ELVIS COSTELLO: Reviews of new Rhino re-releases

Kevin Leonard

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(Note: there is another thread inquiring about Costello reissues. If any of the mods feel this thread is redundant, please close it and I'll repost my reviews in the other thread.)
In the mid-90's, Rykodisc took all of Elvis Costello's albums from his "classic years" aka Columbia years (1977 - 1986) and reissued each of them with remastered sound, liner notes from Costello and a generous amount of bonus tracks--including b-sides, outtakes, live songs and various odds and ends. The reissue series was widely acclaimed and helped to keep Costello in the press.
I discovered Elvis two years ago, when I was a lad of 18 and eager to expand my knowledge of music. Many of my favorite musicians cited Costello as an influence, and after hearing many positive things about him, I took and a chance and bought his first album, My Aim Is True. To cut to the chase, I didn't think much of it and filed it away; soon I discovered he had much more cooler songs in his repertoire and after buying his second album (This Year's Model), I became another one of the converted.
So, several purchases later, I discover that all the Ryko reissues have gone out of print to make way for the brand new reissues by Rhino. Not only would each album now be a 2-disc set, Costello's albums from 1989 - 1996 would be reissued as well. Is it worth it to re-buy for those of us who own the Ryko reissues? Well, read on...
MY AIM IS TRUE (1977)
The Album
Here it is. The debut of a genius. A collection of 13 perfect songs. Probably the finest album of 1977. A groundbreaking work that defies expectations.
I DON'T THINK SO! Costello's debut is a fun album, but all the songs are merely average or above-average. There may be some contributing factors to this: cheap recording methods, Costello's possible nervousness and the musical backing of the group Clover--best known as being Huey Lewis' band--who were replaced shortly afterwards by the backing band we all know and love...The Attractions.
There is a common myth about Costello that I'd like to address: that he was a punk rocker. Not true. Costello was always a pop craftsman at heart, and the fact that some of his songs are loud and have a punkish edge to them is beside the point. Anyone who tells you this is a punk album has not listened to it.
If anything, the music has a very heavy debt to 50's music, particularly doo-wop ("Welcome to the Working Week," "Sneaky Feelings," "No Dancing") and rockabilly ("Mystery Dance," "Blame It On Cain"). Costello pays his dues to the Byrds ("Red Shoes") and the Kinks (the garage rocker "Miracle Man") as well. Since the influences are so heavy, the songs are bound to suffer. Oh, none of the tunes are bad; it's just that many of them aren't memorable. I'd be hard pressed to tell you the differences to "Blame It On Cain" and "Sneaky Feelings," and aside from the lyrics (more on that in a bit), "Mystery Dance" and "No Dancing" sound like generic 50's rockers.
However, where Costello shines is in the lyrics department. Quite a few songs are about sexual frustration ("Miracle Man," "No Dancing," "Mystery Dance," "I'm Not Angry"), some are surreal journeys ("Waiting For the End of the World"), some are lost love laments ("Alison," "Red Shoes") and some are just, well, are hard to describe ("Watching the Detectives"). There are many great lines, but here is just one of my favorites (from "Red Shoes"):
Oh, I said "I'm so happy, I could die."
She said "Drop dead," then left with another guy.
Let's see the other two big UK acts of 1977, the Clash or the Sex Pistols, try to come up with something like that.
Despite the averageness of the music, there are some standouts; not surprisingly, they've all gone on to become classics. First is the aching love ballad "Alison." This is a perfect breakup song...the lyrics are sentimental, yet not sappy, and the melody is quite lovely, with a slight soul and Latin feel to it.
Next up is "Less Than Zero." A vicious lyrical attack on the hated facist Oswald Mosley. Say what you will, but even the most vicious lyrics don't mean jack unless you got a catchy melody to back it up, and Costello and Clover provide one. With a rollicking guitar and a punchy organ, Costello snarls out the words before going into an infectious "Hey! Hey!" chorus. It's probably the best song on the album.
Finally, we have "Watching the Detectives." This was added to the US version of the album (it was released as a non-album single in the UK). As best as I can tell, the song is like some murder mystery gone horribly wrong, as Costello whispers out the words with a slight air of disgust in his voice. Kicking off with a powerful drum intro, there is a killer interplay between the bass and keyboards (the latter played by future Attractions member Steve Nieve), with sharp guitar lines cutting in. It's a brilliant song and a perfect way to close the album.
The Discs
Soundwise, the sound is exactly like the one found on the Ryko reissues. The instruments are all very clear and very well-mixed, while the sound overall has a warm, full feel to it. It manages to sound clean and messy at the same time. The only difference is that "Mystery Dance" fades out on this version rather than coming to a stop on the Ryko version.
As for bonus cuts, what we get here will thrill the Costello newbie, but will piss off the buyer who owns the past version (i.e., me). All told, there are only 4 new bonus tracks that were not on the Ryko version.
There are two early versions of songs that would wind up on Costello's next album This Year's Model--"No Action" and "Living In Paradise." The former has a ton of distortion (due to the instruments not being properly miked) but is incredibly frenetic, with a forceful drumming part and messy guitar sound...it's even more brutal than the version found on TYM. The latter sounds completely different from the more well-known version; here it is done as a country tune, with pedal steel and rockabilly twangs. It would have fit in nicely on the original album, but was dropped for reasons unknown.
Moving on, the other 2 exclusive cuts are both live. First is a cover of the Bacharach/David tune "I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself." It's basically done as a slow ballad; it's competent, but nothing truly stands out. Next is "Less Than Zero (Dallas Version)." Here, instead of Oswald Mosley, the target is Lee Harvey Oswald. The lyrics are even more blunt than the original, and the Attractions attack the song with energy. It's a great addition.
The rest of the bonus tracks have all appeared previously. "Radio Sweetheart" is a catchy acoustic song that appeared as a b-side, while "Stranger In the House" is a straight up country song that was dropped as country was considered death in 1977. "Imagination (Is A Powerful Deceiver)," one of the outtakes from MAIT, kind of bops along for 4 minutes, then stops...it's pretty unmemorable. The rest of the songs--known as the "Honky Tonk Demos"--is just Costello and his acoustic guitar, trying out new tunes...some of which would show up on his first two albums, albeit lyrically altered. The songs are quite nice to listen to, and make for an interesting type of folk music EP.
Packaging-wise, the release is exceptional. The booklet provided is thick, filled with rare photos, lyrics to all the songs, and very detailed (and entertaining) liner notes by Costello (note: these are different from the notes that appeared in the Ryko version).
Overall, I'd say it's worth a repurchase. Rhino has wisely priced each release at $18; most stores will carry it for less. So for under 20 bucks, you can get 2 discs of quality material, lovingly done or the latest CD by whatever band is in the top 10 right now. It's up to you.
Reviews of Spike and All This Useless Beauty to follow.
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Have you ever noticed anyone driving slower than you is an idiot? And anyone driving faster than you is a maniac!! - George Carlin
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Alex Shk

