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Old 05-18-2009, 01:08 PM   #81 (permalink)
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I will be forever grateful towards this thread and your posts for inticing me into buying a couple of these albums and giving them a run through. To be totally honest, I was very suspect about spending money on an artist I had no music from prior. Boy, was I happy when I listened to them...

"My Aim Is True" was the stand-out personally!!!! Thanks for a great thread.

My Blog (album of the day): http://musicfromthesouth.blogspot.com
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Old 05-18-2009, 02:02 PM   #82 (permalink)
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By the way, if anyone else feels strongly enough about any Costello album to review it, feel free to put it in this thread. It can be a paragraph or two long, whatever - it doesn't have to be as boring and long-winded as this next one's gonna be (and the more it contradicts my opinion the better ).

The Delivery Man
2004, Lost Highway Records, Sweet Tea (Oxford, MS), Delta Recording (Clarksdale, MS), Village Recorders (LA) & Ocean Way Studios

Thankfully for all concerned, if North represented a blip in Costello's discography, it was certainly a very brief one. With his desire to croon in working men's clubs firmly behind him, Elvis Costello got the Imposters together again and went about another, considerably less-rushed studio project. The idea behind what ended up as his 21st album which he presented to Lost Highway, his new label, had been knocking about the back of his head for a good number of years beforehand. This is idea was that of a concept album about a delivery man (see what he did there?) working in the American south, with a narrative following him on his journeys and through his relationships with various women. In order to make it a bit more complicated than that, Costello made the decision to mix up the tracklisting so that that narrative wasn't in a linear form. Also, to further steer this record away from being a bona fide concept album, songs were dropped from the final running order if they seemed to reveal too much about the characters or the story.

So, in other words, the whole concept album idea was basically done away with entirely during the album's production. What we have is the first Costello album in many moons to not tread any new ground and instead serve as a retrospective look at all the many styles that he'd covered over the last 27 years of his recording career that he'd done a particularly good job with. Rock 'n' roll, soul, folk, country, bluegrass, torch music - they're all here in some form or another. On top of all that, it's one of his better albums for sure.

1. Button My Lip
Things start on a vaguely left-of-field note. On top of Pete Thomas' rolling, repetitive drumbeat, Davey Farragher's similarly hypnotic bassline and Steve Nieve's freewheeling piano, there's no obvious melody and no truly catchy hooks to grab onto when it comes to understanding the song, be that in the music or the lyrics. It's an odd little abrasive rocker, and certainly not like most of the album ahead of it, but it works well enough as an opening track. 6/10

2. Country Darkness
With it's prominent piano lines, sparse and gentle rhythm and the return of Costello's old buddy John McPhee (who he'd not worked with since 1981's Almost Blue) on the pedal steel guitar, this marks the return of country rock into his back-catalogue. With it's fascinating key changes and well-worked lyrics about 'this tattered document - a mystery you can solve - some burnt out filament - flies still buzzing around the bulb', it's clear that the guy's still got it. Great song this.

3. There's a Story In Your Voice
Featuring the vocal talents of a certain Lucinda Williams (who chips in with the odd verse here and there), she and Costello fit surprisingly well together as a vocal duet over this very catchy and upbeat song.

4. Either Side Of the Same Town
Here lies the first true highlight of the album, in the form of an absolutely gorgeous and melodic soul-flavoured tune. Considering the kind of nasal voice Costello's known for, it's surprising how well this song turned out, which probably owes no small favour to Davey Farragher's sweet backing vocal during each chorus (which is one strength I think the Imposters have over the Attractions - Farragher is a much better singer than Bruce Thomas ever was). One of the very best moments in Costello's recording career.

5. Bedlam
Using the same old skewiff rhythms, quickfire vocal delivery and disjointed blasts of guitar, this here's a kind of sister song to Button My Lip. It all works very well over the rambling lyric, being a fairly confrontational piece of music and another one of the louder moments on the album.

6. The Delivery Man
Being the title track and all, whatever concept there might have been in mind for this album at whatever point is blankly obvious here, given the mentions of the three women in the delivery man's life (one of whom, Ivy, has a song half-named after her a bit later on), all it's mentions of 'a humble delivery man' and the like, the yarn-spinning lyric is a fascinating enough piece of poetry in itself. It's done a whole load of good by the slow, reined-in music behind it too. The final refrain of 'in a certain light he looked like Elvis, in a certain way he seemed like Jesus' is an interesting little character portrait as well, and one that makes you wonder what this album's narrative would read like in its linear form.

