The Hall of Fame lists what it considers the "Essential Songs" of an artist at the time of their induction. The following are the songs they picked for Elvis Costello and The Attractions when they were inducted on March 10th, 2003 …
(listed in the order the R&R HOF website lists them):
Alison - Pump It Up - Watching the Detectives - Lipstick Vogue
Oliver's Army - Man Out of Time - Shipbuilding - Almost Blue
Radio Radio - (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding
As Elvis began working on a series of demo recordings for When I Was Cruel, old pal Pete Thomas was there on drums along with Davey Faragher (of "Cracker" fame) on bass. As the album took shape, Steve Nieve was added back into the mix on keyboards. Elvis had more-or-less reconstituted "The Attractions" with Davey Faragher replacing Bruce Thomas, calling this edition "The Imposters".
"Oliver's Army" (1979) was the highest-charting single of the band's career, peaking at number two in Britain and number 4 in Ireland. Elvis and The Attractions were always an album band in the U.S., never cracking the top 100 on the singles charts.
"Armed Forces" (1979) was the most successful album of the band's career, reaching number two in Britain and number 10 in the U.S.
4) "This Year's Model" (1978), is the highest ranking album by Elvis (with or without The Attractions) on Rolling Stone magazine's "500 Greatest Albums" List, coming in at #98.
Nick Lowe, former Brinsley Schwarz bassist and recording artist, produced the first five albums by Elvis and The Attractions, beginning with "My Aim Is True" (1977) and ending with "Trust" (1981). He returned to produce "Blood and Chocolate" (1986). Lowe also wrote one of the band's most beloved song's, the anthemic "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding".
For more on Elvis Costello and The Attractions, see Elvis Costello.
For the latest on Elvis's great new music/interview show (where Attractions and Imposters abound), see Spectacle: Elvis Costello with....
Acclaimed Beatles engineer, Geoff Emerick, produced Imperial Bedroom (1982) and "All This Useless Beauty" (1996) - both lavishly produced, lushly arranged pop masterpieces.
Bruce Thomas' book, The Big Wheel, ostensibly a "fictionalized" account of a musician's boring, alcohol-fueled life on the road, was the final straw in an already tortured relationship between The Attractions' bass player and his boss - "the singer", as he christened Elvis in the book. Costello's response, on his next album, Mighty Like A Rose, was the bitter, angry song "How To Be Dumb".
In 1980, while Elvis presumably recharged his batteries, The Attractions recorded their own album, Mad About the Wrong Boy, with Bruce Thomas and Steve Nieve sharing lead vocals. It was never released in the U.S. and the French Demon CD reissue is now out of print, although occasional copies can still be found.
The Attractions were formed when Jake Riviera (who became Elvis's manager) placed an advert in Melody Maker, one of Britain's weekly music papers. The ad, seeking players for a band to back a Stiff Records singer/songwriter named Elvis Costello, promised "Funexcitementtravel".
Although Bruce Thomas, the band's bass player, was there to pose for pictures and accept the award, he was not invited to play onstage (as he and Elvis can't get along). Instead, Elvis performed with The Imposters.
Elvis Costello and The Attractions consisted of:
Elvis Costello - Vocals/Guitar (born August 25, 1954)
Steve Nieve - Keyboards (born February 19, 1960)
Bruce Thomas - Bass (born August 14, 1948)
Pete Thomas - Drums (born August 9, 1954)
Elvis: We had landed in the country ten days earlier. Fresh from a 15-hour journey from London via Los Angeles, we arrived in the Bay Area at mid-evening and were confronted by the unimaginable luxury of a Howard Johnson's motel. The rooms contained king-size beds, colour television, and a bathroom. Our English hotels of that time typically featured narrow bunks with scratchy nylon sheets, a faulty black-and-white TV in the "residents lounge", and a freezing trip down the threadbare carpet to a shared toilet at the end on a dingy corridor. In the words of Chuck Berry : "Everything you want, they got it right here in the U.S.A."
Elvis: The only structure that was not derelict doubled as the local dancehall. We were using it as a rehearsal room. In two days I would be playing in public for the first time with my new group, The Attractions.
The keyboard player (Steve Nieve), a 19-year-old student from the Royal College of Music, was easily the most impressive candidate at the auditions. He had asked to stay to hear the other players and later been discovered curled up asleep among the amplifiers, having quietly demolished a bottle of sweet cooking sherry. He was obviously the man for the job.
Pete Thomas: In 1977 I was living in Topanga Canyon, California. Elvis's
manager, Jake Riviera, came to LA with "The Damned". He played me EC's demos. It seemed like a good time to be in England so I went back and auditioned for EC with the other two Attractions who had answered ads in the Melody Maker. It seemed like we formed in a day.
Elvis: There would be times in the recording studio when we'd get stuck and no matter who we had in the studio, it would start to sound like a Tom Petty record or something; like a really good modern pop record with all the right sounds, but kind of flat.
(Elvis is asked if Bruce Thomas will play at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony)
Elvis: It's enough that the names of the original band members are on the roll of honor, or whatever you call it, because that really does celebrate the time when we were all on the same page about music and we were making great records together. I'm trying to be fair to our departed member - I don't mean departed, I mean estranged - because I have absolute respect for his playing on the records when he cared. He was certainly one of the best bass players around.
Bruce: It was always a bit intense with Elvis, because he's such an intensely demanding person - not just artistically, but personally.
Bruce: Well, I think Elvis always wanted guys who had never been in bands before -- he wanted punks. But the problem was they couldn't play his songs. Punk is a different sort of thrashing out, you know: one-chord, psycho riffs. You couldn't get Sid Vicious to play "Blame It on Cain," could you?
Elvis: Around 1978, every single we released in England was a hit. Recently, somewhere in a drawer, my mother found some old teen magazines with a picture of Debbie Harry from Blondie, a picture of Sting, and then there's a picture of me [laughs]. It was hard to take seriously when it was happening, because I just thought it was so absurd.
Elvis: I had already released my first album, and the record company said, "Now you have to go on tour." So they put together the Attractions through auditions. We were so lucky, because we could have had auditions for years and never stumbled onto guys that good.