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Old 02-15-2009, 09:10 AM   #54 (permalink)
Bulldog
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Elvis Costello & the Brodsky Quartet
The Juliet Letters
1993, Warner Bros Records, Church Studios (London)

1. "Deliver Us" (Costello) 0:49
2. "For Other Eyes" (Paul Cassidy, Costello, Doug Phillips) 2:55
3. "Swine" (Cassidy, Costello) 2:08[/B]
4. "Expert Rites" (Costello) 2:23
5. "Dead Letter" (Cassidy) 2:18
6. "I Almost Had a Weakness" (Costello, Michael Thomas) 3:53
7. "Why?" (Ian Belton, Costello) 1:26
8. "Who Do You Think You Are?" (Costello, Michael Thomas) 3:28[/B]
9. "Taking My Life in Your Hands" (Cassidy, Costello, Jaqueline Thomas, M. Thomas) 3:20
10. "This Offer Is Unrepeatable" (Cassidy, Costello, Belton, Phillips, J. Thomas, M. Thomas) 3:12
11. "Dear Sweet Filthy World" (Belton, Costello, M. Thomas) 4:17
12. "The Letter Home" (Belton, Cassidy, Costello) 3:10
13. "Jacksons, Monk and Rowe" (Costello, M. Thomas) 3:43[/B]
14. "This Sad Burlesque" (Cassidy, Costello) 2:47
15. "Romeo's Seance"(Costello, M. Thomas) 3:32
16. "I Thought I'd Write to Juliet" (Costello) 4:07
17. "Last Post" (M. Thomas, traditional) 2:24
18. "The First to Leave" (Costello) 4:59
19. "Damnation's Cellar" (Costello) 3:25
20. "The Birds Will Still Be Singing" (Costello) 4:27


If you've been following this thread, what you'll have noticed is that from the recording of Spike onwards Costello had been moving away from his safety zone as an artist and into unchartered, uncertain artistic territory. Sacking the Attractions who, of course, recorded his best-known material with him, was fair evidence of this. He proceeded to record two very ambitious albums indeed, but even those could hardly prepare his audience (let alone his label) for what was to come next. Since the recording of Mighty Like a Rose, Costello had been harbouring a growing fascination with classical music. This, in part, manifested itself by his attending the concerts of his labelmates, the Brodsky Quartet. It wasn't long before he began to write music with them and subsequently tour with them. A full-length album was just around the corner.

Instead though of a fully-fledged album of classical music what's delivered is an interesting marrying of classical and baroque pop - basically the sound of a rockstar finding his feet in a completely new world of music. Though not always entirely successful, it does yield some very interesting results at the very least, and you've simply gotta give the chap at least some credit for having the guts to actually try and release a very strange kind of album for the times (certainly a gazillion miles away from the grunge DJs had coming out of their ears). It's also a wonder that that Warner Bros didn't sue Costello for making such uncommercial music (a'la Geffen and Neil Young about a decade earlier), let alone refuse to release the album.

Release it is, of course, what they did do though. As I say, the results are mixed in places. At times (such as on Swine and This Offer Is Unrepeatable) the man's voice seems to struggle a little bit to work in tandem with the music backing him up. Overall though, the vocals work well enough - for a start, we find Costello singing clearly and coherently again, bringing the lyrics (which are, in case you haven't noticed by now, one of the common strengths of his music) to the listener's immediate attention. The album as a whole ranges from decent enough (This Sad Burlesque, Who Do You Think You Are?) to music that's as good as anything Costello's sung (Romeo's Seance, the First To Leave and Jacksons, Monk and Rowe (which you'll find in the video in the post above this one) are brilliant pieces of work). A fine album, and a very daring step in a very daring direction for Costello as an artist. As I said earlier, even if this isn't really your sort of thing, you've got to admire the courage and commitment it took to take such a leap into this area of music. Overall though;
7/10


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