Elvis Costello

Born 25 August 1954.
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Elvis Costello - Archive Concert

Elvis Costello playing live at the Hammersmith Palais in London in 1982.

Featured in BBC Music Clips


Elvis Costello (born Declan Patrick MacManus, 25 August 1954) is an English singer-songwriter. He 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 of the mid-to-late 1970s. His critically acclaimed debut album, My Aim Is True, was recorded in 1976. Shortly after recording his first album 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 of the period 1967–1987. His third album, Armed Forces, was released in 1979, and features his most successful single "Oliver's Army". 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. Steeped in wordplay, the vocabulary of Costello's lyrics is broader than that of most popular songs. 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".

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BBC Reviews

  1. Review of National Ransom

    National Ransom 2010

    Reviewed by Chris Roberts
    Costello’s Nashville love affair continues, but while enjoyable this is no classic.
  2. Review of Live at the El Mocambo

    Live at the El Mocambo 2009

    Reviewed by Paul Lester
    Pop’s angriest man caught live in 1978.
  3. Review of My Aim Is True

    My Aim Is True 2007

    Reviewed by Sid Smith
    His aim is still true after all these years. Brilliant stuff.
  4. Review of Best Of Elvis Costello: First 10 Years

    Best Of Elvis Costello: First 10 Years 2007

    Reviewed by Chris White
    All are standout selections from their respective albums
  5. Review of When I Was Cruel

    When I Was Cruel 2004

    Reviewed by Katharina Lobeck
    Nobody likes bitterness Elvis, except sometimes in chocolate.
  6. Review of North

    North 2003

    Reviewed by Rob Webb
    In many ways, this is his most intimate collection. And all this with less than 12...
  7. Review of Get Happy!!

    Get Happy!! 1980

    Reviewed by Chris Jones
    Elvis' greatest album. Filled with the bitterest soul stew ever ...
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