Defend The Indefensible: Elvis Costello's "No Action"

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This tepid, rhythmically challenged warmed-over garage band rehash is a poor excuse for an opening number, nearly derailing his intriguing sophomore album before it gets out out of the gate. He would do the same thing much better when he really hit his stride a few albums later with Get Happy!!!.

The Day The World Turned Dayglo Redd (Ken L), Saturday, 1 April 2006 12:46 (fifteen years ago) link

wait till you hear the rhumba remake!

m coleman (lovebug starski), Saturday, 1 April 2006 12:58 (fifteen years ago) link

And another thing: what the heck is a "baker's light"?

The Day The World Turned Dayglo Redd (Ken L), Saturday, 1 April 2006 13:00 (fifteen years ago) link

a pun on bakelite?

Bakelite is a synthetic resin chemically formulated and named after its Belgian inventor, Chemist L.H.Baekeland c.1909. It is pronounced "Bay Ka Lite". Originally it was used for molding items that were previously done of celluloid or hard rubber. One of the original uses was for pool balls. It is collectible in all its forms including jewelry, buttons, radio cases, lamps, dresser sets and many more items. It was used commercially for parts especially in electrical wiring. After bakelite and the introduction of so many other plastics and composition materials it was easy to confuse them all. People began to lump all plastics into one generic term "Bakelite".

m coleman (lovebug starski), Saturday, 1 April 2006 13:02 (fifteen years ago) link

yeah I just checked the lyrics, he's referring to a plastic phone!

a literary-minded critic might consider this an example of using an anachronism because it sounds "poetic" or maybe just cuz it rhymes

m coleman (lovebug starski), Saturday, 1 April 2006 13:05 (fifteen years ago) link

His greatest album opener.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Saturday, 1 April 2006 13:08 (fifteen years ago) link

Alfred, this thread is about "No Action," not "Accidents Will Happen."

Matthew C Perpetua (inca), Saturday, 1 April 2006 14:07 (fifteen years ago) link

Nor Brilliant Mistake

kornrulez6969 (TCBeing), Saturday, 1 April 2006 14:16 (fifteen years ago) link

I love this song.

Alex in Baltimore (Alex in Baltimore), Saturday, 1 April 2006 14:28 (fifteen years ago) link

I love this song as well!. Would never have thought to call it tepid.

And I like how it's a bit off-kilter rhythmically. It lends the song a jittery, nervous, "can fall apart at any moment" quality that fits well with agitated mental state Elvis's lyrics convey.

D. Bachyrycz, Saturday, 1 April 2006 14:47 (fifteen years ago) link

yeah i think this is great too!

s1ocki (slutsky), Saturday, 1 April 2006 15:44 (fifteen years ago) link

it never occurred to me that someone could dislike this song! I think it's a great opener for this album, in fact, one of his best openers ever

kyle (akmonday), Saturday, 1 April 2006 15:49 (fifteen years ago) link

In what possible way is this "rythmically challenged" Ken? The Attractions were a very tight band (moreso than Clover) and you know this yourself. Pete Thomas is totally great on this track. That little ride lick he does in the second verse?! Awesome!

Anyway, great song and great album. It needs no defending.

Keith C (lync0), Saturday, 1 April 2006 15:55 (fifteen years ago) link

P03: Elvis Costello Album Openers

Brilliant Mistake
No Action
Clubland

kornrulez6969 (TCBeing), Saturday, 1 April 2006 16:09 (fifteen years ago) link

Re: Pete Thomas

Am I wrong in rating him as one of the greatest of all rock drummers?

And "No Action": unassailable

Taylor, Saturday, 1 April 2006 16:13 (fifteen years ago) link

This thread title crashed my computer. It's illogical factor stretched the boundaries of spacetime and almost zeroed out my hard drive. But Pete Thomas saved it!

sleeve, away, Saturday, 1 April 2006 17:27 (fifteen years ago) link

Seriously, this song is fantastic. One of my favorite Costello tunes.

Is this an April fools' joke?

Steev (Steev), Saturday, 1 April 2006 17:33 (fifteen years ago) link

well, i don't really see how it's tepid or rhythmically challenged, but whatever. it's an odd song to have a problem with. why don't you complain about some of his more recent stuff, that truly is boring?

speaking of which, the album he just put out of orchestral versions of some of his more well known songs? anyone heard it? opinions? we have it at my radio station and i haven't had a chance to have a listen.