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It's interesting to hear someone from the current generations views on this album, but from the viewpoint of someone who was there when it was released, I think you undermine the impact this album had.
In 1977 the airwaves were dominated by the pulsating beat of disco, and the all too predictable sounds of corporate rock (ie. - Boston, Journey etc). Punk rock was a club scene in the major cities except for the UK where it was on fire. There were fundamental differences between punk UK and US - the former was much more politically based and vicious (Pistols, Clash, Damned) while the later was more cerebral and... well .... goofy (Ramones, Television, Talking Heads). Neither faction of punk was really denting the US charts.
EC flew in on the wings of punk, and as you correctly state, he really wasn't immersed in that genre. The sound of that first album does seem to borrow more from 50's & 60's rock more than punk (probably due to the production of the pub rock band "Brinsly Schwartz" bassist Nick Lowe)- but the lyrical attitude sure did. Only Elvis gave it a twist - he painted himself as the victim of emotional frustration.
There was no way to please the women in Miracle Man ("I know that walking on the water won't make me your miracle man") and "No Dancing" ("he's getting down on his knees, he finds the girl is not so easy to please, after all these nights were just a paper striptease, she's caught him like some disease"). There was no way he could contain his anger - even when constantly denying it in I'm Not Angry ("I could hear you whisper as I crept by your door, so you found some other joker who could please you more - I'm not angry"). Somewhere along the way EC found a link to the emotional frustrations of adolescence and brought them into the adult world. This album had a lyrical impact that just wasn't found in the radio songs of the day.
As for the sloppy pub rock sound - I think it suits these songs. This - more than any other - was EC's rock n' roll album. I really can't imagine it sounding any other way than it does. One year later he would release This Years Model with a much more highly polished "new wave" sound and backing by the Attractions. Strangely enough, both were produced by Nick Lowe who must have realized that the rag tag sound of the first lp would no longer suffice. EC AND the Attractions would revisit this pub rock sound again, especially on several tracks from Get Happy, which is my personal favorite Costello record. I would have to say that this one is my second favorite.
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george kaplan

