Song Of The Day 10/6/2016: Elvis Costello & the Attractions – “The Only Flame In Town”

Nested discreetly as an Easter egg on my copy of the DVD The Right Spectacle: The Very Best of Elvis Costello - The Videos (to this day the only music video DVD I've ever purchased with real money) (the rest I stole off hijacked trucks) is this never-broadcast promo clip for Elvis' 1984 single "The Only Flame In Town." The official concept video, which featured a self-effacing appearance by backup singer Daryl Hall, was adorable and presumably aired on MTV. But before that version hit the streets, apparently there was some discussion in Camp Declan about shaking up Elvis' presence, which resulted in the first-draft video you now see.

The gimmick? Elvis took off his glasses. More than that, in the opening seconds of this video they get stepped on and broken. That was pretty much it. As an act of spectacle removal it didn't quite rank up there with Elton John's drastic act of 1978, but back then Elton's outlandish pieces of eyewear were superstars in and of themselves and almost as bitchy. I don't think any of Elvis Costello's fans gave his glasses a second thought, even though his record label made him wear Buddy Holly glasses for much the same reason Elton started wearing glasses: so he'd look different. ("Like Superman in reverse," Costello wrote.) He'd switched from the plastic frames to metal ones for the cover of Punch the Clock, but the more dramatic move of eschewing glasses altogether never saw the light of day until the DVD release. I suppose it was too radical for his fan base to accept. This is what music writers think about when the light grows dim, cupcake.

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