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Costello Fans, I Need Your Advice...


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22 replies to this topic

#1 of 23 OFFLINE   Andrew_Sch

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Posted April 13 2004 - 10:54 AM

Of course I've got the first three albums, and consider each one to be brilliant, but I'm looking to expand my library of Costello a little bit. What's the best of the rest?
"Old theatres are irreplaceable. They could never be duplicated at today's costs - but more importantly, their spirit could not be duplicated because they remind us of a day when going to the show was a more glorious and escapist experience. I think a town's old theatres are the sanctuary of...

#2 of 23 OFFLINE   BrianB

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Posted April 13 2004 - 12:18 PM

That's easy, "Blood & Chocolate" Posted Image
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#3 of 23 OFFLINE   Rachael B

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Posted April 13 2004 - 02:42 PM

You're asking a very hard, subjective question. In the fairly recent past, I got the biggest kick out of THE KOJACK VARIETY. I like the cover songs. I rather like KING OF AMERICA with the song Brilliant Mistake. I adore the song Baby Plays Around. What's that one called, SPIKE or SPIKEZ or something along those lines. If you like jazz, his album with Burt Bacarach was very nice, a bit melencholy, but memorable tunes, lovely, I love it! NORTH, his last album, is a solo jazz album that's melancholy x 99 = very, sad, slow, and my least favourite of all the albums I've heard by him, atleast 20!

He's involved in his wife's, Diana Krall, new album that comes out on SA-CD, that's hybrid, soon. I think it's only 1-3 weeks unless it balks. I'm gonna give this one a shake, but I like jazz. You may not...?

I think I saw a new Costello greatest hit set somewhere lately. Or, maybe I never noticed it before? I think it was 2 or 3 disc. Maybe you should eyeball that for a starting spot? Best wishes!Posted Image

P.S. - If you like kuntry fried, ALMOST BLUE is his kuntry album. It's not half bad. He stille needs some act-scent training on the thwang thang though.
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#4 of 23 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted April 13 2004 - 03:52 PM

Quote:
Of course I've got the first three albums, and consider each one to be brilliant, but I'm looking to expand my library of Costello a little bit. What's the best of the rest?


My top five picks in order of best to worst:

Imperial Bedroom
Get Happy!!
Trust
King of America
Mighty Like a Rose (I'm in the minority on that one)
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#5 of 23 OFFLINE   Derek Miner

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Posted April 13 2004 - 05:44 PM

Hey, Andrew,

Sounds like you're on the same quest I've just been on. For the longest time, I had the first three Elvis Costello CDs from Rhino, and one day I decided I should expand from there and find out which others I'd like.

Just to kind of peg where I stand on the first three albums, I like This Year's Model as a whole the most, though I consider "Accidents Will Happen" and "Oliver's Army" as some of my favorite songs overall.

First I picked up Get Happy!!, which at the time I did not realize came right after Armed Forces. The album is full of great songs, and the Rhino reissue has a bonus disc packed fuller than the first disc, with a slew of interesting alternate takes and b-sides. This one became a favorite quickly.

Next, because I had fond memories of "Veronica,' I picked up Spike. I really enjoyed a few of the tracks on it, but I was disappointed in the album overall. The style seems so different than Costello's other albums, and the production is too quirky - it gets in the way of the songs, even though I didn't find the melodies that memorable to start with. Even the second song co-written with Paul McCartney (after "Veronica") is a flat-out dud.

Next, I intended to get Brutal Youth, because it was the last "reunion" album with the Attractions, but I ended up with Blood and Chocolate out of convenience (it was in stock, and the other wasn't). I was actually extremely happy with Blood and Chocolate. The production is very raw, as it was recorded live in the studio as if the band were on stage. No matter how they are produced, though, I still think the songs are top notch. And even though some of the arrangements are up-tempo, they're bitter up-tempo songs, which I must admit to liking in general.

Then I got around to buying Brutal Youth, which I must say was much better than Spike as a late-period album. The songs may be less ambitious, but there's some great melodies and a throwback to the old Attractions style on a few tracks. And though I am least enamored with Costello's ballads and light tunes, I found the ones on Brutal Youth most interesting.

