As with “My Aim Is True,” I didn’t really experience this album until years after it came out in 1978. If I wouldn’t have been ready for what I heard on “Aim,” I would definitely not have been ready for this — which is harder-edged, faster, angrier. Although I got to know the singles when I got the “Best Of” collection on CD in 1985, I didn’t have this as an album until albums were going on clearance at the end of the ‘80s, and probably almost never played it because I had most of what I wanted to hear on CD.So again, I don’t much of a relationship with a record despite having owned it for 40 years or so now.
But I liked this little story I first found on Wikipedia, written by Chris Gabrin, the photographer who took this extremely iconic cover shot.
“By the time I took this picture (for the cover of Elvis Costello’s second album, released in 1978) I had already photographed Elvis a dozen or more times. As his career took off I watched his confidence in front of the camera grow. In those days every single had a picture sleeve, so by the time this album came, we had done several sleeves together and Elvis was relaxed when working with me. Apart from my assistant, there were just the two of us. The concept of him behind a camera for the sleeve of This Years Model had already been chosen, so I decided to equip Elvis with exactly the same tripod and camera as I was using to create a ‘mirror’ for him.
Alongside a powerful stereo I kept a large record collection at my Camden Studio, and artists would choose music they enjoyed or were interested in for their sessions. Just as we were about to start shooting, Elvis asked me if I had Hotel California by The Eagles, and could I play it? I was puzzled by his choice – until he told me that he loathed the record, but wanted to look really pissed off and angry in the shots!”
What was I listening to in 1978? “Hotel California,” duh.