The Best of the First 10 Years
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Six years after the commencement of a major Elvis Costello reissue campaign at Rhino, his catalog transferred over to Universal, which had been releasing new Elvis music since 1998's Painted from Memory. Like every one of his previous two big catalog shifts — a campaign with Rykodisc/Demon in 1994, a jump to Rhino in 2001 — the 2007 series is preceded by a new hits collection, this time The Best of Elvis Costello: The First 10 Years, a 22-track collection of highlights that's pretty much exactly what it says it is. It is quite similar to the last previous single-disc collection, the 1994 Ryko/Demon set The Very Best of Elvis Costello and the Attractions, which also ran 22 tracks, 19 of which also appear on The First 10 Years. The three omissions — "Watch Your Step," "New Amsterdam," and "Love Field" — will not be missed by anybody looking for a new Costello comp in 2007, particularly because all three substitutions are better choices for the casual man: "New Lace Sleeves," "Almost Blue," and "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes," which bizarrely wasn't on the 1994 set. With these three songs rubbing shoulders with "Alison," "Watching the Detectives," "Pump It Up," "Oliver's Army," "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding," and all the other usual suspects, The Best of Elvis Costello: The First 10 Years winds up being the best single-disc summary and introduction to Costello's prime years.
Only the start
The first 10 years is the quintessential history of the Elvis Costello story. Songs like Watching the detectives and Oliver’s Army were big radio hits in Australia but lesser known tracks like Beyond Belief and Indoor Fireworks show the absolute genius of the man. The best thing is you can check out some of Elvis's later works and see he still has what it takes to be a true classic musician. Seen the guy 3 times live in Australia and he is like a bottle good red wine, just keeps getting better with age.
Without doubt the most heart wrenching, meaningful song i have ever heard. You can hear the pain and the music is spot on. Instead of chocolate this is the song i reach for (with the Streets dry your eyes). High rotation at my place recommend highly
To Sing Like A Byrd
Here is a simplified version of pop history: The BeaTles wrote great melodic pop songs; Dylan wrote fantastic lyrics. The Byrds played Dylan songs like they were The BeaTles. Then along came a guy who could weave both qualities together seemlessly: Declan McManus/Elvis Costello, a writer with an ear for a beautiful tune and mind which could create inventive lyrics with the metaphorical density of the best folk poets, dreaming up endless puns and clever wordplay as masterfully as Cole Porter doing cryptic crossword puzzles.
To be fair, he isn't the only descendant of the pioneers of the sixties able to scale such lofty heights in song. Tom Waits was doing it in the seventies and eighties too. But Elvis was the only one doing it with his historical feet placed firmly in the heritage of the British Invasion. New Wave they called it at first, or "The Second British Invasion" - a limiting term, particularly since Elvis has a soft spot for country music, but not out of the ball park for most of the songs here. Besides, The Flying Burrito Brothers Britpopped up country music in the late 60s and Elvis just reclaimed the throne on the outskirts of town for a little while.
His best albums are better than any singles collection, which is why this is only a 4 star affair for me, but as an introduction to the first 10 years it's as good as any other collection out there. Maybe one day there will be a box set...
Born: 25 August 1954 in Paddington, London, England
Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s
Top Albums and Songs by Elvis Costello
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