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I was in high school when this came out, and it was one of the few bright spots at a time when Disco, The Bee Gees and Saturday Night Fever were all the rage. I said it then, and I'll say it now. Disco sucks.
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I remember watching that episode of SNL back in '77 (?) when Elvis made his American telly debut. Back then, SNL was The show to watch, cutting edge and all that. The musical guests were mostly hit and miss. When Elvis came on, I sorta rolled my eyes at the pencil-neck with the big glasses. By the end of the show I was intrigued. I bought My Aim Is True a few days later and was converted.
Through the years, Elvis has rarely let me down. I've looked forward to each new release with an anticipation that no one I knew would understand. I spun his 'traditional' discs with enthusiasm, and open-mindedly embraced each of his ventures down uncharted (for him) musical paths, learning early to be patient and trust.
My favorites vary as time goes by, but I usually cite Imperial Bedroom as his masterpiece.
And still, every once in a while I crank up My Aim Is True, and it works its magic on me just as it did 24 years ago.
I'll leave with an early favorite EC line:
"White lies, alibis, say anything but say that it's true;
We could sit like lovers, staring at each others' eyes
but the magic of the moment might become too much for you."
Jon
 

PienSavaca

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Kevin,
A little clarity on something?....
So the new Rhino re-issues (the first 3 so far) conatain all the music from the original columbia issues PLUS the ryko bonus material PLUS more bonus material?
I just need to know if there is any mutually exclusive material. I never picked up Ryko versions, Rhino is definitive versions?
 

Kevin Leonard

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Pien,
Yes, ALL of the bonus material that was found on Ryko's reissues will be on the corresponding Rhino reissue, in addition to whatever rarities Costello seemed fit to include.
As for definitive, I wouldn't call either version definitive. A diehard like me has bootlegs that contain some great early material that would have made ideal additions to My Aim Is True. Maybe Costello didn't want them on there or didn't have access to them.
But don't let that dissuade you: the bonus material is exactly that--a bonus. It's the main album that counts. The sound on both versions is identical. And it's nice that Rhino decided to reissue Costello's albums from 1989 through 1996 as well.
If you skip the Ryko versions and want to wait for the Rhino versions, better get comfortable: the whole reissue series won't be complete until early 2003.
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Have you ever noticed anyone driving slower than you is an idiot? And anyone driving faster than you is a maniac!! - George Carlin
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Mark Cappelletty

