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 Post subject: Re: Elvis Costello
PostPosted: Mon September 13, 2021 7:59 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Elvis Costello
PostPosted: Tue September 14, 2021 1:21 am 
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epilogue wrote:
Kevin Davis wrote:
epilogue wrote:
I just don't know enough about this guy. I need to really dive into his career.


Did this happen, Joe?

Unfortunately, no. I listened to one of his hits collections a few times and I listened to Clockface a shit ton when it came out. But then I got wrapped up with other stuff and never kept going.

I will guide you my child

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 Post subject: Re: Elvis Costello
PostPosted: Tue September 14, 2021 1:53 am 
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The 70s:

My Aim is True (1977) - Probably his most "straightforward" album. People call it "pub rock". I never really understood what that meant but if you like meat-and-potatoes rock this is going to be your bag. His backing band Clover gives it a vaguely Byrds-y feel.

This Year's Model (1978) - First album with The Attractions. His "punk" album. Lots of energy, very tight songwriting, wryly acerbic lyrics. I like this one a lot. The Attractions sound amazing.

Armed Forces (1979) - The "new wave" album. The one with "Oliver's Army" on it. Along the lines of the previous one but poppier and more British sounding. Lots of keyboards and synths, lots of hooks.

The 80s:

Get Happy!! (1980) - A manic, energetic collection of songs that draw influence from Motown / Stax as well as ska and a little bit of country. It's 20 songs long and doesn't let up. This one's a lot of people's favorite.

Trust (1981) - An interesting mishmash. A lot of great songs on this one, and may be underrated by the general public. Probably because it feels a bit like a transitional album, the link between the early bratty sound and the more grownup stuff. The songs are more fully formed than GH's, so I prefer it.

Almost Blue (1981) - The first of EC's "genre excursions". An album of country covers. Not punkified or poppified versions of country songs (which, I suspect, is what his label wanted at the time) but an earnest attempt to recreate the Nashville sound. The songs are great, of course, but in my opinion EC's singing is a little rough on this one, kind of adenoidal-sounding. Still, a lot of people really like this one.

Imperial Bedroom (1982) - I've always seen this one as EC's first "grown-up" album, even though it comes only 5 years after his debut. Very lush production, lots of strings. The songs are often kind of tricky, some wild turns here and there. But also very poppy and very Beatles-y. "Man Out of Time" is absolutely gorgeous.

Punch the Clock (1983) - This is the "pop hit". Very catchy, very polished. This is the one with "Every Day I Write the Book" on it. Some really good, really catchy songs, especially if you're a fan of 80s pop. Not my favorite but people really like it.

Goodbye Cruel World (1984) - EC famously called this one "the worst album [he's] ever recorded," so that's what most fans know it as. And... yeah, I gotta agree. It's really a mess. More garish than Punch the Clock, and the songs aren't half as good. You kind of know all you need to know by listening to the first 10 seconds of the album. A couple of really good tunes though, like "Love Field" and "Inch By Inch".

King of America (1986) - His first album without The Attractions since he started working with them. This is a widely beloved album. Mostly acoustic, country/western influenced stuff, as well as some soul. A lot of really beautiful songs, such as "Indoor Fireworks" and "American Without Tears". There are a few more upbeat songs that I could do without, but overall this is great. If you're into folk or country-leaning singer-songwriter stuff, this is the album for you.

Blood & Chocolate (1986) - The Attractions are back for one last hurrah before disbanding for nearly a decade. A really raw, unpolished album. The thinking here was clearly "let's get back to basics." Very bare-bones and aggressive, but, y'know, it's still Elvis Costello and The Attractions, so yeah it's poppy. Has a real live band feel. I read somewhere that this was Thom Yorke's favorite EC album. Somehow I think Neil Young fans would like this one, but maybe I'm way off.

Spike (1989) - This is a pop odyssey. EC changed record labels and was given a large recording budget to work with, so he basically made three albums in one. Its eclecticism might be a bit much to consume in a single sitting, but it's still a great collection of awesome songs. This is the one with "Veronica" on it, another big hit for EC. I also really love "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror". A big-budget extravaganza.


