My love for Elvis Costello knows no bounds, indeed, as recently reprinted on this very blog, my first review to appear in real print was a page of positive comment about 2003’s ‘North’, his almost jazzy ballads album. It’s very good, by the way, despite what some would have you believe. I’m a big fan of his spikey indie from the early days, I’m hugely taken with his erudite singer-songwriter phase that took him through most of the Eighties and Nineties and I’m really rather fond of his growing-old-not-so-graciously Noughties rock albums also. Last year’s ‘Secret, Profane And Sugarcane’ is still taking its time to win me over but it’ll probably get there soon enough, the vinyl pressing playing its part as always.
One of my absolute favourite Costello tracks is, perhaps, not the most obvious choice. ‘Spike’ is an album which divided critics and continues to be seen either as a wonderful collection of quirky songs or as a slightly self-indulgent attempt at a concept album of sorts. I just like it ‘cos it sounds good. Sorry about that. In particular, the song ‘Baby Plays Around’, which is one of the most charmingly beautiful things he’s ever written. There’s not much going on, but the vocal performance is simply perfect and the structure of the song captures the simplicity of pop done well almost effortlessly. Indeed, time for me to put across one of my bonkers theories. I’ve always though that a power-pop boy band could do an amazing energetic, hi-tempo version of this track and storm the charts. Imagine a Busted-type band, McFly, for example, doing this song in that sort of fashion and tell me you don’t think it would work. See, you can’t! I said can’t.
Anyway, rather than talk about hypothetical cover versions you can’t actually hear, I should just mention that this song also gave rise to a beautiful cover version by A Girl Called Eddy, whose stunning 2004 debut was very nearly one of the all important 40, and as she doesn’t look like releasing anything else anytime soon, we should cherish whatever we can get. Click below to launch this cover in not especially great quality on VerTube. Enjoy both versions, they’re ace.