A FEW years ago, Elvis Costello declared an ongoing fondness for U2. By way of explanation, Costello outlined his admiration for U2’s ability to forge intimacy and emotional connection even in the Enormo-Domes and Mega-Bowls that constitute their tour schedules. At stadium level now, Costello observed, “everything else is bullshit, or a trip to the circus.”
They look, famously, on the cover of last year’s Tonight At The Arizona album, like the wayward off-spring of The Band, with whose songs and music their own colourful excursions into the hinterlands of ‘the old, weird America’, as essayed by Bob and The Band on The Basement Tapes, are frequently compared.
You might remember that last week’s playlist contained a Mystery Record, sternly embargoed and so on by the record company, thoroughly underwhelming to listen to. A few of you had a decent stab at guessing the high-security identity of the artist(s), suggesting I was sat on new MP3s by The Verve, Bob Dylan produced by Rick Rubin, Paul McCartney, David Bowie, The Wu-Tang Clan, Blur, Oasis, Ride, Guns N’ Roses, Prince, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Kraftwerk or Rage Against The Machine.
After my first thoughts on “Stay Positive”, we’re continuing to unpick a record that I’m now suspecting is The Hold Steady’s masterpiece. Allan has been even more dedicated in the pursuit of meaning than I have, assiduously studying John Cassavetes’ “Opening Night”, since Craig Finn mentioned that it had a critical influence on his lyrics, most explicitly in "Slapped Actress".