7. Monkey To Man
As the sole single release around these parts, this is definitely one of the catchiest and most instantly-memorable moments on the album. With that wonderful 8-note riff it's another case for Elvis Costello's standing as one of the more understated rhythm guitarists out there, not to mention another case for his being a genuinely brilliant songwriter and performer. One of the more simplistic rockers on the album, and a very good song indeed for it. Gotta love that video too.

8. Nothing Clings Like Ivy
To juxtapose it nicely though is this beautiful little slow-burner, rolling by on the back of Nieve's gentle piano tones and another one of the more obviously concept-heavy lyrics. Wonderful song, and it's one of a few to feature the gorgeous tones of Emmylou Harris helping out with the harmony vocal here.

9. The Name Of This Thing Is Not Love
From the softness of the ballad before it, this one kind of leaps out of the quiet with a much more up-tempo, guitar-and-piano led arrangement to its name. As most of Costello's better works do, there's a very nice key change for the 'he thinks of her still - although you'd never guess' verse, making for another one of the higher-ranking moments on this album.

10. Heart-Shaped Bruise
Another country-flavoured tune here, and another one to feature vocal harmonies with Emmylou Harris (she gets to sing a verse too ) as well as John McPhee's pedal steel, it's a similar kind of song to Country Darkness before it, and around about the same level of quality too.

11. She's Pulling Out the Pin
Using its wurlitzer organ tones and glockenspiel to set up a strange kind of atmosphere before evolving into a more coherent rocker with each chorus, this is a fairly strange song alongside its bedfellows. It's a wonderful package of Costello at his best basically - very well-composed, written and performed song, and with a nice little piano solo as well.

12. Needle Time
It's followed though by probably the weakest song on the album. It's a basic little rocker, doesn't exactly go anywhere very interesting and isn't really one of Costello's best.

13. The Judgement
It's more than made up for by what comes next though. This terrific, soulful tune was actually given to some bloke called Solomon Burke before Costello decided to record the song for himself. It's another example of the Imposters really showing their mettle as a backing band, and doing another wonderful set of lyrics some real justice, making for another one of Costello's finest.

14. The Scarlet Tide
The album ends on a more lo-fi note with this pretty little folk ballad (again featuring a gorgeous vocal harmony with Emmylou Harris).

To conclude...
This here is definitely one of Elvis Costello's better albums. Given that it's something of a guided tour through the many sounds of his discography before it, the juxtapositions in sound do make it seem a tiny bit of a jumble. Nevertheless, this was truly one of his best albums in years which, despite the occasional dud, showed off all the strengths of Costello's songwriting talent. A razor-sharp and very relieving (given the sludge that came before it) return to form. It's not quite among his best, but I'd certainly recommend it to anyone looking to get into the guy.

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Old 05-18-2009, 02:36 PM   #83 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by zeppy111 View Post
I will be forever grateful towards this thread and your posts for inticing me into buying a couple of these albums and giving them a run through. To be totally honest, I was very suspect about spending money on an artist I had no music from prior. Boy, was I happy when I listened to them...

"My Aim Is True" was the stand-out personally!!!! Thanks for a great thread.
No probs, besides the nauseating amount of time I spend typing the reviews up

My Aim Is True is probably the best starting point, so good call on getting hold of that. I've said before that I don't think it's his best, but still a very good album indeed.

Oh, and sorry for the double-post mods
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Old 05-20-2009, 10:32 PM   #84 (permalink)
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My post isnt't directed at a certian ablum but more Costello in a Whole....

I always put him off growing up because I thought he was just another Late 70's and 80's music that was just to popish for me(I was born in 84) . But about 2 years ago I went and seen Bob Dylan with Elvis Costello, just see to see the great Bob Dylan....

Costello blew me away. He played pure acoustic. Loved every bit of it. Hes a poet. I get home just to find out he doesn't have a acoustic CD. After buying his greatest hits... I really hate the 80's sound that he has.

Just found out he has a Acoustic CD being released June 2nd. I am ready for it. just sucks there no Acoustic Alison being released with it. Are there any like unknown live acoustic recordings I don't know about?
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Old 05-21-2009, 09:43 AM   #85 (permalink)
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Haven't heard about an acoustic CD, but I do know his new album's due out around early June (I think it's June 2nd in the US and June 9th in the UK or something). Here's a nice article on it;

Elvis Costello - new album & 2009 Tour Dates (Beacon Theatre, Count Basie, Telluride & Bonnaroo) - BrooklynVegan

I take it the 80s sound you're referring to is on his Punch the Clock and Goodbye Cruel World albums? Because if so, you're right, those albums do suck.
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Old 05-24-2009, 04:19 PM   #86 (permalink)
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Starting to get near the end of this now...

Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint
The River In Reverse
2006, Universal Records, Sunset Sound (LA) & Piety Street Studios (New Orleans)

With another sizeable critical and moderate commercial success under his belt (seeing as the Delivery Man received across-the-board praise in the media), is wasn't so long 'til Elvis Costello and the Imposters finished touring and were back in the studio again. This time, again, there was a very different agenda to the whole thing.

Although Costello and Allen Toussaint (one of the most influential figures in New Orleans jazz and R&B for those not in the know) had worked together before on a song (the excellent Deep Dark Truthful Mirror way back when during the Spike sessions), it wasn't until late 2005 that they collaborated again. This was when Costello sang Toussaint's Freedom For the Stallion at the encore of the latter's concert. That November, the two took to the studio to record a full-length album together. Toussaint took his backing band, the Crescent City Horns, with him while Costello brought the Imposters along for the ride. As a result of the two-week sessions in LA and New Orleans, five co-writes were recorded, along with seven of Toussaint's old hits and one Costello composition, twelve of which saw Costello taking up the lead vocal and Toussaint the backing, and vice versa for the odd one out. Also, it's quite remarkable how well they both pulled it off.

1. On Your Way Down [Toussaint]
The piano lines which open the album set up what we can expect from the rest of it very nicely, wheeling into the silence as they do before the low key horns and rhythm guitar kick the song into action. It's also a sign of things to come in that Costello does a surprisingly good job of singing over an unusually jazzy backing track by his standards. It's a nice laid back opening to the album and a decent track overall. 7/10

2. Nearer To You [Toussaint]
From the smoky jazz of the opening track, this rendition of another Toussaint oldie shows us the other side of this album's sound, that being the much more soul/r'n'b-tinged one, which suits the sweet lovesong lyric nicely. Again, it's another surprise in how good a job Costello does in singing this kind of song, with the backing vocals from Toussaint and bassist Davey Farragher doing the soulfulness of this tune no small favours. 7/10

3. Tears, Tears and More Tears [Toussaint]
Yet another side of this album's sound would be a much livelier kind of New Orleans jazz, such as on this very impressive cut. Over an infectious horn arrangement and an interesting combo of good old Steve Nieve's hammond organ and Toussaint's marvellous performance behind the piano keyboard, it ends the opening show of the versatility of the sound that Costello and Toussaint had created (without even getting to their co-writes, which is quite something if you think about it). 8/10

4. The Sharpest Thorn [Costello/Toussaint]
The first Costello/Toussaint co-write is this slower-burning and kind of soulful number, and is a real show of the great writing partnership that the pair of them made, as together they fashioned a reined-in and tight yet interesting backing track. The fact that Costello had his part in writing the lyrics brings that side of the songwriting to one's attention for the first time, with fairly memorable pieces of wordplay, particularly...

'So Good and Evil were having a fight
It last much longer than any one night
It may last longer than a life
And turn a mistress into a wife'

5. Who's Gonna Help Brother Get Further? [Toussaint]
Another very lively cut this, what makes this particularly unique is that it's the only song on the album for which Toussaint takes up the lead vocal. It must be said, he's got a terrific voice which really gives the music that much more swing and panache. It's a wonderful piece of music and, although the live version in the video lacks the horn figure that makes it that great, it's still nice enough all the same. 10/10

6. The River In Reverse [Costello]
The only song which Costello composed alone to be recorded here, it sounds pretty much as you'd expect it to (not that that's a bad thing at all). For the first time the guitar is brought to the front of the mix and is augmented here and there by the Crescent City Horns (to keep it in line with the album's overall sound presumably), as the focus of the title track is on a great ramble of a lyric;

'Are your arms too weak to lift?
Another shovel on the graveyard shift
Here comes the flood if you catch my drift
Where the things they promised are not a gift'

^ Just one of my personal highlights there. 8/10

7. Freedom For the Stallion [Toussaint]
As I mentioned way back, it was the pair of songwriters collaborating in this tune live which sparked off the whole full-length album idea. It's a beautiful piece of slow-burning jazz with a provocative blues lyric and it's one of the album highlights for sure. 9/10

8. Broken Promise Land [Costello/Toussaint]
From there the soundscape takes a turn for the more sinister, as the horn figure, Nieve's organ chords and Toussaint's piano give this tune a deceptive kind of jazzy swing before a superb Costello lyric comes into the equation. The melody for the chorus is just wonderful too. If it weren't for the fact it's a tad overlong I'd personally rate it higher. 7/10

9. Ascension Day [Costello/Byrd/Toussaint]
Seemingly the red herring of the tracklisting, given that it's Toussaint's piano and Costello's vocal by themselves, this actually makes for one the very best songs Costello's had a part in writing. The beautiful piano gives the song an almost wintry edge and does a world of good in tandem with Costello's lyrics;

