among the things about which I was depressed and demoralized. Despite the success of Punch The Clock I fought every attempt to apply the Clanger/Winstanley method to these songs. That I thought of approaching Richard Thompson to add guitar to a couple of cuts is a clue to dark tone I was really after. Like so many of my notions of the time it came to nothing.
After two tense and fairly unproductive weeks of playing "live" in London's SARM WEST STUDIOS we called a truce. I'm almost certain that Clive wished he could get out of the project but stuck it out more as a friend than a professional. I agreed to let them work their magic on a few cuts and give the record company some commercial focus while the rest of the tunes went fairly unadorned. It was a happy, if fatal, compromise.
All of Clive and Alan's techniques went into "The Only Flame In Town". Bruce and Pete were locked to a clatter of mechanical percussion and Steve worked up the dizzy keyboard arrangement (including a little Bach.)
Our first guest musician was Gary Barnacle who added the kind of part that was popular in those days on an instrument that I have come to despise in the hands of all but a few.
(On the subsequent tour Gary was our solitary horn player. In an attempt to duplicate the "Punch The Clock" section sound he played through an extravagant array of harmonizing and octave-dividing devices, achieving a very passable impersonation of an Italian traffic-jam).
Our second guest was Daryl Hall who added some effortless high harmonies to the chorus. He was also adored by the camera during the shooting of the accompanying "Win A Date with Elvis and The Attractions" video -made by Allen Arkush - director of both Rock'n'Roll High School and early episodes of Moonlighting. Daryl made the rest of us look as if we had just crawled out of a hedge. My humour wasn't helped by the record company representative shrieking at the make-up girl: "Make him look handsome" as I was about to go under the pancake. Ah! The eighties.
(Even though the finished record was a minor hit single in the US it hasn't dated very well. Some the lines tumble off the tightrope without the justification of the original ballad treatment).
The other big production number on the album was a cover of an extremely rare Hi Records/Willie Mitchell cut: "I Wanna Be Loved" by Teacher's Edition. From the foundation of a cranky souning drum machine we made one of our very few slow-dance records. The high harmonies on this cut were provided by Green of Scritty Politti.
(Despite a few dated touches this track remains closer to my heart than it's companion, particularly when heard in conjunction with "photo-booth" video which was directed in Melbourne, Australia by Evan English. This is one of the only occasions that a video actually improved one of our records. "I Wanna Be Loved" was also my last U.K. hit single in the company of The Attractions for nine years. In fact we were banished from the BBC's "Top of the Pops" studio after Pete mimed his final drum-fill by playing it on his head. According to the preening producer this revealed the state secret that we were not actually playing "live".)
There isn't much rock'n'roll on this record. There is a detached, an almost sedated quality to the remaining songs and performances. However I believe that the words are a big improvement on most of "Punch The Clock". Although many of the stories are dense and obscure they can't disguise the fears, doubts and desires. If some of the songs fail to hold up then that is because they are a product of my gloomiest and least inspired days.
"Somone's putting ideas in your head
They took the girl of my dreams
and left you here instead"
"Sour Milk Cow Blues"
I couldn't always muster much technique when feelings were running high. "Home Truth" was the saddest song that I had ever written but it struggled to seem so in the clipped and sterile studio sound. meanwhile the bewildered tales of adulterous life fared much better, which I suppose I was fitting. As someone once said "deep down I'm very superficial".
"Inch by Inch" had a chorus which seemed to be trying to cross Henry Mancini with The Impressions while I started to believe that "Love Field" sounded a bit like a Serge Gainsbourg production. I even tried to make the words sound as if they had been badly translated from another language.
My second songwriting collaboration with Clive produced "The Great Unknown". In it, infamous characters from celebrated songs have spiteful things done to them. I was having my doubts about being "known" at all and this was probably the least awkward way of expressing it. The dolorous mood continues with "Joe Porterhouse" which is about the funeral of a family strong man.
(I adapted the music and some of the words from "I Love You When You Sleep", a song I had written for Respond Records artist Tracie.)
"Worthless Thing" was written when the mausoleum-builders of the T.V. and magazine trade had only just started catching lightning and turning it into a museum piece. It mentions a lot of things in passing: Game Shows, bodysnatchers, "Elvis Presley Wine", obsessives, cable television, and "an obituary... for every clockwork cat and conceivable kitten" but most of all it was about the lack of surprises. It is a pity that self-loathing wasn't more fashionable at the time.
I think I probably wanted to make a kind of "folk-rock" record but instead of an open ringing sound we ended up with a muted background against which events were supposed to occur. When we did attempt to produce a more detailed song we produced "Room Without A Number", which believe it or not started out as a perfectly good country mystery-story.
(I'm afraid we also fell under the spell of fashionable hardware. Steve had always used synthesizers to colour his keyboard parts. They had a rarity because they were not exactly cheap and seemed to bend to the player's style. The latest fad was the Yamaha DX7. This light, inexpensive device seemed ideal for about six months by which time almost every group in the world seemed to have one. It has a tinny, unyielding tone for which I will never be nostalgic. Along with the veneer of Solid State recording the omni-present DX7 does more than anything else to "datestamp" this record).
Sometimes perversity ruled the day. I trivialized the drama of "The Comedians" by my willful decision to re-arrange it in 5/4 time, while "Deportees Club" was simply the wrong music for the right words. Thankfully none of this proved fatal in the long run.
Between the competition and the release of this record I discovered some of the mistakes I'd made. During that time I played my first professional solo concerts on a tour of the United States. I got a chance to reclaim several old tunes that had got lost in the studio but most of all I began to rescue my newest songs from the recorded fog. I even went so far as to re-compose the music of "Deportees Club". Stripping off the over-wrought racket I found a tune more in keeping with an exile's lament. Several years later Christy Moore cut a great version of it for his album "The Voyage".
The opening act on the solo tour was T Bone Burnett. We got along like several blazing houses. During the three tours we did together in the following twelve months I wrote the songs that T Bone would produce for my album "King Of America". A couple of years after that T Bone asked me if I had a suitable song for Roy Orbison's "Mystery Girl" album. It didn't take much to return "The Comedians" to its original arrangement, which sounded something like "Running Scared". However I added new words and a few extra modulations before I gave the finished tune to Roy. When the "The Comedians" appeared on Roy's last record I felt that I had done everything possible to rescue what was left of this squandered material.
The last track on "Goodbye Cruel World" is "Peace In Our Time". If it now seems like a relic of those days of anti-nuclear dread then I hope it stays that way. In the instrumental refrain trombonist Jim Paterson plays the melody from another unfinished song of mine: "World Without End".

