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4.5 out of 5 stars22
4.5 out of 5 stars
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All that can be said about the original album here has been said many times over since its release in 1977 - if you've never heard it, you're in for a treat, it represents the sudden arrival in the spotlight of a very major new songwriter who, if not the world's greatest singer, had an absolutely compelling delivery and packed his debut full of very good to great songs that formed a whole even greater than the very considerable sum of their parts. It also stands slightly apart from all Costello's work over the next few years due to being recorded prior to the acquisition of his superb backing band, The Attractions - he was in fact backed by the then UK-based American country-rock band Clover, who subsequently evolved into Huey Lewis & The News, although Lewis himself doesn't appear on the album.

Now fans of Costello's work have been treated with considerable contempt by record companies over the years, with his early albums reissued numerous times, each with a partially different selection of bonus tracks. I previously had the 1993 version, which augmented the original album with, firstly, three tracks originally issued on singles and all present here, too - Watching The Detectives, Radio Sweetheart and Stranger In The House - the latter two of which were from the album sessions - and a selection of bedroom demos made by Costello before signing to Stiff, plus a solitary demo by his mid-70s band, Flip City. None of these early recordings are present here; instead, we get a further out-take from the album session (Living In Paradise) and an out-take from the Watching The Detectives session with Andrew Bodnar and Steve Goulding (No Action), both later re-recorded for his next album "This Year's Model" and interestingly described as "lost" in the sleeve notes to the 1993 version, plus no less than 8 solo demos recorded, like the album, at Pathway Studios in Islington and presumably part of the preparation for the final recording. I can take or leave this stuff, really - there are some otherwise unrecorded songs but overall this session pales beside the album proper.

And finally, on the second disc, is the earliest live recording of Elvis Costello & The Attractions so far issued. This was recorded shortly after the album's release at the beginning of a 5 week residency (one gig a week) at the late, lamented Nashville Room, one of London's premier pub venues of the time. They'd been touring for about 3 weeks at this point and it was about their 15th show together. The newness of the ensemble is audible in the rather rudimentary arrangements - Steve Nieve in particular improved hugely over the next few months - but the energy is palpable and Costello is on superb form vocally, absolutely razor sharp. As well as the complete show, there are also 5 songs recorded at the soundcheck, and with the exception of Alison none of them were played in the show. Between the show and the soundcheck, they play 11 of the 12 songs on My Aim Is True and 6 from the as yet unrecorded This Year's Model, plus a few more that all got recorded sooner or later or were already in the can, including Watching The Detectives. It's also worth pointing out that the two live tracks on the B-side of the original Watching The Detectives 45 (Blame It On Cain and Mystery Dance) were from this show, and this is the first time they've been reissued as far as I know.

It would have been great if, instead of forcing fans to shell out over and over for the original albums to acquire more and different bonus tracks (and this applies to plenty of other artists besides EC), someone had had the sense 20 or 25 years ago to put all the demos, out-takes etc. in a box set for the hardcore fans and issue the live shows individually - as they have done with some, although this seems to have stopped after a couple, unfortunately. But of course record companies mostly don't work like that, and worse still, Costello's early catalogue has changed hands at various times, with each new company understandably wanting to make a dollar out of it.

