Friday, August 7, 2015

"E.C.": THE WEEKEND MIX



As if you didn't see this coming, here is a post-2001 playlist of Elvis Costello.

A lot has been said already, so I will only add this final thought.

I have been listening to Elvis Costello consistently since his debut and to this day, even after my comments about it being a "chore," I still look forward to anything the man has to say. But hearing today's playlist as a whole, I noticed something I hadn't quite grasped before. He sounds like a completely different artist than when he began. I don't think you can say that about too many. Not about the Stones or McCartney or my boy Bowie.

The slow progression from "My Aim Is True" to the present day didn't hit me quite as hard while listening to EC's records as they came along. This mix shed new light on this artist. He is not the man he was when he began.

Listen, if you want.

TRACKLIST:

Tear Off Your Own Head
No Hiding Place
Impatience
The River In Reverse
Toledo
Sulphur To Sugarcane
Bedlam
Song With Rose
She Handed Me A Mirror
When I Was Cruel No. 2
Sugar Won't Work
This House Is Empty Now
Go Away
God Give Me Strength
The Scarlet Tide

zip

12 comments:

William Repsher said...

Not so sure about the "completely different artist" proposition. Just the ones you mentioned. Bowie changed radically on each album in the 70's, which was a large part of his appeal. McCartney? Seems like a long way from "Love Me Do" to stuff like "Live and Let Die." Bowie from "Space Oddity" to "Ashes to Ashes." Stones from "Tell Me" to "You Can't Always Get What You Want." And those are only referring to the "classic years for those artists, decades ago.

With Costello, I don't think in terms of progress -- I think in terms of maintenance. He came into the world fully formed -- that first album is it for me, and I went on to expect that level of excellence every time out afterwards. With varying results. I think he's talented enough that he can explore his musical tastes and influences. I mentioned previously that Keith Richards loves classical music, but I don't see anything like The Juliet Letters coming out of him, and I suspect any string arrangements on Stones songs were done by someone else (likc Paul Buckmaster on "Moonlight Mile" ... a track he apparently had nothing to do with). Most musicians I've met have very broad tastes, nowhere near as indicative of the music they play. I respect that about Costello's level of talent.

I'm sure all our recent Costello "best of" lists would be radically different!

Anonymous said...

Ok reporting back from last night's concert. He and the Imposters played mostly the hits from the Attractions catalogue. What wowed me was Elvis's guitar playing. He shredded it. He was always a respectable if not too flashy lead player, but Steve Naive carried a lot of the melody. Last night Elvis was on fire! truly awesome guitar. I will say that some of his vocals were a bit drawn out to where they didn't quite fit the meter of the song, however it was a great showing of all their talents. Steely Dan ruled the evening though. Best sound mix of any concert I've been to recently.

Sal Nunziato said...

"Not so sure about the "completely different artist" proposition. Just the ones you mentioned. Bowie changed radically on each album in the 70's, which was a large part of his appeal. McCartney? Seems like a long way from "Love Me Do" to stuff like "Live and Let Die." Bowie from "Space Oddity" to "Ashes to Ashes." Stones from "Tell Me" to "You Can't Always Get What You Want." And those are only referring to the "classic years for those artists, decades ago"

I don't agree. Bowie's radical jumps from record to record were brilliant moves, but I never thought at any time I wasn't listening to Bowie. Yes, Space Oddity sounds nothing like Young Americans or Heroes, but they all seem to have Bowie at their root. Same with McCartney...it's pop music, just produced differently for each decade. Stones mission statement hasn't changed in 50 years. With Costello, his records feel as if by trying on a hat, he truly becomes that person. I don't hear any of the 70s and 80s EC in his later work.

JAYESSEMM said...

Interesting.

With this discussion I took a look at my library and I have a tonne from Elvis; I can only imagine what more "informed" burners of wood have.

That said I just don't listen to the recent stuff very much.

I think you are on to something with this "sounds different" theory. Take a peer -- Nick Lowe -- for example. Nick today is maybe more mellow and witty and less (let's say) "frantic" but there is a direct line from The Jesus of Cool to today. My Aim Is True to ...?

Thanks for the posts and for getting us thinking.

buzzbabyjesus said...

"Starting with "This Year's Model" it seemed like what I liked best receded and something else began to emerge."

That's what I was getting at when I commented on the previous post.

There are 19 EC cd's in my house, the majority of which are multi disc re-issues.

Charlie Carr said...

How did you set about sequencing this? Any thought to making it chronological? I am quite sure it sounds great as it is. Thanks for the mix!

cmealha said...

I stuck with him through North which I didn't initially like but grew to like, sort of. He is one of the best song writers ever and for me, one of the better singers. It has been a chore plowing through ..Sugarcane, ..Random, ..Ghost, etc. looking for anything I could hang my hat on but it hasn't been there for me. Maybe, like Todd, it's time for me to go back and give it another try. This'll be a good starting point.

Sal Nunziato said...

I sequenced as a playlist Charlie. Though chronologically might have been more interesting

Noam Sane said...

Thank you Sal, I certainly will. I appreciate the effort here, I do adore the guy. I wish they would do another season of "Spectacle."

mauijim said...

Thank you Sal, great follow up playlist to this weeks post. Loved his collaborations with Bacharach and Allen as you did. Was lucky too to see those concerts as well and wished he had released a cd/dvd of his short tour with Emmylou around the same time where he let out his inner Gram Parsons. Its been a slippery slope since then.Gave up the Ghost(pun intended)and so may he have too since this feels like the longest time between albums. What about a collaboration album with his wife?

A walk in the woods said...

Ah, Elvis, Elvis, how you divide. I think the main problem with Elvis is probably his lack of an editor - an Oates to his Hall, an Andrew Ridgley to his George Michael. He's frankly put out too much, with too little regard to what shouldn't have come out or what should have been fussed over more to have a better lifespan.

The best example of someone who does that - limits his output and fusses over what he does put out - is Paul Simon. I can't think of more than 5% of the songs in his canon that I DON'T like. How many other artists can you say that about? Quality control!!

(Interestingly, Paul Simon blows my theory about artists needing an editor.... unless we assume Edie Brickell or Princess Leia previously were pulling those strings....)

p.s. I also think Elvis is unnecessarily wordy, to his detriment. Again, an editor who could help him pick just the right 10 words instead of the 37 he uses, could really serve him well. For evidence, check out the way he sings every lingering, luscious word of "The Poisoned Rose" from "King Of America." Now that is a song - and an album - where he definitely got it right.

Elvis Costello - The Poisoned Rose
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ruxu2Jd5MHU

A walk in the woods said...

Two more things. One - I just read your previous Elvis post, where you made just about the same point, in a different way: that Elvis needs an editor. (Bruce Thomas being a good one.) So I was just saying some of the same thing.

And: I don't believe you have anything from "Wise Up Ghost," his collab with the Roots. Have you heard that one? It's easily my favorite Elvis record in years... actually lives up to the hype. If nothing else, "Walk Us Uptown" belongs on an Elvis post-Spike best of.