"TURNING THE TOWN RED" (Double-A-Side of "I Wanna Be Loved" single)
This was written for the opening titles of Alan Bleasdale's television series "Scully". The basic track was cut dring the "Goodbye Cruel World" sessions but for the vocal and guitar overdubs I returned to AIR studios and worked with Jon Jacobs (who was assistant engineer on "Imperial Bedroom").
This track was recorded at Nick Lowe's "Ampro Studios". As Nick and his Cowboy outfit were to join us on the U.S. leg of our "Goodbye Cruel World" tour Columbia Records suggested that we cut something "extra" for a joint twelve-inch promo record featuring each of our latest single releases. Despite all our studio work together this was our first duet on record. Unfortunately the record company deemed the track "too good", fearing that it would draw airplay from the "real" singles. Such was the complex strategy of the modern recording industry. Consequently "Baby It's You" saw very little exposure until it's release on the Demon Records compilation "Out Of Our Idiot".
These tracks come from an EDEN STUDIOS session during the "Goodbye Cruel World" tour.
It was a year full of contradictions and a rather erratic tour. There was one night when SAM MOORE joined us for a great duet on "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down" but on other evenings I struggled to connect with even my own songs. The shows tended to ramble. Sometimes we stayed on stage for over three hours until I found what I wanted in other people's songs. These tunes included "Dark End Of The Street", "I Still Miss Someone", "I've Forgotten More Than You'll Ever Know" and "I'll make it all up to you".
"I knew then what I know now
I never loved you anyhow...."
"I HOPE YOU'RE HAPPY NOW" was written during a brief summer trip to Italy. I planned to make another "Instant Single" of this track but it failed to come out sounding quite the way I felt. Instead we cut a brace of r'n'b ballads of which "GET YOURSELF ANOTHER FOOL" was the best. I learned it from the Sam Cooke record "Night Beat" although I later found out that this version paid tribute to the style of Charles Brown.
A few snapshots from my first solo tour.
A demo recording of the new melody of this song.
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Post by johnfoyle »