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Kevin,
My quandary is that I want to get all of the Rhino discs, but have all of the earlier Ryko reissues (save for "Goodbye Cruel World," which got stolen and I've learned is a bitch to replace-- jeez, and it's his [self-proclaimed] worst album!). But when I put my Ryko "My Aim Is True" in my CD player the other day, I was so impressed with the sound quality -- and the extras, which are essentially what you get on the Rhino reissues -- that I'm going to hold off and just replace the Warner Bros. albums.
I got "Spike" and "All This Useless Beauty" and the extra discs on each are essential. "Spike" in particular has never sounded better and the demos completely reinvent some of the songs (some of which sound too busy for me). I hadn't listened to the record for a couple of years and had forgotten how strong some of them are, particularly "Tramp The Dirt Down," which is utterly devastating.
But as far as I can tell, those of us who already have the Ryko catalog can hold off on some of these purchases unless they pull a Ramones on us and start putting in whole concerts (where's "Live at the El Mocambo," Rhino?)
Glad to see some other Elvis Costello fans here.
 

Kevin Leonard

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Mark,
I share your pain.
I especially feel pissed considering I spent nearly 50 dollars for what amounts to 2 discs of material I don't own...actually, less than that: I have some bootlegs that already contain a lot of material on the Rhino bonus discs.
But really, if you can find it cheap, pick up the MAIT reissue. It's worth it for the 4 exclusive cuts (especially "No Action" and "Less Than Zero (Dallas Version)") and the great liner notes. During one part of the notes, Costello explains that when he got an advance from Stiff Records, he took part of the money and bought back his copy of A Hard Day's Night, which he was forced to sell in order to pay the gas bill. It's little, humble details like that that help make Costello one of my favorites.
But if you don't want to, I'm sure you can obtain the songs through, ahem, other means. *coughWinMXcough*

And as for Spike. You and I think alike when it comes to this album. See my review below...
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Have you ever noticed anyone driving slower than you is an idiot? And anyone driving faster than you is a maniac!! - George Carlin
ICQ: 55259446 (or just search for "John Shaft"...can you dig?)
[Edited last by Kevin Leonard on August 31, 2001 at 12:48 AM]
 

Kevin Leonard

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SPIKE (1989)
The Album
Fast forward to 1989...twelve years after Costello's debut. In between, he had released several albums, gotten divorced and remarried, scored a few hits, dumped his old record labels, retired the Attractions, been branded a hero, a visionary, a sellout and--for a few years--a total racist (the last thanks to the notorious "Ray Charles" incident).
Costello had changed record labels from Columbia to Warner Bros. after the 1986 release of Blood and Chocolate. He waited a full three years to release his WB debut, Spike. Critics hailed it as one of his finest efforts, a total artistic triumph, one of 1989's finest.
Just like My Aim Is True, I have to respectfully disagree. For this album, Costello called upon a drool-worthy roster of collaborators: The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Roger McGuinn (The Byrds), T-Bone Burnett, Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders), Allen Toussaint, Marc Ribot, Jim Keltner, and The Cute One himself... Paul McCartney.
And this look-at-my-famous-friends concept is exactly what helps to torpedo the album. Having such famous musicians around usually leads one to show off, and that is exactly what happens here. Let's get Paul McCartney to lay down some bass lines! Let's have Roger McGuinn strap on his old 12-string! Hey, get Chrissie Hynde in here and we'll sing something together! Mr. Toussaint, play some piano! And since they're such famous people, their respective instruments are usually mixed louder and brought to your attention.
Which leads me to the next problem...overproduction. Those of us used to Costello's previous sound--which is to say it sounds like he was recorded in a high school gym--will be in for a shock here. There's so much going on musically in the first track "This Town" that it lacks focus. That's the feel for the rest of the album...cluttered sound that is in serious need of paring down.
The lyrics unfortunately are victims too of over-ambition. There's the confused murder tale of "Let Him Dangle," the surreal "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror," the oh-so-clever puns of "Pads, Paws and Claws" and Costello's attempts to outdo Andrew Lloyd Webber ("God's Comic") and Burt Bacharach ("Satellite"). There are a few lyrical gems though: the touching tale of an old woman losing her mind ("Veronica," co-written with Paul McCartney), the frank and direct "Baby Plays Around"--dealing with cheating spouses--and the touching coming-of-age tale "Last Boat Leaving."
Some great songs that make the album a listenable experience. "Veronica" was one of Costello's big hits and it's easy to see why: it's a great bouncy pop song, with a nice bass part by McCartney and a lovely, understated horn playing in the background. "God's Comic" indeed sounds like some long-lost song from an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, a lounge song from hell. It's pretty hard not to sing along to this. The sweaty, down-and-dirty New Orleans sound of "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror" helps to make one forget about the lyrics--it's one of my top 5 Costello songs. For you Celtic folk fans, you're gonna go wild over "Tramp the Dirt Down"--never mind the dated die-Margaret-Thatcher lyrics. "Stalin Malone" is a great, jazzy 20's throwback instrumental, and "Any King's Shilling" has a lovely, Elizabethan-times-meets-Scottish-hoedown feel to it.
All in all, a pretty disappointing effort, but one that is not a completely boring experience, thanks in part to its ambition. But that same ambition is what hinders it as well.

