Chet Baker on Elvis Costello’s “Shipbuilding”
from Punch the Clock (1983)
For some rock fans, the appearance of the trumpeter on a popular album stocked with MTV hits seemed out of context. However, Costello’s father was a trumpet-playing big-band jazz singer, so the singer/songwriter had a long appreciation for the jazz genre, belied by his early nerd-punk image. Given the political and social message of the song, which refers to the shipbuilding industry that makes ships built to be sunk, Baker’s cameo adds poignancy to the arrangement. The original version of the song, sans Baker, was recorded by Robert Wyatt and was a minor 1982 hit in the U.K. in response to the Falklands War.