Elvis Costello: Wave a White Flag (demo 1976)

 |   |  1 min read

Elvis Costello: Wave a White Flag (demo 1976)

When Elvis Costello was an aspiring singer-songwriter, desperate to get a foothold and using the name DP Costello, he was fronting the pub-rock band Flip City.

But he was also recording his own songs at home and passing these demos to (the now late) Charlie Gillett who hosted the Honky Tonk radio show.

This song was the first of those that Gillett played and it's intersting for two reasons: it is a dark and uncomfortable song about violence towards a partner ("when I hit the bottle, there's no tellin' what I'll do, 'cause something deep inside me wants to turn you black and blue") but it is set to an almost jaunty ragtime rhythm which shows that even then -- his dad was a danceband leader -- the young angry punk/New Wave figure was already thinking outside the box.

This song has turned up on expanded reissues of Costello's My Aim is True.

Charlie_Gilletts_Rad_383_383But it has also reappared on  the excellent, diverse 25-song collection Charlie Gillett's Radio Picks; Honky Tonk Volume 2 (Ace through Border) alongsde classics like Billy Swann's I Can Help, Roy Buchanan's Sweet Dreams, Irma Thomas' Ruler of My Heart, Dr John's Such A Night and Professor Longhair's Tipitina.

There are also some real obscurities on the album so doubtless From the Vaults will explore this one again in the future.

Meantime here's mean spirited DP Costello with a confessional . . . which he makes sound almost fun.

There is a considerable amount of Elvis Costllo - including interviews, overviews and album reviews -- at Elsewhere starting here

For more one-off, oddities or songs with an interesting backstory see From the Vaults.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Bill Haley and the Comets: Thirteen Women (1954)

Bill Haley and the Comets: Thirteen Women (1954)

Talking to Memphis writer Robert Gordon recently about his forthcoming -- and excellent -- book on the famous Stax recording studio in his hometown, I was reminded of just how often hit songs were... > Read more

Jerry Lee Lewis: The Return of Jerry Lee (1958)

Jerry Lee Lewis: The Return of Jerry Lee (1958)

When Jerry Lee Lewis arrived in Britain in May 1958 the rock'n'roll crown was his for the taking. He was the wildman at the piano with crazy stacked-up hair, had delivered seminal, sweat-inducing... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Hobotalk: Homesick for Nowhere (Yellow Eye)

Hobotalk: Homesick for Nowhere (Yellow Eye)

The Scottish singer-songwriter Marc Pilley who is the hub of Hobotalk has a gentle way with his music: nothing feels forced or false, and the augmentation of his simple tunes by mandolin, violin,... > Read more

THE RELIGION OF RUGBY (2006): Ballet, with a point

THE RELIGION OF RUGBY (2006): Ballet, with a point

The dinner party in a smart Auckland suburb in 2006 was thick with well-travelled intelligence: journalists, writers, academics, IT innovators and taste-makers from television and student radio.... > Read more