“Sensitive, impeccably researched account of his journey from pub-rock mediocrity in Flip City to New Wave megastardom with the Attractions and beyond.” Time Out (London)
The Life and Music of Elvis Costello
978-1-84195-796-8 • $16.00 • Paperback • June 2006
Elvis Costello is undoubtedly one of the most important and challenging musicians of the last thirty years. Complicated Shadows paints a detailed portrait of an intensely private, complex, and creatively restless individual. It draws on a wealth of new research, including exclusive interviews with people from all stages of Costello’s life and career: classmates, friends, members of his early bands, former lovers, members of the Attractions, producers, and various collaborators.
Complicated Shadows unearths many previously unknown details about Costello’s childhood in London and Liverpool and his early years as a struggling musician, as well as his turbulent personal life. It also reveals the circumstances surrounding his marriages to ex-Pogues bassist Cait O’Riordan and jazz singer Diana Krall, and the bitter breakup of his long-term backing band, the Attractions. We are made privy to the moment when Elvis and the Attractions were on the cusp of superstardom while touring the States in 1979. Costello’s “coiled tight” personality and penchant for outrageous candor set the tone for a frenetic, and aesthetically inventive, independent band. Their independence is epitomized by their infamous 1977 Saturday Night Live appearance (replacing the Sex Pistols, who dropped out) when Costello cut short the scheduled song, “Less Than Zero,” shouting “Stop. Stop. . . . I’m sorry ladies and gentlemen, there’s no reason to do this song here,” then directed the band to play the as-of-yet unreleased “Radio Radio.” Costello didn’t appear on live U.S. television again until the 1980s.
Complicated Shadows contains a full examination and analysis of the entirety of Costello’s vast and varied musical output, both in the studio and on the stage.