Why is Elvis Costello’s My Aim Is True on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
I’m not gonna get too sentimental like those other sticky valentines.
Some stats & info about Elvis Costello – My Aim Is True
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? British Bands, Rock Music, New Wave, Pub Rock
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – #430
- All Music’s rating – 5 out of 5 stars
- When was My Aim Is True released? 1977
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #637 out of 1,000
Elvis Costello’s My Aim Is True on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.
What does Elvis Costello’s My Aim Is True mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
I enjoy creating all kinds of Spotify playlists and often give them silly titles. One playlist title that I’m particularly proud of is a collection of 1980s songs. I titled it “San Junipero,” based on the brilliant Black Mirror episode that (mostly… sort of?) takes place during that decade. Other examples are “Don Draper’s Lounge” and “Shaolin Nation.”
A playlist that I call “The Power Rankings” includes almost 2,000 songs right now, and the very first album that I added to it is, lo and behold, My Aim Is True. I’ll usually listen to the playlist on shuffle mode, but while I’m toggling that mode on, I’ll always listen to a little bit of the album’s first track, “Welcome to the Working Week.” Or, most of it really, as it only runs a minute and change.
It’s such a pleasing blast of upbeat new wave-meets-pub rock, and there’s something about the song title and chorus that helps to ease me into whatever activity I’m about to take on.
“Watching the Detectives,” with its reggae-inflected new wave and odd sensibility, feels like it would absolutely not work for any artist except Costello. But it does work: it’s great, especially as it builds its own strange momentum. All the great Elvis Costello songs flow along with a confident, narrative energy and “Watching the Detectives” is a perfect example of this.
“Miracle Man” starts off with a Rolling Stones-esque blues rock vibe before sliding into a great Costello in full on pub rocking mode. To imagine catching Costello at a tiny venue back in the day… that must have been something.
Pop culture stuff that has something to do with Elvis Costello’s My Aim Is True
I’ve taken issue a number of times with Stephen Thomas Erlwine of All Music, and I’ll do so again here! Erlwine contends that My Aim Is True is a “punk rock record” due to its “pure nastiness and cynical humor” and its “blend of classicist sensibilities and cleverness.”
While Wikipedia isn’t the definitive arbiter here, it has a decent definition of punk rock bands:
They typically produced short, fast-paced songs with hard-edged melodies and singing styles, stripped-down instrumentation, and often shouted political, anti-establishment lyrics. Punk embraces a DIY ethic; many bands self-produce recordings and distribute them through independent record labels.
I would add that punk rock almost always has an inherent aggressive sound, in addition to “hard-edged melodies and singing styles,” and is often though not always based in relatively simple chord progressions.
Based on Wikipedia and my own addendums, I’m going to go ahead and state that My Aim Is True is not a punk rock record. At all.
It very much has the flavorings of new wave music but mostly it’s just a great rock ‘n roll record with Costello’s particular and impressive refinements and sensibilities.
Thank you for attending this session of, “Is this punk rock or no?”