Trust (Elvis Costello album)

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Studio album by
ReleasedJanuary 23, 1981
RecordedOctober–November 1980
GenreNew wave
LabelF-Beat (UK)
Columbia (US)
Demon/Rykodisc (29 April 1994 Reissue)
Rhino (9 September 2003 Reissue)
Hip-O (1 May 2007 Reissue)
ProducerNick Lowe, Roger Bechirian
Elvis Costello and the Attractions chronology
Ten Bloody Marys & Ten How's Your Fathers
Almost Blue

Trust is an album by Elvis Costello and the Attractions. It is Costello's fifth album, and fourth with the Attractions. It was also his fifth consecutive album produced by Nick Lowe, who handled production on all songs except "Big Sister's Clothes" (which the liner notes make clear by stating that Lowe was "not to blame" for it).


Costello's original intent with Trust was to cross the melody of Armed Forces with the rhythm of Get Happy!! The songs on the album dealt with a general sense of disenchantment he felt during the time, with the recent election of the Conservative government as well as tensions within his first marriage, which gave them an overall cynical tone.[1] As a result, the general lyrical content of the songs describe a world that is essentially the opposite of what the album title implies. Earlier working titles were "Cats and Dogs" and "More Songs About Fucking and Fighting".

The initial recording sessions were held at DJM Studios in London, but they were displeased with the results. It did not help that the bandmates were almost constantly under the influence of mood-altering drugs.[1] As Costello wrote in the liner notes of the Rhino reissue:

Recording resumed at Eden Studios, where previous albums had been done. Although the band was no more sober, the resulting tracks were more to Costello's liking. Despite having previously expressed a desire to distance himself from the pop music mainstream, Costello revealed that a number of songs on the album were influenced by other contemporary artists. Specifically, "Clubland" incorporated the guitar style of the Police, "You'll Never Be A Man" borrowed from the Pretenders, "White Knuckles" was modelled on XTC records, and "Fish 'n' Chip Paper" was an homage to Squeeze. Lastly, "Big Sister's Clothes" had a bass line based on work by the Clash.[1]

According to AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Trust was conceived as "a stylistic tour de force", with examples of diverse styles on the record being the Bo Diddley beat on "Lovers' Walk", the jazz elements to "Clubland", the soul pop of "Watch Your Step", the "rockabilly redux" of "Luxembourg", the Tin Pan Alley-style pop of "Shot with His Own Gun", the country-styled "Different Finger" and the "more complex arrangements and musicianship" that accompany "White Knuckles" and "New Lace Sleeves".[2]

Commercially, none of the singles on Trust entered the British top 40, the first time this had happened since My Aim Is True, his debut album. "Clubland" was a minor chart hit at # 60.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[2]
Blender5/5 stars[3]
Chicago Tribune3/4 stars[4]
Entertainment WeeklyA[5]
Mojo4/5 stars[6]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[7]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide5/5 stars[8]
Uncut5/5 stars[10]
The Village VoiceA[11]

Contemporary reviews for Trust were positive. In a 4/5 star review for Rolling Stone, Ken Tucker wrote "from the Elvis Presley-style echoes of "Luxembourg" to the duet that Costello sings with Squeeze's Glenn Tilbrook. In "From a Whisper to a Scream," Costello's sour croon and Tilbrook's sweet moan swoop and dive around each other in joyous comradeship".[12] Rolling Stone later revised the album, giving it a 5 star rating.[13] It was ranked at #7 among the top ten "Albums of the Year" for 1981 by NME.[14] Robert Christgau of the Village Voice gave it an A, and wrote "this is rock and roll as eloquent, hard-hitting pop, and Elvis has turned into such a soul man that I no longer wish he'd change his name to George and go country".[15]

Retrospectively, Trust has received acclaim from music critics, and has been often cited as one of Costello's best, as well as most underrated works. Stephen Thomas Erlewine, writing for AllMusic, rated it 5/5 stars and called it "arguably, their most impressive album, one that demonstrates all sides of Costello's songwriting and performing personality without succumbing to pretentiousness".[16] On the 30th anniversary of the album's release, Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone named it Costello's best album, writing "it's never been one of his most famous albums, but it's his funniest, his wisest, and his most rocking." [17] Speaking of the album, Costello said "That's a record that falls between the cracks a little bit" and I think it has one of the greatest Attractions performances, 'New Lace Sleeves.'"[17]

In popular culture[edit]

The album is mentioned in Bret Easton Ellis' novel Less Than Zero, which also takes its name from one of Costello's songs.[18]

LP track listing[edit]

All songs written by Elvis Costello except as indicated.

