Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Finally, a Classic Treatment for Classic Costello Albums

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Finally, a Classic Treatment for Classic Costello Albums

Article excerpt

FOR A YEAR OR SO, Elvis Costello fans have been out of luck when they visited their record store in search of any of his back catalog. That's because the original deal Costello had with his old U.S. label, Columbia Records, ran out, and negotiations were under way to re-release his music with the respect it deserved.

Like most Americans, I fell in love with he music of Elvis Costello by listening to the LPs released on Columbia. But though I couldn't afford the more expensive and difficult to obtain import versions, I managed to hear them from time to time. Not being deaf, I could tell we weren't being served properly by Columbia. The imports, in addition to occasional different song listings, featured a much more prominent bass presence and an all-around deeper sound.

When CDs came around, Columbia didn't even bother to obtain the original master recordings and simply duplicated their tinny LPs in a medium that made them sound even worse.

Now, we're all in luck, because Costello has handed the job of reissuing his classic albums to Rykodisc, the label that did splendidly a few years back with the David Bowie catalog. The first three Costello albums are in stores now, either sold separately or packaged along with a bonus live recording in a deluxe box set called "2 1/2 Years." Everything else, from "Get Happy" on through "Blood and Chocolate" will be seeing the light of day over the next year.

Not content with merely making the new CDs sound as brilliant as they are musically exciting, Rykodisc has monkeyed around a bit with the content as well. They begin each disc with the original English LP running order, which in all three cases ("My Aim Is True," "This Year's Model," "Armed Forces") was different from that released on Columbia.

Then, they place whatever tracks were included on the American album that were not originally on the English version, followed by any singles released or recorded at the same time as the album. In the case of "My Aim Is True" and "This Year's Model," they also toss in demo recordings of songs both released and unreleased, to give us an idea of Costello's working process in those incredibly creative early days.

Many of the single and miscellaneous album tracks were compiled by Columbia to form the "Taking Liberties" album, but the demos are all previously unreleased. In all, nine extra tracks are included on "My Aim Is True," practically doubling its length.

It's funny that Costello was lumped with the New Wave movement in 1977, when this record first appeared, because, with hindsight, it's so easy to place him in a more classic rock lineage. The material on "My Aim Is True," recorded with the backing of an American rock band, Clover, harkens back to '50s rock 'n' roll far more often than not. Aside from the angry sentiments, which did fit with the punk ethos of the day, songs such as "Mystery Dance" or "Miracle Man" could easily have come out 20 years before. …

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