My Aim Is True

My Aim Is True
My Aim Is True
Studio album by Elvis Costello
Released July 22, 1977 (UK)
March 1978 (U.S.)
Recorded Pathway Studios, London, 1976–1977
Genre Pub rock, new wave, punk rock
Length 32:56
Label Stiff (UK)
Columbia (U.S.)
Demon/Rykodisc (October 19, 1993 Reissue)
Rhino (August 11, 2001 Reissue)
Hip-O (2007 Reissue)
Producer Nick Lowe
Elvis Costello chronology
My Aim Is True
This Year's Model
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[1]
BBC (very favourable)[2]
Pitchfork Media (9.8/10.0)[3]
Robert Christgau (B+)[4]
Rolling Stone (positive)[5]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars[6]
Sputnikmusic 5/5 stars[7]
Wiki letter w.svg This table needs to be expanded using prose. See the guideline for more information.

My Aim Is True is the debut album by Elvis Costello.

The album was recorded at Pathway Studios in Holloway, London Borough of Islington, over the course of 1976 during late-night studio sessions, in a total of twenty-four hours. It was the first of five straight Costello albums produced by Nick Lowe.

The musicians who were featured on the album were uncredited on the original release (due to contractual difficulties), although the backing band was made up of members of the band Clover.

In 2003, the TV network VH1 named My Aim Is True the 80th greatest album of all time. In 2003, the album was ranked number 168 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[8] In 2004, it was ranked 37 of the top 100 albums of the 1970s by Pitchfork Media which reported the album to be "held by many as the most impressive debut in pop music history."[9]

On November 8, 2007, Costello reunited with the members of Clover from the original recording sessions to perform the songs from My Aim Is True for the first time ever in public at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. The event was a benefit for the Richard de Lone Special Housing Fund, which assists those with Prader-Willi Syndrome.



Costello (born Declan MacManus) had been performing in clubs and pubs in Liverpool and London since 1970 and had created some demo tapes, but he had had little success in obtaining a recording contract. When Stiff Records was founded in 1976, Costello submitted his demos there and found some interest, but initially they wanted him as a songwriter for Dave Edmunds. Edmunds, however, was reluctant, so the company had Costello and Clover re-record some of his songs, with Lowe producing, to try and persuade him. The new recordings were good enough on their own for Stiff Records to abandon that idea.[10]

The label then suggested that he share a debut album with Wreckless Eric, but Costello had written enough songs, most of them at home late at night so as not to wake his wife and young son or on the Underground while commuting to work, to have an entire album of his own.[10] Costello called in sick to his day job (as a data-entry clerk) in order to rehearse and record the album with Clover, which was cut in a series of six four-hour sessions for about £1,000.

Costello stayed at his day job as the first two singles, "Less Than Zero" and "Alison", were pre-released without much success. Finally, the label decided to release the album in the summer of 1977, and he was asked to quit his job and become a professional musician. Stiff Records would match his office wages and gave him a record advance of £150, an amp, and a tape recorder.[10] Three weeks after its release, Costello was on the cover of a music paper. He described this situation as being "an overnight success after seven years."[10]

Packaging and artwork

The album cover was designed by Barney Bubbles, who was uncredited on the album sleeve. The cover art features rows of tiny black and white checks (surrounding the photo of Costello) on which the phrase "Elvis Is King" is written. Costello's pose on the cover would become an iconic look for him, with the Buddy Holly glasses and the knees bent inwards together. He struck a similar pose in the photo on the back of the original sleeve.

Initially, the LP cover had a black & white photo on the front, and a yellow back. The first 1000 UK copies also came with a form asking the buyer to send in the address of a friend, who would then receive a free copy. The form was titled: HELP US HYPE ELVIS. The free copies that were sent out in response to returned forms were customised with a large special sticker. The form and the sticker were also designed by Barney Bubbles. First pressings came with writings on the dead wax with on the A side "Elvis is King" and "Porky Prime Cut" and on the B side "on this side too" and "porky prime cut too". Early issues were also printed with many different coloured backs. Later issues then had a green tint on the front picture and a green back. The Demon re-issue originally had a yellow tint on the photo and a yellow back, and the reissue has a green tint photo.

Track listing

All songs written by Elvis Costello unless otherwise indicated.

Side one
  1. "Welcome to the Working Week" – 1:22
  2. "Miracle Man" – 3:31
  3. "No Dancing" – 2:39
  4. "Blame It on Cain" – 2:49
  5. "Alison" – 3:21
  6. "Sneaky Feelings" – 2:09
Side two
  1. "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes" – 2:47
  2. "Less Than Zero" – 3:15
  3. "Mystery Dance" – 1:38
  4. "Pay It Back" – 2:33
  5. "I'm Not Angry" – 2:57
  6. "Waiting for the End of the World" – 3:22
  • Tracklisting notes: "Watching the Detectives", which was released in the UK as a single in October 1977, was not on the original UK release of the album, but was added to the U.S. release as the last track on side one.
Bonus tracks (1993 Rykodisc)
  1. "Watching the Detectives" – 3:45
  2. "Radio Sweetheart" – 2:25
  3. "Stranger in the House" – 3:01
  4. "Imagination (Is a Powerful Deceiver)" – 3:38
  5. "Mystery Dance" (Demo version) – 2:13
  6. "Cheap Reward" (Demo version) – 2:15
  7. "Jump Up" (Demo version) – 2:06
  8. "Wave a White Flag" (Demo version) – 1:53
  9. "Blame It on Cain" (Demo version) – 3:30
  10. "Poison Moon" (Demo version) – 1:53
  • Tracklisting notes: The Rykodisc reissue placed "Watching the Detectives" after a 5-second silence following "Waiting for the End of the World."
Bonus Disc (2001 Rhino)
  1. "No Action" (Early version) – 2:15
  2. "Living in Paradise" (Early version) – 3:00
  3. "Radio Sweetheart" – 2:31
  4. "Stranger in the House" – 3:04
  5. "I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself" (Burt Bacharach, Hal David) (from Live Stiffs) – 2:27
  6. "Less Than Zero" (Dallas version) (from Live at the El Mocambo) – 4:19
  7. "Imagination (Is a Powerful Deceiver)" – 3:39
  8. "Mystery Dance" (Demo version) – 2:15
  9. "Cheap Reward (Demo version) – 2:18
  10. "Jump Up" (Demo version) – 2:09
  11. "Wave a White Flag" (Demo version) – 1:59
  12. "Blame It on Cain" (Demo version) – 3:34
  13. "Poison Moon" (Demo version) – 1:53
Track Listing (2007 Deluxe Edition Hip-O)

