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Elvis Costello – My Aim is True (1977)

March 19, 2015

[Album 385/1001]

The story of Target’s failed expansion to Canada will be taught in business classes for years to come.

Up until 2013, Canadians flocked south of the border, their sights set on the retailer with the Bulls-eye logo.

Why?  From what I’d been told, “Target, it’s like Walmart – but awesome!”

So when Canadians learned Target was buying the leasehold agreements to 100+ Zellers stores (like Walmart – but smaller & more expensive), expectations were high.

Alas, those expectations were never realized.

The typical Canadian Target shopper review?  “It’s like Zellers – but bigger.”

The staffing did not seem to be an issue but everything else from inventory management, ineffective promotions, confusing co-branding (with premium-priced Starbucks), and the online experience all seemed to miss the mark.

Perhaps fittingly, even Target’s liquidation sales were miles from a direct hit: Canadian customers didn’t really agree that ‘10% off’ qualified as an everything-must-go discount.

Whatever Target was aiming for in Canada, they misfired badly.

.

His aim may be true, but did Elvis Costello have better accuracy?220px-MyAim_isTrue

Like Target’s foray into Canada, I’d argue he didn’t have any direct bulls-eyes.

Fortunately for Costello, the similarities end there.

With the 13 tunes on my version of My Aim is True, he’s on the dartboard every time, typically inside the inner ring.

None of the songs necessarily merit a 10 out of 10 individually, but each of the tracks should be classified in the 7-9 range.

String a baker’s dozen of songs like that together, it makes for a nice package.

Interestingly, it feels like the order of the songs could be shuffled around and the overall impact would be unchanged.  In that sense, this is an album that feels like a compilation.  That doesn’t make it any better or worse, more just surprising as I’m typically an ardent believer in meticulously designed running orders.

Costello’s on the 1001 list a bunch of times, sometimes as a performer (I liked This Year’s Model) and other times as a producer (I liked Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash even more).  I’d place My Aim is True somewhere between the two, a solid A- record nestled between a B and an A.

All marks that would certainly be more ‘fridge material’ than those found on Target’s Canadian report card.

Finally, when it comes to wooing Canadians, he’s had much better luck than Target in that department as well: I know Mr. Costello better as Mr. Diana Krall.

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From → 1970s

20 Comments
  1. Zellers reminded me of being a kid. Scouring the toy section for GI Joe and Megatron. Target didn’t carry any memories for me, but worse they didn’t carry any Target exclusive CDS up here that I know of. I still had to find US Target exclusives on eBay.

    Elvis > Target!

  2. Geoff, my man, I humbly and respectfully disagree with no tens on this record- Alison is a solid “10” – a beautifully crafted punk/country song about lost love – there are few better. And I also disagree with the the “greatest hits” feel of the record – except to say that debut records (when good) are typically like this – you are taking the artists best work to this point in their life and songs make it for merit instead of flow—if it fails, there is no next one!!!

    This one did not fall and is one of my all time favorites (hence the passion) –

    I agree – Target in Canada does not seem right—–like a Tim Hortons here in the U.S.A. – That doughnut and coffee tastes better in the great white north!

    • Wayne – that’s the beauty of our countries and our blog forums: we’re lucky enough to be allowed to disagree and respectful enough to do so well, respectfully!
      Nice point about the make or break nature of that first record, it might have been Costello who was one of the singers who said you get a lifetime to make your first record, 6 months to make your 2nd!
      From what I gather, Tim Hortons is named “Tim Hortons cafe & bake shop” in the USA, seemed like an odd attempt at going up-scale.
      But most importantly, I look forward to your eventual review of My Aim is True!

  3. I enjoyed your review, but disagree – Alison is a 10/10 for me, easily.

    • I think I’m stingy with 10s too – I had Alison somewhere in the neighborhood of an 8.5, so hardly a failure either!

      • Im a sucker for really bitter songs. ‘I know you’re loving somebody/ but it isn’t mine’…

      • As am I – that line reminds me of good one I was listening to today off Fisherman’s Blues, You’re looking for somebody but he isn’t me

  4. Hackskeptic permalink

    It’s certainly not his best, but it’s a solid start.

  5. Nah, I disagree with Hackskeptic. It’s his best. He’ll get a better band shortly – he sounds like he’s fronting a bar band right now, but never will he reachieve such melodic thought and lyrical wonder.

    • Interesting you mention the band sound – I preferred the more guitar emphasis on this one, felt it drifted a bit too keyboard-heavy on its followup

      • Yeah, but Steve Nieve is one of the better keyboardists in rock history. Every member of the Attractions is better than the guys who play here; if you have the expanded edition, when “Watching the Detective” hits, that’s clear as day.

      • That sounds promising – his 1979 album’s on the list, I’d imagine Nieve’s on the keyboard there too

      • yeah, it is. a lot more than on Model. (and even more on Get Happy!!!)

  6. Never been much of a Costello fan, but recently I’ve been reassessing my stance. My brother’s a huge fan and he likes this one a lot. Between the two of you, I might just be sold!

  7. Throwing in for this one–it’s a gem. Every song on side 2 is an almost-ten.

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