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The Last Temptation of the Completist
[23 January 2006]

by Zeth Lundy
PopMatters Music Columns Editor


Pop music was once bigger than itself, a labyrinthian world with self-made pockets of myths and mysteries. Pop was more than just music; equally important to its magnetic allure were the legends its music spawned, mythical footnotes that accompanied the albums we heard and, at times, withheld the albums we didn't hear. Unreleased studio outtakes were mythologized: the greatest single that never was; the lost record, conceptualized but never realized. Live concerts became bloated depictions of lore, disseminated through the bootleg trading underworld and canonized in exaggerated halls of fame.

But gradually, systematically, pop's longstanding mythology is being debunked and demystified, thanks to a combination of technological advances and general human curiosity. Older works, thought to be lost like ashes of the ages, are being reworked; expanded reissues of classic albums offer outtakes on bonus discs. The missing pieces of pop's puzzle are being reassembled. Riddles are being solved for us, one by one, whether we like it or not. But what if we don't want the puzzle completed with in such a definitive manner? What if we want to plug the gaps ourselves, with the bits and pieces we've struggled to collect? Being offered a glimpse behind the fabled curtain is one of the last temptations of the completist, but how does it ultimately impact our perception of the original albums? Do we ignore the meddling (and weather its temptation) or embrace it, and have the element of mystery drained from how we personally experience music?

Some reissues offer "alternate realities" that directly contradict the original release. The two-disc Rhino editions of Elvis Costello's Punch the Clock and Goodbye Cruel World include acoustic demo tracks of nearly every album song. These two particular records (often singled out as two of Costello's worst) were mired in glossy, dated '80s production indulgences; hearing the songs delivered untainted allows us to reexamine them with all prejudices expunged. The effect these alternate versions have on us can vary: We can learn to appreciate the original albums more than we ever thought we could, we can finally see the albums for what they really were -- collections of decent songs with poor execution, or we simply loathe the albums more intensely than before as impeachable bastardizations of relatively good intentions.
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Post by johnfoyle »

At last - a proper use for GCW!


This 8.5 x 11 wire bound notebook is made out of an Elvis Costello and the Attractions record and has 75 sheets of blank paper. Fill it with your favorite words, compositions or sketches!
Please note: No records were damaged in the making of this notebook! I only use record covers that held overloved and unusable records.
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Re: 1984, Goodbye Cruel World sleevenote

Post by johnfoyle »

This title still from a rather jolly sounding French movie looks familiar -


sans toit ni loi
(aka 'Without Roof or Rule ' or 'Vagabond')

directed by Agnes Varda 1985

Sandrine Bonnaire won a César award for her portrayal of Mona, a defiant young drifter who is found frozen in a ditch. Using a largely non-professional cast, famed New Wave filmmaker Agnès Varda recollects Mona’s story through the flashbacks of those who encountered her, producing the splintered portrait of an enigmatic woman. Told in sparsely poetic images set against the frozen landscape of mid-winter Nîmes, this is Varda’s masterpiece.