'Not a soul was stirring
Not a bird was singing, at least not within my hearing
I was five minutes past caring
Standing in the road just staring'

Dunno what you lot think, but the imagery in the words really does elevate this song to greatness. One of my favourites this. 10/10

10. International Echo [Costello/Toussaint]
This cut again finds all the more uptempo elements of this album's sound full swing again (if you'll pardon the pun - you'll get it if you listen to the track I guess). The Imposters do a terrific job of providing the horns, piano and vocals to really make another great song their own. Supoib! 9/10

11. All These Things [Toussaint]
What holds this album back from being truly fantastic though are the two songs which follow it. For once the horn arrangements seem uninspired and the fact that Toussaint's piano is far too reined-in doesn't really make for a very good song. 5/10

12. Wonder Woman [Toussaint]
Ditto for this one unfortunately. 5/10

13. Six-Fingered Man [Costello/Toussaint]
And then there's this. I hate to sound like some randy fanboy here, but everything about this song is just absolutely magnificent. The playful wordplay in the lyrics, the soulful backing vocals from Farragher and Toussaint, not to mention the latter's piano contributions, Nieve's backing it up behind the organ keyboard, the brass augmentations - in tandem with Costello's brilliant rhythm guitar (he even indulges us a with a solo), it all makes for a marvelous and truly uplifting piece of music. This could very well be my favourite song that Costello's ever sung. 11/10

To conclude...
Probably the most successful genre experiment Costello had undertaken in years. Given that both he and Toussaint came from such different musical backgrounds, the ease with which they gel as performers and writers is amazing. All in all, this is definitely among the man's best. There are flaws though, which is why I won't rate any higher than 9. For a start, there are two duff space-fillers which really shouldn't have made the album. Secondly, if there's one glaring drawback when it comes to this album, it's that Toussaint only takes the lead vocal once. Given that he has such a terrific voice, had he sung more of his own songs this album could have been even better. Overall though, this is definitely among the finest albums you'll hear with Elvis Costello's name on it. As with a lot of his music though, I guess it all depends how much time you have for his vocal trademark.


This song was never recorded for the album, but I just love how it's executed and thought I'd share it anyway. For me it illustrates what a great partnership these two made.
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Old 05-25-2009, 05:29 PM   #87 (permalink)
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Early start tomorrow, so I may as well lull myself to sleep by finishing off this thread...

2008, Universal Records, Sound City Studios (Van Nuys, CA)

1. No Hiding Place
2. American Gangster Time
3. Turpentine
4. Harry Worth
5. Drum and Bone
6. Flutter and Wow
7. Stella Hurt
8. Mr. Feathers
9. My Three Sons
10. Song with Rose [Costello/Cash]
11. Pardon Me Madam, My Name Is Eve [Costello/Lynn]
12. Go Away

Following his four fairly experimental albums this side of the second millennium, when Elvis Costello and the Imposters took to the studio again in February 2008, they decided to opt for a much more basic approach to recording. Having at first become a bit sick of recording (and sworn never to do an album again), it took a duet with Jenny Lewis (formerly of Rilo Kiley fame) on her solo album Acid Tongue to reinvigorate his passion for the recording process. Taking a bunch of new songs and a couple of co-writes with fellow singer-songwriters Loretta Lynn and Rosanne Cash (eldest daughter of someone called Johnny Cash, dunno if you've heard of him before) into the studio with his faithful backing band, a very stripped-down and back-to-basics sound was fashioned. It practically came out of nowhere too - the very existence of this album wasn't made public until way after the sessions and just under a month before it's official release.

The album was dedicated to (and, of course, named after) Momofuku Ando - the inventor of the cup noodle who'd died the previous year at the ripe old age of 97. Depending on how far you want to look into it, I guess you could say the whole 'just-add-water' ethic of cup noodles could be applied to this album, given that it's kind of a reflection of the simplicity of the overall sound. As I said earlier, there's no fancy stuff like New Orleans jazz, sampled drum loops or blue-eyed soul here - just a bunch of musicians who'd been round the block many many times beating out a toe-tapping, red raw rock 'n' roll sound with a few elements of new wave thrown in. It's Elvis Costello and the Imposters (and the occasional guest such as Los Lobos' David Hidalgo, Pete Thomas' daughter Tennessee and the aforementioned Jenny Lewis) simply making the music they love to play. The only decent-quality video I could find should give you as good an idea as any of what the whole album sounds like. It's the sound of a very satisfied (rather than self-satisfied) musicians just banging out a few tunes in the studio with virtually no adornments - as far as I know, every song was recorded live. It certainly sounds like it with a lot of the songs' tendencies to go off on improvisational instrumental tangents.

