Friday, November 18, 2005

Book review: Complicated Shadows: The Life and Music of Elvis Costello by Graeme Thompson

The chameleon of British rock and roll, Elvis Costello is the subject of this biography, tracing his roots from the show bands of his father to the pub rock of his youth and then finally to his fateful breakout in 1977 with his band The Attractions. Costello became the enfant terrible of pop music and brilliant albums and the requisite tales of rock and roll debauchery followed. Thompson recalls details of the antics best he can, as he didn't have access to Costello in the writing of this book, and had to rely on the accounts of others and the media.

Costello is one of the few rock musicians who became more interesting as he grew older and more mature. His interests grew to include country music, standards of the 30's and 40's and rhythm and blues all of which he incorporated in his music. His career and life have had their ups and downs as Thompson chronicles, but this biography comes at an interesting time in Costello's career. Now in his 50's and no longer the young punk, he's putting out some of the best music of his career and showing no sign of slowing down. An interesting if trashy biography.

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