His first album, My Aim is True, fell into the arms of the new wave and punk scene and voted as Rolling Stones album of the year in 1977. Costello then formed a backing band, the Attractions, and released This Year's Model, which possesed more of an edge, followed by Armed Forces which reached the top ten. Get Happy!!! was released under the new label F-Beat, followed quickly by the country album Almost Blue. He returned to pop with Trust and won critical acclaim with another pop album Imperial Bedroom. Follow ups Punch the Clock and Goodbye Cruel World kept a lower profile.
In 1986 he recorded King of America with the confederates, a few of whom coincidently backed Elvis Presley. Blood and Chocolate was recorded with the Attractions, after which he left the band to pursue a solo career, resulting in a collaboration with Paul McCartney on his most musically diverse album ever, Spike. In 1991 he released Mighty Like a Rose. Two years later Costello collaborated with the Brodsky Quartet and released The Juliet Letters, which combined pop and classical music. A year later he reunited with the Attractions and got back to pop with the release of Brutal Youth. All This Useless Beauty came out in 1996, which contained songs he wrote for other artists, as well as a 5 CD set of small club performances called Costello & Nieve.