(This page covers Elvis Costello as a solo artist, with The Attractions, and as The Imposter)

Elvis Costello OBE (born Declan Patrick MacManus; 25 August 1954) is an English singer-songwriter. He began his career as part of London's pub rock scene in the early 1970s and later became associated with the first wave of the British Punk & New Wave movement of the mid-to-late 1970s. His critically acclaimed debut album, My Aim Is True, was recorded in 1976. Shortly after recording his first album he formed The Attractions as his backing band. His second album, This Year's Model, was released in 1978, and was ranked number 11 by Rolling Stone on its list of the best albums of the period 1967-1987. Costello and The Attractions toured and recorded together for the better part of a decade, though differences between them caused a split by 1986. Much of Costello's work since has been as a solo artist, though reunions with members of The Attractions have been credited to the group over the years. (Read more at Wikipedia.)

Links to Peel

When Peel joined Radio 1 in 1967, Elvis Costello's father Ross McManus [1] was a regular on the Friday lunchtime Joe Loss Show, a Light Programme show which continued into the early years of the new pop station. McManus's job was to sing cover versions of current hits, although it's not known whether he sang on the dance-band versions of "Purple Haze" and "See Emily Play" which the DJ recalled with such distaste. However Ross McManus did inspire his son's choice of stage name, as one of the many aliases under which he recorded was Day Costello.

Having assumed his new name, Elvis Costello soon became far more famous than his father, with Peel's help. The DJ regularly played tracks from Costello’s first four albums – including the whole of ‘This Year’s Model’ over two nights in March 1978 – coinciding with the musician’s four sessions for the show. The first of these was notable for featuring material from ‘My Aim Is True’ with backing by the Attractions, who had not been on Costello’s debut album.

In 1979, Costello produced the first LP by the Specials, played extensively by Peel, and three years later co-wrote and produced Robert Wyatt’s ‘Shipbuilding’, which was voted #2 in the 1982 Festive Fifty; the following year, the DJ voiced his pleasure when Costello’s own version placed #48 in the show’s annual listeners' chart. The same 1983 Festive Fifty also contained ‘Pills and Soap,’ played by Peel on its initial single release by Costello under the name The Imposter.

Following Peel's death, Costello paid tribute to the DJ and showed that he had been a Peel listener: *Peel was the contradiction of every bad thing you could say about radio. He had an open mind about music, whether he was bringing the listener the Incredible String Band or the Fall, Mike Hart or Echo & The Bunnymen. and countless bands that appeared only to be heard on his great shows."[2] He called the DJ "a great man, a fabulous killjoy - he was as rare as the music that he loved." [3]

Festive Fifty Entries

Elvis Costello - I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down (Extended) (1980 2013) (HD)

Elvis Costello - I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down (Extended) (1980 2013) (HD)


Four sessions. Official releases:
- 'Stranger In The House' from #3 on This Year's Model CD reissue, 2002 (Edsel Records MANUS 102)
-'High Fidelity' from #4 on Various Artists: Kats Karavan: The History Of John Peel On The Radio 4xCD, 2009 (Universal ‎271 415-1)
As well as playing on all four Elvis Costello sessions as one of the Attractions, bassist Bruce Thomas previously recorded three sessions with Quiver, as well as two with Sutherland Brothers & Quiver.

1. Recorded 1977-07-25. First broadcast 01 August 1977. Repeated 17 August 1977, 28 December 1977, 26 May 1980, 04 August 1980, 04 November 1986.

  • Red Shoes / Less Than Zero / Mystery Dance / Blame It On Cain

2. Recorded 1978-03-13. First broadcast 20 March 1978. Repeated 10 April 1978, 01 May 1978, 14 August 1978, 01 January 1979, 23 September 1986.

  • (I Don't Wanna Go To) Chelsea / The Beat / Pump It Up / You Belong To Me

3. Recorded: 1978-10-23. First broadcast 30 October 1978. Repeated 15 November 1978, 10 January 1979.

  • Really Mystified / Radio Radio / (I Just) Don't Know What To Do With Myself / Stranger In The House

4. Recorded 1980-02-25. First broadcast 03 March 1980. Repeated 24 March 1980, 05 May 1980, 24 June 1980, 23 December 1980.

  • High Fidelity / Possession / Beaten To The Punch / B Movie

Other Shows Played

(The following list was compiled only from the database of this site, Lorcan's Tracklistings Archive, and Ken Garner’s Peel Sessions (pg217-9). Please add more information if known.)

  • 30 May 1983 (as The Imposter): Pills and Soap (7") Imp IMP 001
  • 05 June 1983 (BFBS) (as The Imposter):: Pills And Soap (7") Imp IMP 001
  • 28 July 1983: Shipbuilding (album - Punch The Clock) F-Beat
  • 21 December 1983: (JP: 'This is at 48, and another one I was very pleased to see in there, I must say.') Shipbuilding (LP-Punch The Clock) F-Beat FF#48
  • 27 December 1983: Pills And Soap (LP-Punch The Clock) F-Beat FF#24 (as The Imposter)
  • 20 October 1986: I Want You (7") Imp (Kershaw sitting in for Peel)
  • 05 November 1986: I Hope You're Happy Now (7" - I Want You) Imp (Kershaw sitting in for Peel)
  • 23 December 1986: I Want You (LP-Blood And Chocolate) Demon FF#40 (JP: “Actually, I can't imagine why I didn't play that at all. Very foolish: I can't have listened to it properly, I think.”)
  • 23 February 1992 JP: "Elvis Costello said something very wise on Desert Island Discs today: “Sometimes it seems that music doesn’t have a place in the music industry plans" … I know what he means."
  • 12 May 1995: Leave My Kitten Alone (CD-Kojak Variety) Warner Bros

Top Of The Pops


  1. Ross McManus had a long career at the BBC; according to BBC Genome[1], he first appeared on the Light Programme with Joe Loss and his Orchestra in 1955, and his final appearance was on a Night Ride in the week beginning 19 March 1972.

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