The Best of Elvis Costello: The First 10 Years
As the title implies, this collects the highlights from Elvis Costello’s first ten years and twelve albums — from 1977’s My Aim True through 1986’s Blood and Chocolate. During that time, Costello went through several artistic transformations, from angry new wave rocker (“Radio Radio”), to country stylist (a cover of George Jones’ “A Good Year for the Roses” with legendary country music producer Billy Sherrill), to acoustic balladeer (“Indoor Fireworks”), always serving up caustic lyrics (“Man Out of Time”) and frayed emotions (“I Want You”) with a dose of bitterness and regret. Costello’s encyclopedic knowledge of popular music informs his work. An excellent cover of Sam & Dave’s “I Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down” is given an amphetamine-fueled run-through, while his version of producer Nick Lowe’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding” is definitive. Throw in the sly valentine of “Alison,” the nervous tension underscoring “Watching the Detectives,” the relentless organ drive of “Pump It Up” and the shimmering piano arpeggios of “Oliver’s Army” and you’ve got a solid collection from one of music’s premier songwriters during his prime.