To tell you the truth though, I was a little disappointed when this album came out. It's probably something to do with the fact that I loved When I Was Cruel, the Delivery Man and the River In Reverse and was looking forward to another album of that kind of ambitious nature, but I do remember feeling let down when I got this home from the CD shop a day or so after its release. There aren't any bad songs on there by any stretch of the imagination. All of them are very well-played with some very fine lyrics (as per norm), but every song is just a little too undercooked for me to lump any of them in with Costello's best. There are some very good songs, such as the rollicking American Gangster Time, the catchy Flutter and Wow and the pensive My Three Sons, but nothing I'd call truly brilliant (unlike, say, Six-Fingered Man, Either Side Of the Same Town or Episode Of Blonde for example). They all seem a little too undercooked for me.

It's true that it's just Elvis Costello and the Imposters doing what they want in the studio, and that's admirable enough, but if this album was given a bit more thought and time during the recording process, I'd probably be rating it a lot higher. All in all, it's a decent album, but nothing truly remarkable (unlike the two that preceded it).


And like that, I'm finished! Well, at least until I've formed a coherent opinion about the new one anyway. I hope you've found my reviews vaguely readable. If any of them have swayed into getting an album or two then bonus cool points to you.

Now, I've just gotta twiddle my thumbs 'til I can think of another idea for a thread I can drag on for a few months. Ho hum...
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Old 06-02-2009, 03:19 PM   #88 (permalink)
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The Bootleg Corner

I've listened to the new album so, while I give it a few more goes before reviewing it here, I might as well get started posting my favourite bootlegs. This part of the thread will be added to whenever I feel like it basically.

The first one I'll post is Elvis Costello and Steve Nieve's unplugged performance for VH1 Storytellers in 1997. Given that it evidently went out on TV, the sound quality is top-notch and there are some surprisingly effective, stripped-down, guitar-and-piano renditions of a lot of the old hits.

Tracks 1-12 are all from the VH1 Storytellers gig. I have absolutely no idea where the rest of them are from though. Party Party is a rarity recorded (I presume) around the date of the gig, while Psycho and the Imposter are a couple of live renditions completely unconnected with the rest of the bootleg and thrown in at random. Tracks 15-18 are outtakes from Almost Blue.

Here it is anyway. Click the picture for the download link...

Elvis Costello & Steve Nieve - VH1 Storytellers Unplugged, 1997

1. Baby, It's You
2. Accidents Will Happen
3. [dialogue]
4. Why Can't a Man Stand Alone?
5. Mistress and Maid
6. Veronica
7. Alison
8. Almost Blue
9. Watching the Detectives
10. All This Useless Beauty
11. I Want To Vanish
12. Accidents Will Happen [string version]
13. Psycho
14. Party Party
15. I'm Your Toy
16. My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You
17. Blues Keep Calling
18. Honky Tonk Girl
19. The Imposter
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Old 06-03-2009, 06:30 AM   #89 (permalink)
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The Bootleg Corner

Having done a bit more research, that Party Party song on the VH1 bootleg was actually written and recorded for the soundtrack to a film of the same name and released as a single to promote it in November 1982.

Anyway, item #2 is Elvis Costello and the Imposters' appearance on KCRW 89.9's Morning Becomes Eclectic show on May 17th 2002. It's very interesting in that it's a series of nice, laid-back interviews, live performances and intriguing remixes of songs from When I Was Cruel, all of which offers a very good insight into what was going on with Costello in a musical sense at the time.

Elvis Costello & the Imposters - Live At Morning Becomes Eclectic, 17/5/02

1. Interview 1
2. When I Was Cruel 2 [remix]
3. Interview 2
4. Spooky Girlfriend
5. Interview 3
6. Tart
7. Interview 4
8. Dust
9. Interview 5
10. When I Was Cruel 2
11. Interview 6
12. Oh Well
13. 15 Petals
14. Interview 7
15. Tear Off Your Own Head (It's a Doll Revolution)
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Old 06-03-2009, 11:08 AM   #90 (permalink)
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Fantastic thread, Bulldog. I have a few videos to share.

Elvis and Fiona Apple perform "I Want You." Elvis plays some badass guitar on this one

Elvis's first television appearance. Only a small part of this appears on his official DVD 'THe Right Spectacle'. The original master tape was wiped.

Elvis and the Attactions perform I Don't Want to Go to Chelsea (1978). My God.. I forgot what a good live band the Attractions were, until I watched this video.
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