Thursday Inspiration #188 Pump It Up

Respond to this challenge, by either by using the prompt word heaven, or going with the above picture, or by means of the song ‘Pump It Up’, or by going with another song by Elvis Costello, or anything else that you think fits.  This song was released as the second single on his 1978 second album This Year’s Model.  The single hit #24 on the UK Singles Chart.  Elvis Costello wrote this on the fire escape at a Newcastle hotel upon Tyne during the Stiff Records’ 1977 tour.  Costello signed to the Stiff record label and set off with his new backing band, the Attractions, on the Live Stiffs tour with labelmates Nick Lowe, Wreckless Eric and Ian Dury and the Blockheads.  The tour became infamous for its sex, drugs and rock’n’roll excess and at the time he was upset that his road-mates were taking the sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll philosophy rather too literally.  This song is said to be a riposte to hard living, and it is often mistaken as an anthem to celebrating the joys of indulgence.  Costello took some gin, some tonic, some blue pills, and a red pen after he was exposed to idiotic rock and roll decadence, which he thought he was above and beyond, but he quickly found it easier to indulge than to sit in judgment.

This is one of Costello’s best-known songs and ‘Pump It Up’ contains high octane lyrics that are pure sexual frustration mixed with outspoken energy.  This song is pretty much just about giving in to the flow and having fun.  He says to pump up the music loud enough so it can be felt, but he doesn’t really need it.  He is frustrated because he doesn’t understand what is going on with this girl in his life.  He can’t control his urges for this woman she’s like a narcotic.  Elvis Costello and the Attractions were the biggest draw on the 1977 Stiff Records a package bus tour of the UK that acted as a showcase for the provocative label.  He had to compete with Ian Dury and the Blockheads for star billing as their anthem ‘Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll’ was the obvious choice to close each show.  ‘Pump It Up’ was his answer as Costello endured, rather than enjoyed, the Stiff tour.

Declan Patrick MacManus who is better known as Elvis Costello formed the Attractions in 1977 and they played punk and new wave music.  The group consisted of Elvis on guitar, and vocals and it also contained Steve Nieve on keyboards, Pete Thomas on drums, and Bruce Thomas (no relation) on bass.  This lineup became his permanent backing band and Costello recorded and toured solidly with them until 1984, when he disbanded them to pursue solo projects.  He reconvened the band for one-off albums and tours over the following decade, particularly from 1994 through 1996.  Steve Nieve played a Vox Continental organ on this song, drawing on the music of the past to find their own sound.  Costello’s guitar part delivers the majority of the song’s punk-energy and sound, while Bruce Thomas’ bass line carries an infectious groove.  Elvis Costello & The Attractions were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.

Down in the pleasure center, hell-bent or heaven sent
Listen to the propaganda, listen to the latest slander
There’s nothing underhand that she wouldn’t understand

19 thoughts on “Thursday Inspiration #188 Pump It Up

  1. I’ve been a fan of Elvis (no, not that one) since his early days and he’s still releasing great albums to this day. This cover version was recorded by Flip City, Costello was in this band before signing to Stiff Records.

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  2. Elvis has a great body of work. I saw Dylan at the Ryman and out come Elvis Costello and played a complete set…it shocked everyone because Elvis wasn’t on the bill.

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