Yes, it would seem to be the same location as this -


Accounts at the time said the photo was taken after concerts by Elvis and The Attractions in France in Feb. 1984.
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Re: 1984, Goodbye Cruel World sleevenote

Post by invisible Pole »

Great find!
I saw the film many years ago and remember I liked it a lot, but the GCW landsacape must have escaped me.
Last edited by invisible Pole on Wed Sep 03, 2008 1:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 1984, Goodbye Cruel World sleevenote

Post by johnfoyle »

This soundtrack album confirms the common location -

http://www.soundtrackcollector.com/cata ... ieid=80620

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Re: 1984, Goodbye Cruel World sleevenote

Post by johnfoyle »

"Deportees Club". Several years later Christy Moore cut a great version of it for his album "The Voyage".
- Elvis
Christy has this lyric and note on his site -

http://www.christymoore.com/lyrics_tabs ... .php?id=48

Deportees' Club
Elvis Costello

At the Arrividerci Roma night club bar and grill
Standing in the fibre-glass ruin watching time stand still
All your troubles you'll confess
To another faceless, backless dress
Schnapps, Chianti, Porter and Ouzo
Pernod Vodka, Sambuca, I love you so poor deportee.

There's a fading beauty talking in riddles
Rome burns down and everybody fiddles
The poor deportee
But a thousand dollars won't buy you a yankee wife, alas
There's a thousand years of history
drowned in that whiskey glass

Now I wish that she was mine
I could have been a king in 6/8 time - poor deportee
Schnapps, Chianti, Porter and Ouzo
Pernod Vodka, Sambuca, I love you so poor deportee

It's a brittle charm, but the lady's had enough
Still she wrote her number on your paper cuff
It's hard to know when to start and when to stop
Her pillow talk is nothing more than talking shop

When I came here tonight my pockets were overflowing
She stole my return ticket and I didn't even know it
I prayed to the saints and all the martyrs
For the secret life of Frank Sinatra
And all of these things have to come to pass
In America the law is a piece of ass - deportee

Schnapps, Chianti, Porter and Ouzo
Pernod, Vodka, Sambuca, I love you so
Poor deportee.
Schnapps, Chianti, Porter and Ouzo
Pernod, Vodka, Sambuca, I love you so - deportee.
I love you so poor deportee.


Sorry no Chords at present.


I met the quare fella when he lived here for a decade or two,when I heard him on "Blue" his singin mesmerised me,he called in and sang a great harmony on "Missing you" and then (Ithink) he sent me the words of this, I changed a few of them but he never complained.He set sail out west a few years ago,way out west now but always making music,one of these days hes gonna write a song for me..maybe when ....
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Re: 1984, Goodbye Cruel World sleevenote

Post by johnfoyle »

A new dvd edition of the film featuring the same location as the GCW cover came out last year -

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Vagabond-DVD-Sa ... 007&sr=1-1
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Re: 1984, Goodbye Cruel World sleevenote

Post by johnfoyle »

Brian Griffin took the GCW cover photos. I asked him about it on Facebook - he replied -

'Basically John, the band were breaking up. Hence Pete and Steve are in white and Elvis plus Bruce are in black. These pairings were their idea. On the back cover you can see individual portraits blending into backgrounds. This symbolically displays the end of their collaboration. Its quite funny when taking this into account that only Bruce is the one that left.'
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Re: 1984, Goodbye Cruel World sleevenote

Post by And No Coffee Table »

Elvis Costello wrote:In 1999 I was making a small cameo appearance in a movie called 200 Cigarettes. The story was set in 1980, and with the help of some clever lighting and a hat I was playing “myself”. The film was a comedy that did a pretty good job of catching the mood of those days between punk and the real onset of the dreadful ‘80s.
The cast contained many young actors, including Paul Rudd, Martha Plimpton, Chistina Ricci, Kate Hudson, Courtney Love, and even Casey Affleck and his brother, Ben. As some of the these people were only children during the period of the film, I was quite surprised that any of them had ever heard of me. In fact, one of the actors asked if I would sign an album that she had first bought when in college. She produced a dog-eared and much-played copy of this album, and I felt a little guilty that I had begun the liner note of a previous CD edition with the words:
“Congratulations! You’ve just bought our worst record!”
From an interview with Martha Plimpton:
200 Cigarettes (1999)—“Monica”

MP: Well, you know, she’s the one who’s throwing this New Year’s party that everyone is supposed to be avoiding or whatever, and nobody shows up. The highlight of that experience for me was getting to meet Elvis Costello.

AVC: As well it should’ve been.