I can happily live without the demos, though they're good enough as far as they go, but the live show, despite The Attractions being at such an early stage of their evolution, makes this a very desirable package, and the mastering of the original album is exemplary.
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on 17 November 2011
The main album is a timeless classic but other reviewers seem to have missed commenting about the best bit which is on the second disc. This is not a 'few live tracks' this is a concert from a London pub (the Nashville Rooms) with the sound check included. This makes it a snapshot in history that I keep visiting again and again. The intimacy of the venue really comes across. The version of Sneaky Feelings from the sound check is now my all time favourite record (until next week!) and the barking dog from outside the pub at the beginning of Alison makes it all so real.
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on 10 November 2007
Yes this is the brilliant debut album from Elvis Costello from 1977.
As a collector-fan from Elvis I bought it.
I bought the LP in the late 70's,
and the CD from the album (13 songs).somewhere in the '80
the reissue CD with extended play ( 9 extra songs,total 22 songs) in '93.
the re-reissue Cd with 2nd disc( 13 extra songs,total 26 songs) in 2001.
and this one, total of the songs now: 48.
probably in 2015 another one with 99 songs.
But the album is what it always was; raw,straight forward music (new wave...?), brilliant songwriting.
it stood out of all what was going on in the late 70's,(...disco and remember punk?) and still does!
He made some very different albums over the years, jazz ,classical and so on.
Most of them also worth buying.
But this cannot be topped.
Oh and for all the extra songs, for a fan they are interesting, some demo's, some out-takes,and the best of the bonus stuff: a very early live show of the Attractions, even the sound-check is included!
And interesting inner sleeve notes, from Elvis himself.
But (for sentimental reasons) I still prefer to play the LP.........I found out years and years later that in the wax on the LP they(Stiff?) had scratched "Elvis is king "
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on 19 September 2013
along with the clash, stranglers and the pistols one of the best albums of '77
the thing was those were punk albums and this was really just pub rock
36 years later Costello is still going strong
with a lot more ideas than any of the old school punks
a great album that you can still sing-a-long to!
My Aim Is True
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on 10 May 2012
I won't get into the issues about various CD releases over the years each having a few more tracks than the last, which is irritating. I only had my original rather battered Stiff LP release of this record. I only like the first 3 Costello albums.

Disc 1 has the original album tracks which are as superb as ever. Then there's a clutch of 4 outtakes for tracks that didn;'t make it onto the album. Then there's a solo set just EC and guitar which were teh demos recorded at Pathway studios in 1976. That set's quite interesting but not essential.
Disc 2 is a complete concert set from the Nashville Rooms in Aug 77 (with a bonus of the soundcheck at the end too) recorded on the Island Mobile rig, so quality is top notch. Pretty excellent bonus, unlike many of the 2 disc sets with "outtakes and extras" I would be happy to listen to this over again.

So - if you like the original album this box set is worth getting. If you haven't heard much early Costello then this set is also worth getting.
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on 1 March 2012
This is one of the few albums I can call "perfect" from beginning to end. It's just that each and every song speaks to me in ways I can't even begin to describe. Sure, I may have been going through a rough time in my teenage life when I first discovered Elvis Costello, but that doesn't mean jack. Costello's songs are always heartfelt, filled with angst, literate, and insanely catchy above all.

`My Aim Is True' has this shamelessly retro style that sounds quite weird for its time. The vocal performance and the production sound like they belong to Buddy Holly. That comparison won't seem so far-fetched once you get a good look at young Costello on the cover: skinny, sharp-dressed and bespectacled. Quite an image...

I can't recommend this album enough. Buy it, treasure it. Then buy it again for your nerdy friends and ex-girlfriends.
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on 23 April 2002
This album, predating the Attractions, has to be heard: a weird preview of the great things to come, with the trademark Costello sound given a corny country twinge by Clover, Huey Lewis' country band. Songs like "Waiting for the End of the World" and "Welcome to the Working Week" are up there with anything the man's done since, and the bonus disc is worth the money alone, including demos from the album "This Year's Girl" that was to follow and the very first recordings of Costello from a BBC London Radio show, derivative country songs that tell you a lot about his influences and early development. The best thing on here is the bizarre "Dallas" version of "Less Than Zero", a transatlantic version of the classic which changes the subject matter from Oswald Mosley to JFK!
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on 3 November 2015
Elvis arrived on the music scene fully formed with a shed load of material. This album captures the mood of the period perfectly. Quite raw and edgy but exciting.
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VINE VOICEon 8 January 2010
This album contains the original debut album of Elvis Costello; which are the first twelve tracks of the first disc; plus the first extended version tracks and then those added for the Ryoku version. The second disc is mainly live versions. Even with all the additions, there isn't a single track that has been added as a filler.

Even after all these years since its' release it remains fresh and original; and still one of my favourite ever albumns.

I can't recommend this album highly enough.
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on 6 January 2016
The breakthrough Album with Elvis Costello at his brilliant best, was lucky to see him on the stiff tour, what a label and what a collection of talent!
A must have for any collection for the lover of lyrics!
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