The Discs
Rhino once again delivers the goods, remastering the original sound to make it feel more fuller and detailed. The original album didn't need to be remastered, but it was nice of them to do it anyways.
For bonus cuts, we have a whopping twelve demos Costello made--eleven of them are for songs that made it onto Spike. The demos are utterly delightful, with Costello and his (for the most part) guitar, making some great music. The stripped-away sound of the demos are vastly different to their official counterparts, and make for an excellent album on their own. I think it says something when I say I've listened to the demos more than I have the actual album.

The other demo, "Put Your Toe In the Milk of Human Kindness," was apparently a song Costello wrote for a Disney movie (the mind boggles as to what movie this was). It was rejected, but is here for the first time. It's a very cute, singalong song with an equally cute, bopping melody to it. The song is almost disarming considering how lyrically vicious some of his material is.
We are then treated to four b-sides, all covers: Nick Lowe's "The Ugly Things," Goffin and King's "Point of No Return," Clint Ballard's "You're No Good" and John Sebastian's "The Room Nobody Lives In." All four are utterly great songs: "The Ugly Things" and "Point of No Return" are infectious pop songs, while "You're No Good"--with just a guitar and drum machine--has a hypnotic if slightly eerie feel to it. "The Room Nobody Lives In" is a sloooowwwww psychedelic ballad with a collage of Pink Floyd-like sound effects added in. The final song is the "vocal version" of "Stalin Malone" with Costello reciting a surreal poem in a funny deadpan voice over the musical backing. It's a strange way to end one of Costello's strangest efforts.

And the packaging is excellent, filled with rare photos, lyrics and highly entertaining and revealing liner notes by Costello, which definitely helped me understand the album better.
If you are a Costello newbie, stay away from this until you have gotten familiar with his 1977 - 1982 material. But be sure to pick this up sometime, as there are some great songs to be found, and the bonus disc enhances this product to no end.
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Have you ever noticed anyone driving slower than you is an idiot? And anyone driving faster than you is a maniac!! - George Carlin
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Samuel Des

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Didn't EC cover a Gram Parsons tune?
Edit: Found it. Wow -- a country covers album, Almost Blue. The Rykodisc has a lot of "new" material.
[Edited last by Samuel Des on September 04, 2001 at 09:02 AM]
 

Todd Hostettler

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Kevin,
While I agree with the majotiry of your analyses of Spike, I disagree with your opinion of God's Comic. It's one of my all-time fave EC songs, and one of the few of the WB years that seem to hold a candle to his early output. It's absolutley thrilling when he does it live.
[Edited last by Todd Hostettler on September 01, 2001 at 10:25 AM]
 

