Friday Night is Music Night (A good year for the roses edition)
In 1981 Elvis Costello released Almost Blue, an album of country music cover songs written by the likes of Hank Williams ("Why Don't You Love Me (Like You Used To Do?)"), Merle Haggard ("Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down") and Gram Parsons ("How Much I Lied"). The album was a tribute to the country music he had grown up listening to, especially, George Jones. Some avid fans dismissed the album because it was inconsistent with earlier recordings. It was not a country-rock album (a la The Byrds or Eagles), which might have been more palatable to his established audience and to reviewers, but rather an undiluted country album. It received mixed reviews, some of which accused Costello of growing soft. Perhaps in anticipation of the inevitable accusations of apostasy, the first pressings of the record in the UK bore a sticker with the message: "WARNING: This album contains country & western music and may cause offence to narrow minded listeners". Almost Blue did spawn a surprise UK hit single in a version of George Jones's "Good Year For The Roses" (written by Jerry Chesnut), which reached #6.
It was shocking and very brave, here was the epitome of cool punky songwriters doing something so uncool, and amazing.