I LOVE THE SMELL OF PUNK IN THE MORNING:” RADIO RADIO”- ELVIS COSTELLO AND THE ATTRACTIONS

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I Love The Smell of Punk In The Morning- “Radio Radio”- Elvis Costello & The Attractions. “Radio Radio” was the final song on the second Elvis Costello album “This Years Model.” It was first written in 1974 as “Radio Soul” and had a positive view towards the radio but by 1978 the focus of the song had changed into a negative one due to the increasing commercialization of FM radio stations.

The first thing many people think of about “Radio Radio” is the infamous Saturday Night Live appearance on December 17, 1977 of  Elvis as a last minute replacement for The Sex Pistols. I will attach the following story from Songfacts- concerning the controversy-

 

On December 17, 1977, Elvis Costello & the Attractions appeared on Saturday Night Live as last minute replacements for the Sex Pistols, whose various criminal records had made getting visas in time difficult.

At the urging of his record label, Costello was slated to play his current UK single “Less Than Zero,” a song about a British politician named Oswald Mosley. Costello launched into a few bars of “Less Than Zero,” but then turned to his backing band and told them to stop. He then apologized to the live audience, saying, “I’m sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but there’s no reason to do this song here,” and broke into a full rendition of “Radio Radio,” which had not yet been released.

Costello was banned from Saturday Night Live. It is often reported that the corporate brass at NBC (which owned radio properties) objected to the lyrics of “Radio Radio,” but it was really because Costello went off-script, and such antics throw the show into turmoil since it’s a live production.

Costello’s ban was lifted in 1989 when he returned as musical guest, performing “Veronica” and “Let Him Dangle” without incident. His 1977 act of defiance became part of Saturday Night Live lore, and is often recounted in retrospectives of the show’s history. On Saturday Night Live’s 25th anniversary show in 1999, Costello parodied the incident when he interrupted the Beastie Boys while they were playing (appropriately) “Sabotage,” leading them in a full version of “Radio Radio.”

Costello later claimed that his act of subversion was inspired by Jimi Hendrix, who in 1969 stopped a performance of “Hey Joe” on the show Happening for Lulu and launched into the Cream song “Sunshine Of Your Love,” earning him a ban from the BBC.

 

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