Elvis Costello & Rusty: The Resurrection of Rust — Early signs of genius

Album review: Even before 1977, Costello’s talent as a songwriter is evident

The Resurrection of Rust
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Artist: Elvis Costello & Rusty
Genre: Roots
Label: EMI/Universal

“Nostalgic” isn’t the first word that springs to mind when you look at the always forward-thinking career of Elvis Costello, but if this latest addition to his catalogue can tell you anything about the man it is that he knows how to occasionally throw a good curveball. Following 2021′s remake, entirely in Spanish, of his second album, 1978′s This Year’s Model (and not forgetting this year’s back-to-Attractions-like-basics album, The Boy Named If, he once again directs his attention towards the past.

This time, however, it’s before the stage name “Elvis Costello” and before NME headlines that positioned him as “the bug-eyed monster from Planet Guilt and Revenge”. One of then Declan MacManus’s first musical outings, playing in and around Liverpool in 1972-1973, was Rusty, a scruffy if ambitious duo (with fellow Liverpudlian singer and songwriter Allen Mayes) that for the purposes of this album has reconvened. The compact record features a mix of covers (based on the style of material that Costello would later draw from, including Van Morrison, The Band and Randy Newman) and originals Warm House (Americana meets The Hollies) and Maureen & Sam (a loose blueprint for what was to come when Costello moved to London in 1973).

We know what happened next, but The Resurrection of Rust is an intriguing glimpse at the formative years of one of rock music’s most prolific and resourceful scallywags.


Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in popular culture