It was a really weird time. Of the previous 72 hours, I had spent 8 asleep
and 64 drinking heavily
. I was depressed beyond belief and slightly psychotic. I had just filmed a low-budget documentary
(a whole other story). I had utterly failed to sleep with my drinking partner
(the whole point of the binge). I was still obsessed with my ex-girlfriend
The three-day binge ended with an intervention from a friend who picked me up in a pub, fed me and brought me home. We watched some films - a really bad Altman-esque film that almost put me to sleep. Then we watched Nigel Winterbottom's film "I Want You". Maybe it was the drink and sleep deprivation, but Rachel Weisz looked and acted exactly like the girl I had just broken up with.
In the middle of the film, there was a scene where her ex-boyfriend hires a stripper who looks a little like her, and gets her to dance to Elvis Costello's "I Want You". As she dances, he sits there drinking, barely looking at her, just listening to the song as it plays on a crappy, tinny tape recorder. For me, it was like staring in a mirror.
At the end of the film, I realised that every single word of the lyrics had been burned into my brain. I felt like a heroin addict - I had to own that song or I'd die. The next morning, I went into Virgin as soon as it opened and bought a copy of Blood And Chocolate. It stayed in my CD player for months.
It's a pretty intense album, that was recorded under pretty intense circumstances. Tensions were running high after the difficult recording sessions for King Of America and The Attractions were barely on speaking terms. The album was whacked out in a short space of time; that, along with Nick Lowe's production, gives it a gritty feeling, almost like a collection of demos than a proper studio album.
It starts off with Elvis Costello's attempt at a one-chord rock song, "Uncomplicated". It's short, sharp and paranoid, leading perfectly into the rest of the album. "Tokyo Storm Warning" is the first epic - a seven minute stream of lyrics reminiscent of "Subterranean Homesick Blues".
Almost the entire album is about failed and screwed-up love, climaxing at track five - Costello's masterpiece, "I Want You". It's a freaky song, a perfect exploration of unrequited lust, walking the thin line between love and stalking.
It isn't all doom and gloom though. "Crimes of Paris" is a sweet, jaunty tune, while the 50s rock of "Are You Straight or Are You Blind" offsets the mood of "I Want You".
NME rated this in the top 60 of their 100 greatest albums ever. I'd put it in my top 5. Something you must own.
- I Hope You're Happy Now
- Tokyo Storm Warning
- Home Is Anywhere You Hang Your Head
- I Want You
- Are You Straight Or Are You Blind?
- Blue Chair
- Battered Old Bird
- Crimes Of Paris
- Poor Napoleon
- Next Time Round
Bonus tracks on re-release CD:
- Seven Day Weekend (With Jimmy Cliff)
- Forgive Her Anything
- Blue Chair (Single Version)
- Baby's Got A Brand New Hairdo
- American Without Tears No.2 (Twilight Version)
- A Town Called Big Nothing
- Really Big Nothing