The thinking man's (person's) rock star!! Here he is at his best. Top notch music put to his thought provoking lyrics. Costello is one of the most well respected songwriters today, but it took years for him to earn his status. His early work, which is some of his best, has been all but ignored. Here he is still the angry young man who can slap you in the face with his biting lyrics but at the same time lull you with music that is so easy on your ears.
The album opens with "Accidents Will Happen". This is a catchy little tune with a great piano accompaniment. This is one of his best songs musically. In his first lyrical twist he uses the phrase "Your mind is made up, but your mouth is undone" in describing the girl in the story and then reverses it to show the way that a woman can change her mind and this is how an accident can happen!
"Senior Service" is the next song. A little short bit of angst set against a great melody. Listen here again for the signature twist of the lyrics.
The next song "Oliver's Army", caused a bit of a stir with some of the lyrics. His supposed use of a racial slur was misinterpreted by some. "All it takes one itchy trigger, one more widow, one less white nig*er". He is talking about soldiers at war. Still one of the really good songs on this album. The piano work here is fantastic. Another great Costello tune!
"Big Boys" is the next song. Here he uses his lyrical ability to perfection. "I was done on one knee/stroking her vanity". This song uses some very effective tempo changes to make a point and it works so well!
A harpsichord puts you at ease for the next song "Green Shirt". This is a haunting number with a very disturbing feel to it. Elvis never lets you get comfortable listening to this one. He really makes your skin crawl with this song! You also get those fantastic lyrics again. Just listen to how he describes a television! Great stuff.
Next up is the song "Party Girl". A heavy guitar beginning leads you into this superb arrangement. One of his most melodic songs. The song keeps building to a fantastic finale. Another strong song.
"Goon Squad" is the angry type of song that Costello does so well. He bites your head off with the lyrics but keeps you calm with the compelling melody.
"Busy Bodies" is a great little rocker. This is one song where I would say you want to listen to what the band is doing. They are really playing their hearts out. The drummer is working overtime and the keyboards provide a great background. This is one well crafted song.
A trip to the circus! "Sunday's Best is as close as you get to filler on this album. Still the lyrics are very engaging. Just a very weird little tune. Here again, he had a little trouble with some who said he used another racial slur with the term "darkies".
"Moods For Moderns" is a funky piece that will have you dancing in no time! I love the melody line of this song. A great song again by Costello. This should be a must at all parties!
I would be afraid to be in Elvis's "Chemistry Class"! This song is a great ode to women. Maybe a little sexist on his part but this song is so good and the lyrics are so great, who cares! Just listen and you will have to smile at his play on words here.
"Two Little Hitlers" is a neat rocker about social discord. The irony of the lyrics are not lost in the terrific melody. Another example of his great ability! Also listen to the rhythm section on this one. There is a great bass line on this song!
Now comes what I consider one of Costello's best songs. It never received much notice but if you listen to this it has all the elements of a great song. "(What's So Funny 'bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?" is a great piece musically and lyrically. A truly great rock and roll song that should be more popular. One note about this song, it originally was the B side of a single by Nick Lowe!
The rest of this CD is added material from the vinyl version.
The first song is a remake of "My Funny Valentine". You will get a lot more of this type of thing later on in his career. Too bad!!
Next is "Tiny Steps". This song was on the album "This Year's Model". A good version here that almost mimics the original.
"Clean Money" is an all out bit of punk. It eventually made it on a later album in a very toned down version. Get this one!!
"Talking In The Dark" is another rocker that was deemed to heavy for this album. Again the lyrical genius of Costello shines here. Worth a listen without a doubt.
The next one is called "Wednesday Week". Starts out as a very hard rocker than does an about face in the middle of the song to an acoustic piece. This also appeared on a later album, Get Happy.
Next we get three "live" songs. The first is a great version of "Accidents Will Happen". Here he plays it with only a piano as backing. It completely changes the complexion of this song. Listen to the first one and then this one you will really be surprised! It comes out much more powerful with the only accompaniment being the piano!
Next is the live version of "Alison". This is his first hit and here it also gets some piano to back it. The keyboards really add to the overall flavor of this song. I like this version a lot.
Last we have the live version of "Watching The Detectives". Still one of his best songs. Here they pump it up a little and it makes the song a little bit more menacing! This one, is still one of his greatest lyrical pieces also.
So there you have it. One of the great talents to come along in a long time playing some of his best material. What more could you ask for? This Elvis has done as much for this generations music, as the other Elvis did for his generations!
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About the reviewer
I am an avid music buff and write reviews for many sites. I have managed bands and frequent concerts in Michigan and photograph them. If it is good music, I will be there!