After that, I figured there was still one "masterpiece" left that I had skipped, which was Imperial Bedroom. The guy at the store said it was one of his favorite three albums of all time, but I guess I'm just not into it. Overall, I can see why this album is such a favorite of Costello fans - it's the culmination of everything he'd done up to that point with a whole new bag of tricks thrown in. I suppose it's like Costello's Sgt. Pepper or Pet Sounds. Almost all of the songs have memorable bits, but I was put off by some of the arrangements and production on the first half of the album. A couple of the mellower songs just put me to sleep, to be completely honest. Still, if you're a fan, the Rhino version is a wonderful purchase for the loaded second disc.

Just the other day, I had a hankering to get another disc, and between Trust and Mighty Like a Rose, I chose the latter. The samples of Trust I've heard just didn't grab me the way Brutal Youth or Get Happy!! did, so I keep passing on it... Mighty LIke a Rose is somewhere between Brutal Youth and Spike. I actually am liking it better than Spike, with a more consistent approach. Some of the songs are still hard to warm up to, but it's more like classic Costello, and he's really bitter on this one, too. I'm still discovering it, to be honest.

Let me know if any of these opinions helped!
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#6 of 23 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted April 13 2004 - 07:19 PM

This is like saying 'I've got the first three Beatles albums, which do I get next?'. Rather like the Beatles, you'll find that the next few albums are well worth the purchase, but the very late stuff is of more variable quality (though still yielding gems), and when you get on to the side projects, it's much more a matter of pesonal taste.

I'd say that the absolute essential is Imperial Bedroom. Side 1 (in the original vinyl issue) is as perfect a piece of intelligent pop as you are ever going to hear (Side 2 is admittedly not so hot).

I'd also recommend Punch the Clock and King of America. But all of EC's stuff up to and including Spike, the Beloved Entertainer is likely to yield an agreeable entertainment for your money.

After Spike I personally think quality control slipped and his later stuff is to my ears just not worth the purchase. However, others will disagree.

#7 of 23 OFFLINE   AricB

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Posted April 14 2004 - 02:30 AM

I'm in the same boat as you working from the beginning up, except I have Cruel Smile from about 2 years ago, and really like it. I have North and yes it is slow and melancholy, but the surround mix is tasteful on the sacd.

#8 of 23 OFFLINE   GarySI

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Posted April 14 2004 - 07:28 AM

I have to say when EC does return to rock, as he did on Cruel Smile, he proves that he is still at the top of the heap. Imperial Bedroom is essential,Blood and Chocolate is another. Blood was the reuniting of Costello and Nick Lowe as his producer. I love the sound that Nick coaxed from the band. If you want to cover all the bases get The Very Best of Costello, this gives an amazing overview of his career. Shipbilding may be the closest thing to the perfect song, especially the original 7" by Robert Wyatt. I have been following EC's career for the last 28 years and am still amazed at his growth as a lyricist and performer. As a lyricist, I think he is this generation's Stephen Sondheim.
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#9 of 23 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted April 14 2004 - 03:23 PM

Quote:
Next, I intended to get Brutal Youth, because it was the last "reunion" album with the Attractions

Nope - All This Useless Beauty came last. It's from 1996 - Youth is from 1994...
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#10 of 23 OFFLINE   Derek Miner

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Posted April 15 2004 - 05:45 AM

Thanks, Colin.
Oops. :b
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#11 of 23 OFFLINE   Patrick Larkin

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Posted April 15 2004 - 06:14 AM

Imperial Bedroom is one of the greatest albums of all time.

Must haves (since you have the first 3):

Get Happy (Just listening to this this morning - The Imposter!!)
Trust (New Lace Sleeves)
Almost Blue (if you dig the country thing)
Imperial Bedroom
King of America
Mighty Like a Rose (big bloated bearded Elvis!)
All This Useless Beauty

I'm not a huge blood and Chocolate fan and Punch the Clock and Goodbye Cruel World I never even bought on CD (have the vinyl). I love Mighty Like a Rose because I saw him on that tour in a record store. He bought a bunch of Grateful Dead CDs (seriously). He was all straggly with that big beard. If anyone saw him on Saturday Night Live that year, you'll know what I'm talking about. Awesome stuff.

I think you need to listen to Elvis' albums in sequence to get how his sound changed over time. I've been an Elvis fan for decades and I really enjoy his post-Trust stuff. It depends whether you are into Elvis' more complex arrangements and lyrics or not.


On a side note, do yourself a favor and buy some Nick Lowe CDs too.

