When I Was Cruelby Elvis Costello
Just when recent forays into Broadway-styled pop (Painted from Memory) and fringe classical music (For the Stars) made it seem like the artist formerly known as Declan McManus had laid his angry-young-man persona to rest once and for all, along comes this raw-nerved, vein-popping collection of songs that prove Elvis is very much in touch with his inner nasty man. It's almost nostalgic, in some sense, to hear Costello spit out clipped, cutting phrases as his bandmates kick up a cloud of new wave dust on sneer-fests like "Tear Your Own Head Off" and "Dissolve." He's found some new guises for that old attitude, however, making it go global on "15 Petals," which parries the choruses with klezmer-styled horns, and trotting out the melodica to give "Soul for Hire" an ominous, "Watching the Detectives"-like oomph. Fortunately, Costello doesn't attempt to pretend the last two decades never happened at all: His concerns have grown more adult -- even if he is every bit as obsessive and compulsive about pondering them. The "Spooky Girlfriend" of the song so titled is far more richly drawn than the off-putting cuties of My Aim Is True, for instance. Likewise, the literary tenor of mini-short stories like "Daddy Can I Turn This?" and the title track (which employs an eerie vocal loop, courtesy of Italian pop diva Mina) will prompt as much footnoting as foot-tapping. Given Costello's propensity for skipping from concept to concept, it may be too soon to call this a return to form. It is, at the very least, a welcome stopover at a rejuvenating port of call.
- Release Date:
Performance CreditsElvis Costello Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Harmonica,Electric Bass,Cymbals,Electric Guitar,Harmonium,Vocals,Background Vocals,Baritone,Melodica,spanish guitar,fender rhodes,Piano (Grand),Fender Jazz Bass,Fender Telecaster,Guitar Loops
Steve Nieve Keyboards,Hammond Organ,Clavinet,Melodica,Vibes,Piano (Grand),Pianette,Vox Continental
Davey Faragher Bass
Curtis Fowlkes Trombone
Steve Kennedy Background Vocals
Roy Nathanson Alto Saxophone
Pete Thomas Percussion,Drums,Tambourine,Shaker
Jay Rodriguez Tenor Saxophone
Leo Pearson Tabla,Guiro
Technical CreditsElvis Costello Producer,Horn Arrangements
Kevin Killen Engineer
Steve Averill Art Direction
Amelia Stein Portrait Photography
Ciaran Cahill Producer,Engineer
Leo Pearson Producer,Rhythm Production
Kieran Lynch Producer
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**** Bacharach was too much for me. This is a return to Elvis at his snarlingly arch best. The lyrics are, of course, clever, and pay off attentive listening. In relation to the Allmusic Guide review, could I point out that ''to plug'' means ''to promote'', something a young Elvis might have done when talking to a shaven headed seaside thug of a newspaper man? Obssessive listening can pay off :)
I'm not sure what the folks from All Music were listening to, but in the title track Elvis does NOT mention a rectal plug. The verse goes ''You were a spoiled child with a record to plug, and I was a shaven-headed sea-side thug''. Perhaps the folks at All Music have had a Freudian slip, but Elvis has not.
Great disc! It's great to hear him knocking off some Pop/R&R tracks.
Elvis Costello has been making great music since the early 70's, but it has been quite a long time since Costello created such a great rock album. At a time when 70's music seems to be booming, Costello brings a very rock oriented album, adding samples and beat box sounds to modernize his music. Thus the album sounds like the old Costello that rocked, while incorporating some modern elements to make it in with the times. Songs like ''Tart'' and ''Alibi'' are some of the best that Elvis Costello has ever done, and his guitar sounds amazing all throughout the album! His lyrics are very witty too with lines such as ''I love you just as much as I hate your guts,'' as we also learn he is not afraid to speak his mind. A must buy for any fan of rock & roll music.
Unless something else mighty good comes along this gets my vote for album of the year.I can't stop listening to it.Episode of Blonde and Spooky Girl are my favorite songs on this CD,but they are all great.Thanks Elvis!
E.C. isnt ''returning'' to anything. Astute listeners will note a familiar continuity and elements of style in this, his latest. Most notable is his continued collaboration with Steve Nieve, whose musical genius is as subtle (and/or over the top) and clever as E.C.'s lyrics.
By far one of EC's best collection of tunes in years. A roller coaster of similes, twisted words, and of course, catchy hooks!! This album is a must for all fans, from Last Years Model to Spike to All This Useless Beauty. War Buddy Holly, Fender JazzMasters, and ''Watching The Detectives''! It deserves 4 1/2 Stars or more!
...only to be kind, I'm sure. Buy this record and enjoy it many times over. One question though: While he's gazing out My Little Blue Window, is he sitting down in the Blue Chair...wearing his favorite Green Shirt...and Red Shoes...?