Thirty years ago this year Elvis Costello released his first album, My Aim is True. He later went on to play with the Attractions, but on this first album he was backed by a bunch of Americans - a band called Clover.
Clover was a California country-rock band from the Bay Area that was plucked out of near-obscurity by Nick Lowe and his manager Jake Riviera and brought over to England, where they made two records for Phonogram. And remained in obscurity. Clover unfortunately suffered from poor timing: no sooner had their plane landed in England when the Sex Pistols burst on the scene, obliterating the demand for the pub rock they played.
After a while Clover gave up, disbanded, and went home. Clover had several drummers over the years, and they all moved on to other things. Bassist John Ciambotti became a chiropractor. Lead singer Alex Call went on to record a few solo albums and pen some notable hits. Guitarist John McFee joined the Doobie Brothers, where he still plays today. And keyboardist Sean Hopper, along with singer/harpist Huey Louis (as he was then known), went on to form Huey Lewis and the News.
But before all that happened the future Elvis Costello was spending his time working in the computer operations department of a cosmetics producer and hustling his demo tapes. Eventually Nick Lowe and Jake Riviera took a chance on him, and Elvis started taking sick days to go down to the studio to record his album.
Through the Lowe/Riviera connection Elvis ended up recording it with Clover, who were then being passed off under the feeble alias "The Shamrocks" due to their lack of proper UK working papers. As a result of the legal issues Elvis Costello and Clover never appeared on a stage together. That is, not until this past Thursday night.
Read part II.