--
The 70s and 80s are definitely EC's "classic period" but the 90s and 00s are my favorite era. I'll write about those tomorrow. Hope this was helpful

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 Post subject: Re: Elvis Costello
PostPosted: Tue September 14, 2021 2:16 am 
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tl;dr

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 Post subject: Re: Elvis Costello
PostPosted: Tue September 14, 2021 2:18 am 
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Elvis Costello is good

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 Post subject: Re: Elvis Costello
PostPosted: Tue September 14, 2021 5:15 am 
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Jorge wrote:
Goodbye Cruel World (1984) - EC famously called this one "the worst album [he's] ever recorded," so that's what most fans know it as. And... yeah, I gotta agree. It's really a mess. More garish than Punch the Clock, and the songs aren't half as good.


The demo versions of "The Comedians" of "Deportee" are stunning though, and really point to what a tragedy of execution the Goodbye Cruel World album was -- in fact I like those acoustic versions so much that I often forget they exist in their more heavily-produced forms on GCW, where virtually every shred of melodic sensitivity is scrubbed clean from them. Then a few years go by and I see the track list and inadvertently think that GCW must be better than I've remembered it, because how couldn't it be if it contains those great songs. And then I listen to it.

That said, I don't hate GCW -- I like the songs you listed a lot, especially "Inch by Inch," and also "Room Without a Number" and (somewhat against my better judgement) "Sour Milk Cow Blues." I should give it a listen soon.

And, I agree with all of your write-ups, with the caveat that despite the perhaps overly fawning praise it tends to get, I'd still rate Get Happy above Trust (in fact I'd probably put it top 5 along with This Year's Model, North, Brutal Youth, and...what else, maybe National Ransom?) I love both albums, but to me Trust is an album of 2/3 very high highs and 1/3 songs I never listen to, but Get Happy I love all the way through, even if no individual song hits the heights of "New Lace Sleeves" or "Watch Your Step."

EC should really be liebzz's next album journey exercise.


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 Post subject: Re: Elvis Costello
PostPosted: Tue September 14, 2021 11:33 am 
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Kevin Davis wrote:
Jorge wrote:
Goodbye Cruel World (1984) - EC famously called this one "the worst album [he's] ever recorded," so that's what most fans know it as. And... yeah, I gotta agree. It's really a mess. More garish than Punch the Clock, and the songs aren't half as good.


The demo versions of "The Comedians" of "Deportee" are stunning though, and really point to what a tragedy of execution the Goodbye Cruel World album was -- in fact I like those acoustic versions so much that I often forget they exist in their more heavily-produced forms on GCW, where virtually every shred of melodic sensitivity is scrubbed clean from them. Then a few years go by and I see the track list and inadvertently think that GCW must be better than I've remembered it, because how couldn't it be if it contains those great songs. And then I listen to it.

That said, I don't hate GCW -- I like the songs you listed a lot, especially "Inch by Inch," and also "Room Without a Number" and (somewhat against my better judgement) "Sour Milk Cow Blues." I should give it a listen soon.

And, I agree with all of your write-ups, with the caveat that despite the perhaps overly fawning praise it tends to get, I'd still rate Get Happy above Trust (in fact I'd probably put it top 5 along with This Year's Model, North, Brutal Youth, and...what else, maybe National Ransom?) I love both albums, but to me Trust is an album of 2/3 very high highs and 1/3 songs I never listen to, but Get Happy I love all the way through, even if no individual song hits the heights of "New Lace Sleeves" or "Watch Your Step."

EC should really be liebzz's next album journey exercise.

It’s quite possible since I have almost no background on Costello.


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 Post subject: Re: Elvis Costello
PostPosted: Tue September 14, 2021 4:59 pm 
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Hello

The 90s:

Mighty Like a Rose (1991) - It's kind of weird that this is a 90s record, it's still so steeped in the aesthetics of the 80s. This is one of his most difficult albums, but there's a lot to love here. I love "Harpies Bizarre". Definitely some Tom Waits influence in parts of this album, "Couldn't Call It Unexpected no.4" especially. Plus Marc Ribot plays on several tracks.

The Juliet Letters (1993) - EC singing a series of original songs with a string quartet. Might feel like a bit of a left turn but it makes sense considering MLAR's more Baroque tendencies. This is a great album, many hauntingly beautiful songs as well as some cheeky and funny ones, but it's not for everyone.

