Monday, June 16, 2008

TVD's Daily Wax | Elvis Costello "Spike"

"...a solid return to form." How many times have you read that in a review of some release from an artist with a long, established career which...let's just say, had more valleys than peaks for a while? Admittedly, amid a long career, each release can't always be a gem...and this week we'll take a look at a few mid-course corrections that seemed to right the ship for a period of time.

Trusty ol' Trouser Press supplies the background: "Costello bills himself as The Beloved Entertainer — stuffed and mounted — on the front cover of Spike, his first new album since Blood & Chocolate. Following King of America's blueprint, each of the fifteen tracks employs a different assortment of players, from the Dirty Dozen Brass Band (on "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror" and "Stalin Malone") to Paul McCartney (on the tender and touching "Veronica," one of two songs he and Costello co-wrote). Regardless of which sort of tasteful arrangement (Irish folk, acoustic pop, jazz, rock, jagged noise) or star collaborator (Chrissie Hynde, Christy Moore, Benmont Tench) he chooses for any individual song, however, the record is a testament to Costello's complete mastery. For most of the record, Costello is in rare form, conversing with the deity ("God's Comic"), ripping the lynch-mob mentality in a fact-based tale ("Let Him Dangle"), sending a withering blast at Margaret Thatcher ("Tramp the Dirt Down") and wallowing in romantic regrets ("Baby Plays Around," whose joint marital authorship lends a reassuring fictional sense to its troubled lyrics). For concerned Attractions fans, Pete Thomas puts in an appearance on one solitary song."

I can hear the EC fanatics now, "Huh - wha? Elvis NEVER had a creative career slump!" True, perhaps--but "Spike" was a straight up the center, radio and MTV-supported "...solid return to form." Right?

Elvis Costello - Deep Dark Truthful Mirror (Mp3)
Elvis Costello - Let Him Dangle (Mp3)
Elvis Costello - Pads, Paws And Claws (Mp3)
Elvis Costello - Tramp The Dirt Down (Mp3)
Elvis Costello - Veronica (Mp3)


Matt said...

Probably my most played EC record afterIbMePdErRoIoAmL.

A total classic.

Anonymous said...

Hmm... bought the album, saw the tour. It was okay at the time and not as good now. Yes, it had its hit, but a return to form? I'm not sure Elvis ever returned to form after Imperial Bedroom. HOWEVER, saw him live last year with Steve Nieve and he killed. Killed. So there's that. shamus

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I like Spike a lot although, again, not as much as Imperial Bedroom. But then I like Goodbye Cruel World, so...

Anonymous said...

Obviously those who think Elvis Costello never had a 'creative career slump' didn't waste their money on 'North'.

Anonymous said...

Ah, for my money, one of the most brilliant musicians, ever.

Maybe it's his musical honesty, I don't like every song he's written, but I can't say there is a bad one in the bunch.