Last week marked the fortieth anniversary of the release of the album Trust by Elvis Costello and The Attractions. It was the last in a string of five remarkable Costello albums produced by Nick Lowe, going back to My Aim is True, his debut. It was a transitional album, one that primarily featured the new wave rock for which he was best known but also foreshadowed the upcoming forays into Country & Western and Popular music that became staples of his broadened repertoire in the 1980s and beyond. And it is personally significant for me as the album that introduced me to Costello and began my enduring appreciation for his work.
While I had a passing awareness of Costello in the late 1970s and knew a couple of his songs, back then I thought of him mostly as the angry English guy with the old-fashioned, chunky, black glasses. At the start, I was drawn to Trust not by Costello but by Glenn Tilbrook‘s vocals on the song From a Whisper to a Scream. (I’d been a big fan of Squeeze from the moment I first heard the song If I Didn’t Love You on the radio.) It was July 1981 when I really got into From a Whisper to a Scream, which led me to discovering the rest of Trust, and from there, immersion in Costello’s back catalog. In the summer of 1983, I saw him perform live for the first time, in concert with The Attractions on a Hudson River pier in Manhattan, touring in support of Punch the Clock (confession: not one of my favorite Costello albums). He wore red shoes.
One sign of my affection for Trust is that it’s one of the few albums I own in both LP and CD formats. I think I used to own it on prerecorded cassette, too, but I’m not sure, as I said farewell to my cassette collection several years ago and I can no longer recall everything I purchased in the Columbia House-fueled buying binges of my college years. It remains one of my favorite Costello albums, and while I don’t like all of its songs, several — Clubland, Watch Your Step, Different Finger, Shot With His Own Gun, and yes, From a Whisper to a Scream — fill me with the same joy and energy today that they did when I was a teenager.