Emily B (Emily B), Saturday, 1 April 2006 19:48 (fifteen years ago) link

I've ripped this song off at least 4 times.

Eppy (Eppy), Saturday, 1 April 2006 20:00 (fifteen years ago) link

Is this an April fools' joke?

http://www.chucklebuckle.com/goofy%20fellow_small2.png

m coleman (lovebug starski), Saturday, 1 April 2006 20:12 (fifteen years ago) link

I must join the choir in declaring this song excellent. Might I also heartily recommend the demo version found as a bonus track on the My Aim is True reissue. They recorded it right after they did "Watching the Detectives," and just left on that same drum sound. What I like even more than the drum sound is the actual drum 'part'--it's basically all fills all the way through! Listen:
http://d63.yousendit.com/E/25RD4ME4U3WVK13ZTVCAMENA7T/14%20No%20Action%20(Demo).mp3

gooblar (gooblar), Saturday, 1 April 2006 20:24 (fifteen years ago) link

Doh!

Try this.

gooblar (gooblar), Saturday, 1 April 2006 20:25 (fifteen years ago) link

Yeah, I'm real good at this. Here:
http://s63.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=25RD4ME4U3WVK13ZTVCAMENA7T

gooblar (gooblar), Saturday, 1 April 2006 20:26 (fifteen years ago) link

xpost Emily B: I've only heard the (jazz) orchestral version of "Watching the Detectives," and, I have to say, it's fucking awful.

gooblar (gooblar), Saturday, 1 April 2006 20:30 (fifteen years ago) link

there's good schmaltz, and there's bad schmaltz. a pity that he can't always tell the difference. sigh.

Emily B (Emily B), Saturday, 1 April 2006 20:36 (fifteen years ago) link

This thread title = WTF?!?!?!?!?!!!?!?!!?!?11?!!?!?!!?11???////11/1/11/?!!?!?!?!?11?1/1!?1?1!?/1/!?1?/1!!!?1!!?!!?

righteousmaelstrom (righteousmaelstrom), Sunday, 2 April 2006 07:23 (fifteen years ago) link

this song is great! especially the way he sings "EVERY time i PHONE YOU, i just wanna PUTCHUDOOOOOOWN" at the end. so paranoid and scary.

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Sunday, 2 April 2006 07:47 (fifteen years ago) link

Is this an April fools' joke?
Aloha, suckers.

The Day The World Turned Dayglo Redd (Ken L), Sunday, 2 April 2006 10:09 (fifteen years ago) link

BTW, pretty much everybody OTM.

The Day The World Turned Dayglo Redd (Ken L), Sunday, 2 April 2006 10:33 (fifteen years ago) link

nice...'tepid' should have been the tip-off

Keith C (lync0), Sunday, 2 April 2006 12:41 (fifteen years ago) link

hahaha!

s1ocki (slutsky), Sunday, 2 April 2006 14:18 (fifteen years ago) link

Better than anything he's done in, what, the past quarter century? Yeah, probably. At least.

xhuxk, Sunday, 2 April 2006 18:20 (fifteen years ago) link

five years pass...

Happy Anniversary.

Singularities Going Steady (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 1 April 2012 20:54 (nine years ago) link

seven years pass...
four months pass...

Hm, Spotify just told me this was one of my favorite albums.

Lipstick Traces (on a Cigarette Alone) (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 6 March 2020 00:41 (one year ago) link

Can't believe it was never mentioned here, but apropos of Kim Shattuck's passing last year, The Muffs did a ferocious cover.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31EKxbyx3Os

Bougy! Bougie! Bougé! (Eliza D.), Friday, 6 March 2020 01:13 (one year ago) link

Heard about that somewhere else, on social media.

Lipstick Traces (on a Cigarette Alone) (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 6 March 2020 02:18 (one year ago) link

three weeks pass...

Every time I Zoom you

Three Hundred Pounds of Almond Joy (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 1 April 2020 13:15 (one year ago) link

And if you had told me a few weeks ago I would be sitting in my bedroom watching Steve Nieve and his wife live streaming from their living room I would have expected you to say...