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Kevin Leonard

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ALL THIS USELESS BEAUTY (1996)
The Album
Costello's final album for Warner Bros., All This Useless Beauty is one of best efforts: a lovely and understated effort, despite the participation of The Attractions, Costello's rocking backing band.
The ballad "The Other End of the Telescope" kicks off the album on a quiet note before gaining speed (and volume) on "Little Atoms," a rumbling Pink Floyd-like number that has a hypnotic keyboard loop running throughout. The title track that follows prepares listeners for what most of the album sounds like: quiet piano-dominated ballads that either build up to a swelling wave of sound ("Why Can't A Man Stand Alone?"), keep it cool ("Poor Fractured Atlas" and "Distorted Angel," perhaps the album's catchiest number) or incorporate a restrained string section ("I Want to Vanish," which features The Brodsky Quartet). There's only one full-fledged rock song here, "Complicated Shadows," which rivals anything Costello put out in his earlier, hard rocking days...not surprisingly, this tune was recorded live, where the Attractions always rocked harder than they did in the studio.
It can't be a Costello album though unless there are a few sonic misfires, and ATUB has a couple: the odd sound collage "Distorted Angel" (co-written by Paul McCartney!) and "Starting to Come to Me," which has a nice enough melody, but feels like some second-rate reject from Costello's acoustic album King of America. However, that shouldn't detract from ATUB: it's certainly one of Costello's most enjoyable efforts, densely layered with lyrics that are highly literate and detailed (but never pretentious). If nothing else, this album points to the "smooth crooner" direction Costello was going in with his future efforts, but without losing the rock/pop side.
The Discs
The bonus disc runs at 75 minutes, and not a single minute is wasted. The disc kicks off with "Almost Ideal Eyes"...certainly one of the oddest songs Costello has ever recorded: it starts off as a bouncy drum number then shifts into a slow soul number, then kicks back into bouncy drum mode, with a barrage of odd keyboard noises and scat singing being laid on. Interesting, and it would've fitted nicely onto ATUB. "My Dark Life" follows, and it's a six-and-a-half minute collaboration with ambient god Brian Eno, who gives the song the typical Eno treatment: layered synths and tape loops, which meshes nicely with Costello's voice.
"That Day Is Done" is easily the disc's best number: a song that sounds like a great 50's soul song crossed with a torch ballad, with powerful vocal backing by the Fairfield Four. I wish this number had been included on ATUB instead of being relegated to a b-side. A lovely acoustic cover of Sleeper's "What Do I Do Now?" follows, which kicks right into Costello's stab at trip-hop, "The Bridge I Burned," a great number that features members of Supergrass as well as Costello's son Matthew.
The next eleven tracks are all demo cuts of numbers from ATUB and songs intended from other artists (including Nick Lowe, Johnny Cash, Aaron Neville, Roy Orbison and Paul McCartney). Like the demos on Spike, these are absolutely a blast to listen to: the demos are fully produced, and although the emphasis is on Costello's voice and acoustic guitar, keyboards, piano, bass, drum machines and double-tracked vocals abound. Standouts include an acoustic "Complicated Shadows," a rocking "Shallow Grave," the slow soul ballad "The Days Take Care of Everything," the infectious Johnny Cash-like number "Hidden Shame" (which Cash actually recorded), and "You Bowed Down," which sounds like a modern-day Byrds song. The disc closes with a remix of "Distorted Angel" by electronica/trip-hop maestro Tricky, who slows the song down to a snail-like lurch, making it a haunting, creepy and very different number than the original. A smashing, if disturbing, way to end the bonus disc.
As with the previous two Rhino reissues, the booklet is crammed with lyrics, photos and wonderful liner notes by Costello, who tells of how the album was recorded during a time where both his longtime backing band and label was about to be dumped; he also manages to include a very funny reference to The Godfather Part III, among others.
Of the first wave of Rhino's Costello reissues, ATUB easily wins hands down. The main album is one his best efforts, while the bonus disc is even better, and worth the price tag alone. It makes one eager to see how the company will handle the next trio of Costello reissues--This Year's Model, Blood & Chocolate and Brutal Youth--due out in November.
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Have you ever noticed anyone driving slower than you is an idiot? And anyone driving faster than you is a maniac!! - George Carlin
ICQ: 55259446 (or just search for "John Shaft"...can you dig?)
[Edited last by Kevin Leonard on October 04, 2001 at 05:57 PM]
 