Brutal Youth (1994) - The Attractions are back! Well, kinda! For half of the tracks (Bruce Thomas came in late in the recording process so Nick Lowe plays bass on much of it). This is a really good album, with several punky and aggressive songs as well as some beautiful ballads. EC revisiting his classic Attractions sound with his more sophisticated songwriting makes for a great collection.

All This Useless Beauty (1996) - The final Attractions album. I love this one, though it's EC's most obviously 90s-sounding album. The production has a glossy 90s pop radio sheen to it that I personally do enjoy. The ballads here are especially good, like "Poor Fractured Atlas" and the title track. My favorite song is "It's Time," though, which, hey, here's a couple dopes you might know waxing intellectual about it.

Painted From Memory (1998) - EC's collaboration with Burt Bacharach. To me, this is a perfect album. Probably the best breakup album ever recorded. It's emotional, but also quite adult and complex. Features the classic Bacharach sound, great lyrics, beautiful melodies, and EC at his belting best. A great loungey album to listen to with a glass of wine or four.

The 2000s:

For the Stars (2001) - I was wondering whether to include this one but I guess it counts. It's basically an album of pop songs sung by Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie Von Otter. It's produced by EC and they duet on a couple tracks. Some nice moments (love "Green Song", and the medley of Tom Waits's "Broken Bicycles" and Paul McCartney's "Junk") but completely non-essential. Also, Von Otter sometimes sounds like a posh auntie persuaded against her better judgement to have a go in the karaoke booth.

When I Was Cruel (2002) - Billed as Elvis's "return to rock". This is the first Elvis Costello album I listened to so perhaps I am more fond of it than most people. EC incorporates a bunch of unusual electronic elements here. The songs are truly great, but I hate how compressed the production is. "Episode of Blonde" and "Tart" are my favorites.

North (2003) - My favorite Elvis Costello album, which is funny because it doesn't really sound like an Elvis Costello album. A collection of gorgeous jazz ballads with melodies that might feel impenetrable at first. It explores the dissolution of a relationship and the beginnings of a new one, cycling through sorrow ("Somene Took the Words Away") infatuation ("When It Sings"), disbelief ("Can You Be True") and self-doubt ("When Green Eyes Turn Blue"). Gorgeous album, tragically underrated by EC fans.

The Delivery Man (2004) - The first proper introduction to The Imposters (basically The Attractions with a different bassist). A raucous, bluesy bunch of songs. "Bedlam" is a great example of what the album sounds like. If you're into Americana, you'll like this one. Or as Tom Waits described the album: "Grooves wide enough to put your foot in and the bass player is a gorilla of groove. Pete Thomas, still one of the best rock drummers alive. Diatribes and rants with steam and funk. It has locomotion and heat."

The River in Reverse (2006) - After Hurricane Katrina, EC went down to New Orleans and recorded this album with soul great Allen Toussaint, backed by The Imposters and the Crescent City Horns. A mix of new songs and covers from Allen's long career. Fun, soulful, and filled with righteous anger. The best song is the one that Allen sings lead on: "Who's Gonna Help Brother Get Further".

Momofuku (2008) - Another rock album with The Imposters, this one recorded kind of spontaneously across a few days. Jenny Lewis sings on a bunch of tracks. I've always seen this one as kind of a minor album, but looking at the track list I see a several great songs. "Stella Hurt" and "Song With Rose" in particular are among his very best.

Secret, Profane & Sugarcane (2009) - This was considered Elvis's "bluegrass" album, because it's a mostly acoustic album featuring a lot of bluegrass playing. I think only a couple of these songs technically qualify as bluegrass. One of the best sounding EC albums, too, the dobro sounds amazing. There's a mix of playful and sorrowful here, with a lots of rootsy and beautiful sounds. Some of the songs were taken from an unfinished opera he was writing about the life if Hans Christian Andersen, which is why some of them might sound a bit abstract.

The 2010s and 2020s:

National Ransom (2010) - A masterpiece. Another EC album that sounds ambitious in scope. Mixes the players form SP&S with The Imposters and other players like Marc Ribot. I love this album, and "A Voice in the Dark" might be my all-time favorite song. "Jimmie Standing in the Rain" too. And "You Hung the Moon." God, so many good ones

Wise Up Ghost (2013) - A collaboration with The Roots. I really enjoy this album but I don't listen to it often. Some of it is really upbeat and funky, others are kind of droning and more like vessels for EC's lyrics. The title track repurposes the strings from "Can You Be True" from North, which is really fun. "Refuse to Be Saved" and "Sugar Won't Work" are my favorites.

