Pay It Back (\)
Label: UMe/Elvis Costello
During the era of arena rock domination, arty American punks, and scabby British gobbers, Elvis Costello delivered this brilliant debut record, marking the arrival of a distinct and original talent. While he sounds like a part of the English back-to-basics pub rock movement, Costello brought a literate "revenge of the nerd" punk contempt to his songs. "Less Than Zero," "I'm Not Angry," and "Pay It Back" are all just as good as the album's cherished "Alison" and "Watching the Detectives." What really set this debut apart was that he showed that new wave/punk/whatever wasn't just about fashion and style -- at the center of it all was a major singer-songwriter. And yes, Huey Lewis' old backing band Clover sounds great.