Rain

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quote: While I agree with the majotiry of your analyses of Spike, I disagree with your opinion of God's Comic.[/quote]
Well, I disagree with most of your analysis of Spike. Your main criticisms seem to hinge on the fact that it is so very different from his ealier recordings. I'm not one of those people who wants to hear an artist record the same album over and over again. If you are resistant to Mr. C trying out "new sounds," I would recommend that you needn't bother listening to most of the albums he has done since Spike, as experimentation with new sounds and styles continues even more drastically.
I also don't find the album overproduced. Yes, it is definitely more "crafted" than some of his previous albums, but again, I don't think he was trying to make the same album again. The production works well for the songs. Of course I'm biased, as I'm a T-Bone Burnett fan (check out his album, The Criminal Under My Own Hat).
As for God's Comic in particular, I would not agree that he was in any way trying to "outdo" Andrew Lloyd Webber, but rather to mock him.
quote: So there he was on a water bed,
Drinking a cola of a mystery brand,
Reading an airport novellette,
Listening to Andrew Lloyd Webber's requiem.
He said before it had really begun,
"I prefer the one about my son.
I've been wading through all this unbelievable junk
And wondering if I should have given it all to the monkeys."[/quote]
Andrew Lloyd Webber can only wish that he ever wrote any lyrics half as good.
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MOVING ON DOES NOT MEAN FORGETTING.
[Edited last by Rain on October 05, 2001 at 02:54 PM]
 

Andrew 'Ange Hamm' Hamm

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Rain,
I usually totally disagree with what you have to say (which makes you one of my favorite new HTFers
). But now I call you my brother because you also know the brilliance of a songwriter called T-Bone. You should check out Bruce Cockburn as well.
EDIT: By the way, Andrew Lloyd Webber doesn't write lyrics, but his collaborators are often every bit as brilliant as the best lyricists I've heard.
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Andrew Hamm's new album Strange Education is available now!
[Edited last by Andrew 'Ange Hamm' Hamm on October 06, 2001 at 08:44 AM]
[Edited last by Andrew 'Ange Hamm' Hamm on October 06, 2001 at 08:45 AM]
 

Rain

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By the way, Andrew Lloyd Webber doesn't write lyrics, but his collaborators are often every bit as brilliant as the best lyricists I've heard.
Ok, so he doesn't write the lyrics. Call me uneducated. Anyway, I wasn't saying that the lyrics to the songs for which he has written music are bad, but you have to consider the fact that they are usually in an entirely different genre, namely in the context of a staged play or whatever. Some of those songs are good for what they are, but nothing ever as clever or biting as some of the stuff Costello writes. Bottom line, I guess, is that I just prefer Costello. And it's not entirely fair comparison, since we are talking apples and oranges.
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Kevin Leonard

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quote: Your main criticisms seem to hinge on the fact that it is so very different from his ealier recordings.[/quote]
Well, Costello has really never made the same record twice...his first five albums ran the gamut from pop to rock to punk to soul to folk to country. That's one of the reasons I like Costello so much: you never really know what you're going to get.
Unless you were talking about the sound of his earlier recordings, which had a tight, cohesive feel to them (even in the layered Imperial Bedroom and Punch the Clock). I admit I was a bit taken aback when I first listened to Spike (I bought the albums chronologically by the way), but I really enjoyed Mighty Like A Rose and ATUB, both of which were even more radical in terms of sound and ambition. I like to view Spike as an ambitious failure.
quote: I would recommend that you needn't bother listening to most of the albums he has done since Spike, as experimentation with new sounds and styles continues even more drastically.[/quote]
That'll be hard, considering I own all of his albums.
It's not that I don't appreciate a musician trying to stretch his/her ability, it's just that if you are going to go beyond what people think you can do, at least do it right.
One of my favorite post-Spike albums (and one of my top 5 Costello works) is The Juliet Letters--about as experimental as one can get...a concept album featuring a series of sonnets with a string quartet as backing?
I honestly think that had Costello stripped down some of the songs on Spike, it would have been a much better album. Like I said in my review, the demos on the bonus disc are vastly superior to their more polished counterparts.
quote: Of course I'm biased, as I'm a T-Bone Burnett fan (check out his album, The Criminal Under My Own Hat).[/quote]
I've heard Truth Decay, Talking Animals and Proof Through the Night, and loved all three of 'em. Haven't heard TCUMOH though, I'll give it a listen based on your recommendation.
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[Edited last by Kevin Leonard on October 06, 2001 at 10:42 PM]
 