Look Now (2018) - An album with The Imposters that seeks to recreate the sound of 1960s pop music (fitting, then, that it won the Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Album). Very densely orchestrated album, lots of really lush strings. "Suspect My Tears" is really incredible.

Hey Clockface (2020) - Made in three different studios with three different groups of musicians, but holds together really well. Some jazz, some weirdo rock stuff, some pretty ballads. Good stuff

That's all for now

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Human interaction is important. To love, to laugh, to feel joy, for some even friendship. These are important to life, and a vital part of RM.


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 Post subject: Re: Elvis Costello
PostPosted: Tue September 14, 2021 5:03 pm 
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The prevailing message is that everyone should listen to all of his albums


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 Post subject: Re: Elvis Costello
PostPosted: Tue September 14, 2021 5:54 pm 
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Kevin Davis wrote:
The prevailing message is that everyone should listen to all of his albums

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Thanks, for saying something terrible.


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 Post subject: Re: Elvis Costello
PostPosted: Thu September 16, 2021 2:41 pm 
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Kevin Davis wrote:
That said, I don't hate GCW -- I like the songs you listed a lot, especially "Inch by Inch," and also "Room Without a Number" and (somewhat against my better judgement) "Sour Milk Cow Blues." I should give it a listen soon.


I listened to Goodbye Cruel World this morning and decided that "Sour Milk Cow Blues" is actually not a song I like "against my better judgment"; I think it's genuinely a fantastic song, a Toussaint-esque stomper on an album that could have used one or two more of them, with some sincere and raw lyrics that I've never really paid close attention to before. This song is officially a "sleeper favorite" of mine now.


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 Post subject: Re: Elvis Costello
PostPosted: Thu September 16, 2021 2:43 pm 
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Did you listen to Spanish Model? I'm obsessed with that version of "Chelsea"

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Human interaction is important. To love, to laugh, to feel joy, for some even friendship. These are important to life, and a vital part of RM.


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 Post subject: Re: Elvis Costello
PostPosted: Thu September 16, 2021 3:06 pm 
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Jorge wrote:
Did you listen to Spanish Model? I'm obsessed with that version of "Chelsea"


I just listened to "Chelsea" -- it's cool! It's weirdly faithful to original recording while still managing to feel like an entirely separate thing. It's kind of jarring how much the singer reminds me a lot of Tragic Kingdom era Gwen Stefani though.


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 Post subject: Re: Elvis Costello
PostPosted: Thu September 16, 2021 6:50 pm 
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I wonder what trag's opinion is of Elvis Costello?

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 Post subject: Re: Elvis Costello
PostPosted: Thu September 16, 2021 6:53 pm 
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E.H. Ruddock wrote:
I wonder what trag's opinion is of Elvis Costello?

love his first three records, generally have no idea what he's done since then but when i do hear the occasional song i am bored silly


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 Post subject: Re: Elvis Costello
PostPosted: Thu September 16, 2021 10:40 pm 
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:roll: "I like his early, funny ones"

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Human interaction is important. To love, to laugh, to feel joy, for some even friendship. These are important to life, and a vital part of RM.


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 Post subject: Re: Elvis Costello
PostPosted: Thu September 16, 2021 11:00 pm 
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I did a real shallow dive last year or the year before that maybe. I really liked the first two albums but then my interest wained. I must like pub rock. I made a little mix for my phone I visit on occasion.


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 Post subject: Re: Elvis Costello
PostPosted: Thu September 16, 2021 11:05 pm 
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Shit I just realized I left out Il Sogno (2004) but there was 0 chance anyone here was going to listen to it. It's a ballet score he wrote based on A Midsummer Night's Dream, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. It's nice but I never listen to it

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Anders wrote:
Human interaction is important. To love, to laugh, to feel joy, for some even friendship. These are important to life, and a vital part of RM.


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 Post subject: Re: Elvis Costello
PostPosted: Thu September 16, 2021 11:28 pm 
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Jorge wrote:
:roll: "I like his early, funny ones"

what do you mean that they're funny? This is not a Goodfellas bit.


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 Post subject: Re: Elvis Costello
PostPosted: Thu September 16, 2021 11:52 pm 
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It's a quote from a movie (not Goodfellas)

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