Self-named after his paternal grandmother and the King of Rock, Elvis Costello burst onto the music scene in 1977 with My Aim is True—an LP that garnered only moderate commercial success but also contained two of his most beloved singles, “Watching the Detectives” and “Alison,” and firmly implanted him in the bitter hearts of post-punk new wavers. Following it up with the hook-laden “Pump it Up,” the anti-corporate “Radio Radio” and the superbly layered “Oliver’s Army” in ’78 and ’79, Costello proved himself not only an accomplished musician, but an exceptionally literate lyricist who never shied away from a good rant. Dipping into country, reggae, and hooking up with everyone from Burt Bacharach to George Jones during the following years, Costello’s pub rock parlayed itself into any setting and any musical palette. Finally hitting the American Top 20 in 1989 with “Veronica,” a tune co-written by Paul McCartney, Costello continued to produce albums each year and even dipped his loafers into classical music and Gershwin-esque show tunes. His latest, Secret, Profane and Sugarcane (released earlier this year), takes the flitting Costello back to his beloved country-folk muse and some exquisite harmonizing with Emmylou Harris and Loretta Lynn. Like many of his other works, the record is a bit all over the place, but true to Costello’s form, wherever he takes you is where you’ll want to be.
Elvis Costello and the Imposters at Agua Caliente Casino and Resort Spa, 32-250 Bob Hope Dr., Rancho Mirage, (866) 923-7244. www.hotwatercasino.com. Fri., July 10, 9PM. $65-$125.