Side one[edit]

  1. "Clubland" – 3:42
  2. "Lover's Walk" – 2:17
  3. "You'll Never Be a Man" – 2:56
  4. "Pretty Words" – 3:11
  5. "Strict Time" – 2:40
  6. "Luxembourg" – 2:26
  7. "Watch Your Step" – 2:57

Side two[edit]

  1. "New Lace Sleeves" – 3:45
  2. "From a Whisper to a Scream" – 2:54
  3. "Different Finger" – 1:58
  4. "White Knuckles" – 3:47
  5. "Shot with His Own Gun" – 3:30
  6. "Fish 'n' Chip Paper" – 2:55
  7. "Big Sister's Clothes" – 2:11

CD reissue bonus tracks (1994 Rykodisc)[edit]

  1. "Black Sails in the Sunset" [Alternate Mix] – 2:56
  2. "Big Sister" – 2:11
  3. "Sad About Girls" (Steve Nieve as "Norman Brain", Fay Hart) – 2:48
  4. "Twenty-Five to Twelve" – 3:52
  5. "Love for Sale" (Cole Porter) – 3:02
  6. "Weeper's Dream" – 1:05
  7. "Gloomy Sunday" (Sam M. Lewis, Rezső Seress) – 3:13
  8. "Boy with a Problem" (solo demo version) (Costello, Chris Difford) – 2:31
  9. "Seconds of Pleasure" (Version 1 of 'Invisible Man') – 3:18
  • "Black Sails in the Sunset" is presented here in a previously unreleased alternate mix that runs 13 seconds shorter and fades out earlier than the original b-side version.[19]

Bonus disc (2003 Rhino)[edit]


  1. "Black Sails in the Sunset" – 3:09
  2. "Big Sister" – 2:17
  3. "Twenty-Five to Twelve" – 4:05
  4. "Sad About Girls" (Brain, Hart) – 2:49
  5. "From a Whisper to a Scream" (Alternate version) – 3:27
  6. "Watch Your Step" (Alternate version) – 2:47
  7. "Clubland" (Alternate take) – 4:03
  8. "You'll Never be a Man" (Alternate take) – 3:10
  9. "Slow Down" (Larry Williams) – 2:24
  10. "Big Sister" (Alternate version) – 5:07
  11. "Black Sails in the Sunset" (Alternate version) – 3:07
  12. "Hoover Factory" (Alternate version) – 1:47
  13. "Love for Sale" (Porter) – 3:04
  14. "Boy with a Problem" (Single version) (Costello, Difford) – 2:33
  15. "Weeper's Dream" – 1:07
  16. "Gloomy Sunday" (Lewis, Seress) – 3:15
  17. "The Long Honeymoon" (Instrumental piano demo) – 1:41

The Rykodisc version has the original tracks and bonus tracks on one CD. The Rhino version has two CDs with the original tracks on the first CD.


  • Elvis Costello – vocals, guitars, all instruments on "Big Sister's Clothes"
The Attractions
Additional personnel
  • Neill King - production assistance
  • Greg Allen - art direction, design
  • Keith Morris, Paul Cox - photography



Year Chart Position
1981 Billboard Pop Albums 28
Year Song Chart Position
1981 "From a Whisper to a Scream" Billboard Mainstream Rock 46


  1. ^ a b c d Trust (Inset). Elvis Costello and the Attractions. USA: Rhino Entertainment. 2003. R2 73909.CS1 maint: others (link)
  2. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Trust – Elvis Costello / Elvis Costello & the Attractions". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  3. ^ Harrison, Andrew. "Elvis Costello: (various reissues)". Blender. Archived from the original on 24 October 2004. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  4. ^ Kot, Greg (2 June 1991). "The Sounds Of Elvis, From San Francisco And Beyond". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  5. ^ White, Armond (10 May 1991). "Elvis Costello's albums". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  6. ^ Doyle, Tom (November 2018). "Band Substance". Mojo (300): 59.
  7. ^ Tucker, Ken (2 April 1981). "Elvis Costello: Trust". Rolling Stone (340). Archived from the original on 21 April 2008. Retrieved 4 April 2006.
  8. ^ Sheffield, Rob (2004). "Elvis Costello". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). London: Fireside Books. pp. 193–95. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
  9. ^ Collis, Clark (June 1994). "Elvis Costello and the Attractions: Get Happy / Trust". Select (49): 92.
  10. ^ Wilde, Jon (October 2003). "High fidelity". Uncut (77): 132–33.
  11. ^ Christgau, Robert (2 March 1981). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
  12. ^ "Elvis Costello Trust Album Review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  13. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian David (1 January 2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7432-0169-8.
  14. ^ "Albums and Tracks of the Year". NME. 2016. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  15. ^ "Robert Christgau: CG: Elvis Costello and the Attractions". Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  16. ^ "Trust - Elvis Costello,Elvis Costello & the Attractions | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  17. ^ a b
  18. ^ Easton Ellis, Brett (1985). Less Than Zero. New York: Picador. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-330-53932-6.
  19. ^
  20. ^