He had begun writing his own material and was endeavoring to develop an original style.The first wave of punk records by the Sex Pistols, the Clash and the Damned helped sharpen his sensibility, and his debut single (“Less Than Zero”) reflected an anti-fascistic, angry-young-man outlook.An ambitious, theatrical world tour (“Costello Sings Again”) found Costello backed both by the Confederates (his American band) and the Attractions.
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(1981), the fifth consecutive studio album produced by Nick Lowe and fourth with the Attractions, who executed some fine ensemble playing on Costello’s most mature album to date.
That same year, Costello also released , an album of favorite country tunes cut with legendary Nashville producer Billy Sherrill.
The conflict inherent in Costello’s songwriting manifested in reality when he made a regrettable offhand remark about Ray Charles as a way of outraging some American musicians with whom he was drunkenly feuding at a hotel bar during the 1979 Armed Forces tour.
Abashed by the ensuing controversy, Costello—an R&B fanatic who had steadfastly agitated against racism in song and deed—publicly apologized and privately reconsidered the image that had formed around him, exacerbated by the rigors of constant touring.
It was appended to the American edition of the album, which appeared late in 1977.