Three Hundred Pounds of Almond Joy (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 1 April 2020 18:35 (one year ago) link

lol I hadn't seen this thread before and it totally got me

J. Sam, Wednesday, 1 April 2020 18:38 (one year ago) link

three months pass...

Also, too bad those lemonade ads of his dad went missing.

Two Spocks Clash (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 2 July 2020 22:08 (one year ago) link

And this, which I will replace, now with commentary from you-know-who:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=az0HdhdqfNs

Two Spocks Clash (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 2 July 2020 22:12 (one year ago) link

This one is new:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxkGwcHD9hI

Two Spocks Clash (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 2 July 2020 22:13 (one year ago) link

The Secret Lemonade Drinker plus some Britishes children's animated character I am unfamiliar with:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o77C9epx-VM

Two Spocks Clash (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 2 July 2020 22:15 (one year ago) link

lol i've never seen the mr benn version

mark s, Thursday, 2 July 2020 22:29 (one year ago) link

v deep cut, only one series, 13 eps 1971-72

mark s, Thursday, 2 July 2020 22:31 (one year ago) link

Seems there were books before the BBC version.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mr_Benn

Two Spocks Clash (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 4 July 2020 14:42 (one year ago) link

Here is the "Watching the Detectives" session demo version of this song mentioned upthread:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTSZUw8PTy8

Two Spocks Clash (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 4 July 2020 14:46 (one year ago) link

So is that Steve Goulding on drums? Anyway, boy does that underscore what an incredible band the Attractions were. They brought so many ideas and so much personality.

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 4 July 2020 15:00 (one year ago) link

Yes, Steve Goulding on drums and Andrew Bodnar on bass.

Two Spocks Clash (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 4 July 2020 15:34 (one year ago) link

still the most baffling 'indefensible' thread on ILM, 'no action' is one of Costello's greatest songs.

akm, Saturday, 4 July 2020 15:45 (one year ago) link

very bizarre claim at top of thread that the Attractions had a bad rhythm section

I always thought the thread was a joke thread.

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 4 July 2020 16:26 (one year ago) link

A fantastically sequenced album from start to finish, No Action is perfect, w the actual f

PaulTMA, Saturday, 4 July 2020 17:10 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

Watched the RRHOF induction recently. Shocked and stunned.

Isinglass Ponys (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 28 August 2020 13:25 (eleven months ago) link

Of EC & the Attractions. SIr Elton's speech was good, Elvis's too. The bad energy with Bruce Thomas made the skin crawl. Then the Imposters played instead of the Atttractions.

Isinglass Ponys (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 28 August 2020 13:28 (eleven months ago) link

The demo version posted a little ways up sounds like Buddy Holly.

TO BE A JAZZ SINGER YOU HAVE TO BE ABLE TO SCAT (Jazzbo), Friday, 28 August 2020 13:29 (eleven months ago) link

That makes me think I would like to hear EC and Richard Thompson do "Learning the Game."

Two Little Hit Parades (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 28 August 2020 13:34 (eleven months ago) link

It's really quite remarkable when you compare his demos to the band versions how many of his early songs are relatively early rock and roll simple, in terms of chords and whatnot. Early Beatles, Buddy Holly or whomever. The band brings so much.

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 28 August 2020 13:36 (eleven months ago) link

Yeah, trying to think of a comparable matchup, coming up with lint.

Two Little Hit Parades (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 28 August 2020 13:58 (eleven months ago) link

ten months pass...

is there a more wrong thread title/opening post than this on ILX?

akm, Monday, 19 July 2021 19:45 (one week ago) link

It was an April Fool, as the OP eventually confirms.

mike t-diva, Monday, 19 July 2021 19:55 (one week ago) link

So Nina Diaz singer/guitarist of Girl in a Coma is gonna do the Spanish language version

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 21 July 2021 15:48 (one week ago) link

Good, bad or otherwise...this is so very true.

“Initially I was just sort of shocked,” Krys says, remembering his reaction when Costello brought the concept to him. “And then I started thinking about it. One of the things I’ve always loved about Elvis as an artist is that he really follows the music and not necessarily what people expect."

earlnash, Wednesday, 21 July 2021 15:54 (one week ago) link


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