#12 of 23 OFFLINE   Angelo.M

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Posted April 15 2004 - 07:48 AM

I think All this Useless Beauty is a terrific album, and (almost) criminally overlooked.

#13 of 23 OFFLINE   RobertW

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Posted April 15 2004 - 11:13 AM

Quote:
My top five picks in order of best to worst:

Imperial Bedroom
Get Happy!!
Trust
King of America
Mighty Like a Rose (I'm in the minority on that one)

sounds about right to me.

#14 of 23 OFFLINE   Andrew_Sch

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Posted April 15 2004 - 11:53 AM

OK, I'm probably going to hit up Best Buy tonight if they have the albums I'm looking for. I'll definitely pick up Get Happy and I'll give Imperial Bedroom a good look too. Thanks everyone.
"Old theatres are irreplaceable. They could never be duplicated at today's costs - but more importantly, their spirit could not be duplicated because they remind us of a day when going to the show was a more glorious and escapist experience. I think a town's old theatres are the sanctuary of...

#15 of 23 OFFLINE   Alex Shk

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Posted April 16 2004 - 10:19 AM

I think that Get Happy and Imperial Bedroom are as essential as the first three (Get Happy makes me think of his classic period as the "first four"). Trust came in-between those two and I can't dismiss it, many Costello fans feel it to be essential - but somehow it worked on a much lesser scale with me.

No-one has mentioned "When I was Cruel" from a few years back (2002?). The band is the Imposters - which is the Attractions with a new bass player. IMHO (and maybe the only one), it easily smokes Blood and Chocolate - which has some tasty moments, but the original US Columbia CD is so compressed and "screechy" sounding that I find it unlistenable. I wonder if B & C is available on a high-rez format, like vinyl, that might sound better than the CD?

#16 of 23 OFFLINE   DanaA

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Posted April 16 2004 - 03:38 PM

My personal two favorites after the first three are Trust and Imperial Bedroom, two very different, but both worthwhile efforts. From a Whisper to a Scream (which includes one of the singers from Squeeze), Watch Your Step, and New Lace Sleeves are some of my favorites from Trust.

#17 of 23 OFFLINE   Todd Hostettler

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Posted April 17 2004 - 01:29 AM

My suggestions, in order, would be:

Get Happy!!!
Imperial Bedroom
When I Was Cruel
Trust
All This Useless Beauty


That said, my fave EC album of the last decade was the Burt Bacharach collaboration Painted From Memory. But I'll be the first to admit that it takes an acquired taste.

#18 of 23 OFFLINE   Jon_Are

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Posted April 18 2004 - 01:52 PM

Hey Andrew -

Elvis has been my main musical guy since 1977.

With that in mind...

I consider Imperial Bedroom the greatest album ever made. Because it is so complex, it takes a bit of "active listening" to fully appreciate; don't abandon it without giving it a chance to fully blossom.

King of America is another jewel (despite containing one of the few EC songs I cannot listen to). American Without Tears is awesome, and the cover of Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood is a must.

You'll love Taking Liberties and Get Happy, which are very much like the first three albums; very clever, very musical, very accessible.

Also extremely worthy: Blood & Chocolate, When I Was Cruel, and All This Useless Beauty.

I would stay away from (for now): Goodbye Cruel World, Mighty Like a Rose, and Almost Blue. Not that they're terrible...they are just for another day.Posted Image

Oh yeah, I dig the hell out of Kojak Variety, but because it is covers, you're missing out on Elvis' greatest strength.

Let us know what's happening!

Jon

#19 of 23 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted April 19 2004 - 02:14 AM

Quote:
King of America is another jewel (despite containing one of the few EC songs I cannot listen to).



Which one?

Quote:
You'll love Taking Liberties and Get Happy, which are very much like the first three albums; very clever, very musical, very accessible.


Do you mean Trust instead of Liberties? The latter WAS a great little compilation, but it no longer exists as a current release. I don't even recall if Columbia ever put that one out on CD - I know I got 10 Bloody Marys... as an import CD but don't remember seeing Liberties in that format...
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#20 of 23 OFFLINE   Tom McDonald

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Posted April 20 2004 - 12:29 AM

KING OF AMERICA the best overlooked Costello CD, Also pick up Costello & Nieve the Box Set, you need to find it used now because I think it is out of print, not all is great but it contains some absolute GEMS.
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