For an era obsessed with authenticity, Elvis Costello was about as fabricated as they came. A made-up name, a lot of lo-fi hype (remember all the Stiff slogans and his arrest outside the CBS London convention?) and those Clark Kent glasses, he always looked like a ringer in rock's perpetual race to find the real deal. Just 23 years old when this glorious debut album was first released in 1977, it may have been touted as part of the new wave but the vintage Rolling Stones vamping of 'Miracle Man' or the splendid countrified kiss-curls of John McFee's guitar on 'Alison' suggests that rather than being part of the year zero movement, Costello was always something of a great pretender: 'New wave' was always a flag of convenience for a songwriter who'd been steadily refining his craft for the previous seven years. Though Nick Lowe's sparse production fitted with the back-to-basics ethos it was more pragmatic than politic: the budget wouldn't stretch to anything more lavish.