Kevin Leonard

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Just reviving this thread in case any other members want to weigh in on the three releases above or the three new reissues coming out tomorrow (This Year's Model, Blood & Chocolate and Brutal Youth).
 

Greg_Y

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Track listings for the 2/19/2002 releases:
This Year’s Model - Elvis Costello
No Action
This Year's Girl
The Beat
Pump It Up
Little Triggers
You Belong To Me
Hand In Hand
(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea
Lip Service
Living In Paradise
Lipstick Vogue
Night Rally
Radio, Radio
Big Tears
Crawling To The USA
Running Out Of Angels (demo)
Greenshirt (demo)
Big Boys (demo)
You Belong To Me (Capital Radio Version)
Radio, Radio (Capital Radio Version)
Neat Neat Neat (live)
Roadette Song (live)
This Year’s Girl (alternate Eden Studios version)
(I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea (Basing Street Studios version)
Stranger In The House (BBC version)
Brutal Youth - Elvis Costello
Pony St.
Kinder Murder
13 Steps Lead Down
This Is Hell
Clown Strike
You Tripped At Every Step
Still Too Soon To Know
20% Amnesia
Sulky Girl
London's Brilliant Parade
My Science Fiction Twin
Rocking Horse Road
Just About Glad
All The Rage
Favourite Hour
Life Shrinks
Favourite Hour (Church Studios version)
This Is Hell (Church Studios version)
Idiophone
Abandon Words
Poisoned Letter
A Drunken Man’s Praise Of Sobriety
Pony St. (Bonaparte Rooms version)
Just About Glad (Bonaparte Rooms version)
Clown Strike (Bonaparte Rooms version)
Rocking Horse Road (demo)
13 Steps Lead Down (demo)
All The Rage (demo)
Sulky Girl (demo)
You Tripped At Every Step (Church Studios version)
Blood & Chocolate - Elvis Costello & The Attractions
Uncomplicated
I Hope You're Happy Now
Tokyo Storm Warning
Home is Anywhere You Hang Your Head
I Want You
Honey Are You Straight Or Are You Blind?
Blue Chair
Battered Old Bird
Crimes Of Paris
Poor Napoleon
Next Time Round
Leave My Kitten Alone
New Rhythm Method
Forgive Her Anything (new version)
Crimes Of Paris (electric version)
Uncomplicated (alternate version)
Battered Old Bird (alternate version)
Seven Day Weekend - Elvis Costello with Jimmy Cliff
Blue Chair (single version)
Baby’s Got A Brand New Hairdo
American Without Tears No. 2 (Twilight version)
All These Things
Pouring Water On A Drowning Man
Running Out Of Fools
Tell Me Right Now
Lonely Blue Boy
 

Mark Cappelletty

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I'm still honked that some of the tracks from the Ryko Blood & Chocolate CD aren't on the Rhino one, but heartened to hear that a "Taking Liberties" odds-and-sods comp will be issued at some point toward the end of this series. I'm hoping all of the extraneous stuff, from EC's soundtrack work to his creepy Xmas song with the Chieftans ("St. Stephen's Day Murders") shows up on this.

Yeah, I'll be getting these tomorrow. Glad it's a crappy DVD week.
 

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