Friday, May 17, 2013

Elvis Costello & The Attractions, Nick Lowe & Rockpile, Mink DeVille; May 17th, 1978

Very few people know EXACTLY what they were doing 35 years ago today.  I do.  I was seeing Elvis Costello & the Attractions, Nick Lowe & Rockpile and Mink DeVille live in Cincinnatti, Ohio, on a gorgeous spring night and penning the review reproduced below. 

It's the best piece of rock & roll journalism I ever had published.  The magazine in question was called Focus, a local Columbus music rag.  Up to that point I had been publishing my own punk fanzine, Teenage Rampage, which, let's say, had a very limited press run & circulation.  If 300 people saw any one issue, I'd have been ecstatic, and surprised.  Focus - on the other hand - was hugely popular, free, and EVERYBODY in Columbus who was into music picked it up and read it.  By May 1978 my punk purist edge was gone, long gone.  I didn't want be a punk-rock music writer, I wanted to be a rock & roll music writer.  (Plus I wanted to hype the band I had going right at that moment - Ricki & The West Side Rockers.)

The editor of Focus at that point was a young woman named Kathy Reed.  She was great; she was 20-something, smart, funny, pretty, wore glasses and she KNEW HOW TO GET THINGS DONE.  (Unlike later Focus editors I worked for.)  I had done little reviews here & there that she had printed as letters to the editor but I wanted a shot at a byline review; hence the Costello/Lowe/Deville triple bill.  I went up to the paper's offices and proposed the following to Ms. Reed: She could send the resident punk & New Wave critics of Focus - Tony Rubin & Fred Brockman, by name - to cover the show and I'd pay my own way, write my own review and she could run whichever one was better.

Kathy laughed at my impertinence there in the office - she had been reading Teenage Rampage, I think she expected some safety-pin & Mohawk punk-rocker when I turned up rather than the long-haired West Sider I was (see photo below) - but we shook on the deal.

I wrote some of the review before my buddies and I even got to the show, finished it in the car on the way home from Cincinnatti and had the review double-spaced typed and ready to go on Kathy's desk the next afternoon.

Rubin & Brockman never stood a chance.

(employ your zoom feature, friends & neighbors)

Ricki C., sometime in May, 1978

© 2013 Ricki C.


  1. Great account - I've shared it with some Elvis Costello fans -,_May_1978 - John Foyle, Dublin, Ireland

  2. John - Thanks for reading, and even more thanks for spreading the gospel of Elvis C. and the rock & roll. (That was such a great show. Somewhere way back at the beginning of the blog there's a list of my top ten live shows of all time - The Best Of Everything, January 2012 - this one was certainly in there.)

    Have you ever read Will Birch's No Sleep Till Canvey Island? That's a book that deserves a blog entry all its own, but it costs like 55 bucks on Amazon, so I don't wanna tease readers by talking it up and recommending it. Great read, though.

    The top two places on this planet I've never gotten to visit in this life of rock & roll: Ireland and Paris, France. Hope to make it over there someday.