MP: He was awesome. And I… [Pause.] I don’t know if I should tell you this, but… I was so excited to meet Elvis Costello that when he wrapped, when he was done, the wardrobe people let me go into his trailer and dab the sweat from the inside of his porkpie hat onto a piece of toilet paper, which I then slid into the sleeve of my Goodbye Cruel World album that he had just signed. I feel like maybe I shouldn’t have admitted that I have Elvis Costello’s sweat on a piece of toilet paper. [Laughs.] But I do!
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Re: 1984, Goodbye Cruel World sleevenote

Post by strangerinthehouse »

I've read that interview and meant to post something too. Not sure which is worse - Grabbing EC's sweat or saying that GCW is your favorite album? :lol:
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to be like the big boys
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Re: 1984, Goodbye Cruel World sleevenote

Post by johnfoyle »

http://dkandroughmix-forgottensongs.blo ... g-and.html


Elvis Costello - Live Salle Victoire Montpellier (1984) - includes link to recording of this show -

http://www.elviscostello.info/wiki/inde ... ontpellier


The memory of this event persisted again few months later ,when I bought in June, his new album Goodbye Cruel World. Because what surprised me was when I discovered the picture on the sleeve , showing two trees on a small mound, with Costello's gang perched on it. These trees are famous here, they are called the Saint Aunes twin cypress, which can be seen along the A9 motorway, few miles before Montpellier city, as well as on the first images of the Agnes Varda's film Sans toi, ni loi.
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Re: 1984, Goodbye Cruel World sleevenote

Post by krm »

It is actually a local tourist attraction! (pun intended!!!)


2 Cypress

True symbol of Saint Aunes, clearly visible from the highway, two cypress peak above the Ecopark, they constitute the green embedded in a landscaped garden.

Planted in the early 1800s by the owner of the land, these two trees survived the German invasion, the frosts of 1956 and bulldozers from the A9 motorway.

One can recognize in the film by Agnès Varda "Without Roof or Law" and on the cover of an album by Elvis Costello.

(as google translate interprets this...)

I also realise that I must have been driving past this place a few times during my vacations in France. Little did I know.......
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Re: 1984, Goodbye Cruel World sleevenote

Post by veronicacostello »

I don't really understand the dislike of this album.

I love this album...love love love it. I love the 80s-ness. I love the cheezy sax and Daryl Hall on "Only Flame". Worthless Thing, Sour Milk Cow Blues, Inch By Inch..COME ON..WHAT'S NOT TO LOVE?! :lol:

I love it all with zero guilt or shame.

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Re: 1984, Goodbye Cruel World sleevenote

Post by Jackson Monk »

I agree. For me, this was unfairly maligned because it wasn't to the standard of what came before. It's got some great songs and some wonderful lyrics. Worthless Thing, Home Truth, Deportee Club, The Comedians, Inch by Inch and Peace in Our Time are all great songs.
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Re: 1984, Goodbye Cruel World sleevenote

Post by watercamp »

"I wanna be loved" should have been a #1 hit, a beautiful musical tribute to basic human angst..
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Re: 1984, Goodbye Cruel World sleevenote

Post by John »

It was always the side 2 run of Sour Milk-Cow Blues, The Great Unknown and The Deportees Club that turned me off this record.

One of the best Rhino bonus discs though.
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Re: 1984, Goodbye Cruel World sleevenote

Post by johnfoyle »


Interesting use by Andrew MacIntosh of Brian Griffin's cover image for Goodbye Cruel World. It looks like a version of it , not necessarily Brian's photo of the Saint Aunes twin cypress, which can be seen along the A9 motorway, a few miles before Montpellier city, France.

https://twitter.com/ConcreteMetal/statu ... 9859184640

#NewTopographies Andrew MacIntosh @mackieart
[Southwark Park bandstand/ Elvis Costello & the Attractions]
@SaulHayFineArt MCR #Castlefield


Screengrab from the gallery's site.


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Re: 1984, Goodbye Cruel World sleevenote

Post by wardo68 »

The updated, expanded reviews roll on:
https://everybodysdummy.blogspot.com/20 ... world.html
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