Live at the El Mocambo is either one of the easiest bootlegs to find or one of the hardest to track
down releases from a major artist. Originally issued as a Canadian promotional
album, it quickly found its way on to the black market and became a fan
favorite. It got an official release in 1993 as part of the four-CD box set 2 ½
Years – or through a coupon that came with individual reissues of his first
three albums. While fans were happy to
have it, getting it required either dropping a bunch of cash or dealing with a
major hassle. From the opening notes, it’s clear why people went through so
much b.s. for this album.
Watching him today, it’s sometimes hard to remember that
Elvis Costello was once an angry young punk. This is a much-needed reminder.
Raw and passionate, this 1978 show features Costello at his most vital, running
through brand new songs at breakneck speed while exhorting the crowd to get off
its collective ass. Unfortunately, Universal hasn’t treated this with the care
it deserves. The packaging is minimal, as if this was still a radio promo
rather than a significant piece of rock history. The CD comes with no
background on the show, no essay on its meaning and no new photos. But that
can’t take away from the music or the hunger and energy you can practically
feel coming through the speakers. The reissue could have been done a lot
better, but it’s still a must have.
Standout Tracks: All of them! HAL BIENSTOCK