Disc 1:

  1. "Welcome To The Working Week"
  2. "Miracle Man"
  3. "No Dancing"
  4. "Blame It On Cain"
  5. "Alison"
  6. "Sneaky Feelings"
  7. "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes"
  8. "Less Than Zero"
  9. "Mystery Dance"
  10. "Pay It Back"
  11. "I'm Not Angry"
  12. "Waiting For The End Of The World"
  13. "Watching The Detectives"
  14. "No Action" (early version)
  15. "Living In Paradise" (early version)
  16. "Radio Sweetheart"
  17. "Stranger In The House"
  18. "Welcome To The Working Week" (Pathway Studios demo)
  19. "Blue Minute" (Pathway Studios demo)
  20. "Miracle Man" (Pathway Studios demo)
  21. "Waiting For The End Of The World" (Pathway Studios demo)
  22. "Call On Me" (Pathway Studios demo)
  23. "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes" (Pathway Studios demo)
  24. "I Don't Want To Go Home" (Pathway Studios demo)
  25. "I Hear A Melody" (Pathway Studios demo)

Disc 2: Elvis Costello & the Attractions: Live at The Nashville Rooms - August 7, 1977

  1. Introduction by Dave Robinson
  2. "Welcome To The Working Week"
  3. "Blame It On Cain"
  4. "No Dancing"
  5. "Waiting For The End Of The World"
  6. "Night Rally"
  7. "Hoover Factory"
  8. "No Action"
  9. "(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea"
  10. "Miracle Man"
  11. "The Beat"
  12. "Less Than Zero"
  13. "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes"
  14. "Lipstick Vogue"
  15. "Watching The Detectives"
  16. "Lip Service"
  17. "Mystery Dance"
  18. "Alison"
  19. "Pay It Back" (soundcheck)
  20. "Radio Sweetheart" (soundcheck)
  21. "Sneaky Feelings" (soundcheck)
  22. "Crawling In The USA" (soundcheck)
  23. "Alison" (soundcheck)

Note: The Rykodisc version has the original tracks and bonus tracks on one CD. The Rhino version has two CDs with the original tracks on the first CD. The Hip-O version has the original tracks and bonus tracks on the first CD and a recording of a 1977 concert on the second.



Chart positions

Chart Position
Australian Albums Chart[11] 25
Canadian Albums Chart[12] 24
New Zealand Albums Chart [13] 32
Swedish Albums Chart[14] 14
UK Albums Chart [15] 14
United States Billboard 200[16] 32


Region Certification Sales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada)[17] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[18] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[19] Platinum 1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. My Aim Is True at Allmusic. Retrieved 2 Jun 2005.
  2. ^ Smith, Sid (2007-09-18). "Elvis Costello - My Aim Is True > Review". BBC. Retrieved 7 Jul 2008. 
  3. ^ LeMay, Matt (May 20, 2002). "Elvis Costello My Aim Is True > Album Review". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 20 Jun 2005. 
  4. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Elvis Costello: My Aim Is True > Consumer Guide Review". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 25 Apr 2006. 
  5. ^ Marcus, Greil (December 1, 1977). "Elvis Costello My Aim Is True > Album Review". Rolling Stone (253). Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  6. ^ Bresnick, Adam (August 16, 2001). "Elvis Costello My Aim Is True > Album Review". Rolling Stone (875). Retrieved 25 Apr 2006. 
  7. ^ Fisher, Tyler (July 20, 2007). "Elvis Costello My Aim Is True > Review". Sputnik Music. Retrieved 7 Jul 2008. 
  8. ^ Levy, Joe; Steven Van Zandt (2006) [2005]. "168 | My Aim is True - Elvis Costello". Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (3rd ed.). London: Turnaround. ISBN 1932958614. OCLC 70672814. Retrieved 14 May 2009. 
  9. ^ Ott, Chris (June 23, 2004). "037: Elvis Costello My Aim Is True". Top 100 Albums of the 1970s Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 11 Aug 2011. 
  10. ^ a b c d (2001) Album notes for My Aim Is True by Elvis Costello [Inset]. USA: Rhino Entertainment (R2 74285).
  11. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  12. ^ Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 2011-10-24
  13. ^ " - Elvis Costello - My Aim Is True" (ASP). Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 2011-10-23. 
  14. ^ " Elvis Costello - My Aim Is True" (in Swedish) (ASP). Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved 2011-09-18. 
  15. ^ "Chart Stats - Elvis Costello - My Aim Is True". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 2011-10-23. 
  16. ^ Allmusic - Elvis Costello > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums
  17. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Elvis Costello – My Aim Is True". Music Canada. 
  18. ^ "British album certifications – Elvis Costello – My Aim Is True". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter My Aim Is True in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go
  19. ^ "American album certifications – Elvis Costello – My Aim Is True". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH

External links

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