Tag Archives: My Aim Is True

My Aim Is True

22 Jul

On this day in 1977, Elvis Costello’s audacious debut My Aim Is True was released by Stiff Records and if the music was ahead of its time, so was the design and marketing.

Elvis Costello dartboard (pic credit Dick Wingate)

A dartboard produced by CBS to promote the album in the US

Except from Be Stiff:

If one record perfectly encapsulated the ethos of Stiff Records, it is My Aim Is True. Combining Barney Bubbles’ iconic designs, Riviera’s ingenious marketing slogans, Stiff’s irreverence and a unique artist, it did what the major labels had failed to do for years. It acknowledged that music fans deserved better and tapped into Britain’s deep-rooted culture of buying and collecting records. The Stiff template had been created and the bar set high.

Photographer Chris Gabrin had produced the black and white shots that had adorned the sleeves of ‘Less Than Zero’ and ‘Alison‘. However, it was Keith Morris who was invited to do the shoot for the album under Barney Bubbles’ direction. Bubbles reportedly threw Elvis Presley-like shapes around the room as the other Elvis struck a variety of poses against a pale backdrop. A picture of awkwardness in a jacket, open-neck shirt and tie, turned-up jeans, and National Health glasses, Costello was a geek years before it was chic. A vibrant yellow screen was placed over him for the initial run of 10,000, ensuring it would stand out in the racks and window displays of record shops. Then, when the album began to catch fire, Stiff made a discovery that would result in a collector’s dream. Riviera had gone with Bubbles to oversee the first run and found out that using different coloured inks wouldn’t cost more. He then demanded that every run of 5,000 copies be printed in a different colour.

Costello poster

Landmark gig for Elvis

15 Jul

extras pics

Elvis Costello and his newly-assembled group decamped from London to Cornwall in the summer of 1977 to rehearse and play a few low-key gigs. Their first public appearance came at The Garden in Penzance on Thursday 14 July, supporting US trash punk outfit Wayne County & The Electric Chairs. Admission for what would prove a landmark occasion was £1. The following night they played at Woods Leisure Centre in Plymouth, a gig which was reviewed by Record Mirror, and they also played a set at Davidstow Village Hall, a former Nissen hut.  During their week-long sojourn to the west country, they also spent a day in a small studio and re-recorded My Aim Is True. Stiff’s plan was to release this version after the initial pressing recorded with Clover had sold out, although this idea was eventually abandoned.