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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ALARMINGLY GOOD...
Why is Elvis Costello still making albums this good? By all rights, he should be an embarrassment by now, a faded punk rock icon whose time has long passed. Instead, he is outpacing most of the younger guys in terms of output, energy, quality and passion. This album is the work of a man who loves music, and loves discovery, someone who is hell bent on creating...
Published on 15 April 2002

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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Elvis can I turn this?
When I was cruel is a good album.
Lyrics are at their best, the concept is quite good, the sound of Mr. Costello is renewed.
"45" is, in my opinion, the best track of the album. The song is genious, catchy and well rythmed. "Spooky girlfriend" is a good ballad, very "beatlish". It's chours can remind you to the Lennon-McCartney Girl.
"Tart" is a very valid...
Published on 16 April 2002


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ALARMINGLY GOOD..., 15 April 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: When I Was Cruel (Audio CD)
Why is Elvis Costello still making albums this good? By all rights, he should be an embarrassment by now, a faded punk rock icon whose time has long passed. Instead, he is outpacing most of the younger guys in terms of output, energy, quality and passion. This album is the work of a man who loves music, and loves discovery, someone who is hell bent on creating something new and exciting even if it costs him the affections of fickle-minded listeners and journalists.
I don't know how he does it. This album is a tour de force, like Dylan's Time Out Of Mind but more playful and full of dark fun. Run out and get it, put it on, and howl at the moon...
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 50,000 Elvis fans can't be wrong!, 26 April 2002
This review is from: When I Was Cruel (Audio CD)
"When I was cruel" signals Costello doing that which he does best. It is in turns stroppy, sensitive, dense, simple, and mostly inspired.
After the beard years and the ballad years we now have a return to the noisy years. Much of the musical sound on this record is reminiscent of Attraction era music. Studio layering does little to enhance this, though Elvis obviously thinks otherwise. The best songs, as always,are the most simple.
45, Alibi, My Little Blue Window, to name a few are classis Costello. Lyrically taut, musically soaring, a perfect reason to buy this.
The title track, When I was Cruel, carries sonic echoes of "I want you". Brooding, repetitive, and vintage! Indeed this new release represents not so much a return to form as evidence that he has always been on form.
Episode of Blonde carries Elvis into new territory and works superby well. The latin shuffle of the verse and the pop lushness of the chorus combine into a veritable tour de force. Live it must be a wonder to behold.
Of course there are a few songs which don't work. "Daddy can I turn this" and "Soul for Hire" are messy, and unsatisfactory. But Elvis has always had a few dud tracks on every release he's ever made. The man, fans must remember, is not perfect.
"Maintaining Radio Silence" brings the recording to a perfect end. Costello's enunciation is spine-chilling, and the lyric follows in a tradition of diva last-album songs.(I want to Vanish, Forever, Waiting for the end of the world, etc)
Repeated listening brings its rewards. "When I was Cruel" shows Costello to be in a league of one. He is funny at times, cruel at times (despite protests to the contrary) and achingly tender at times. Buy "When I was Cruel" and prepare to be entranced by the beloved entertainer!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bloody Brilliant!, 25 April 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: When I Was Cruel (Audio CD)
How many 47 year old rock stars have made a collection of songs as fresh, inventive & snarling as this? While most performers rest on their dubiuosly earned laurels Costello is still there experimenting & producing mighty fine tunes with literate (literary?) lyrics. The songs are melodic, tuneful, skewed, rocking etc... The title track is worth the price of the Cd alone - only someone as musically knowledgeable as Costello would know about Mina let alone have the courage to sample her, and to excellent effect I may add! This album is not 'a return to form' - the bloke's never been off form in the first place!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Oh look - another great Costello album, 29 May 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: When I Was Cruel (Audio CD)
Elvis Costello's problem is that he has produced so many great albums over the years that he finds himself judged by his own very high standards. We expect outstanding music from him, and sometimes feel a little disappointed, even when he produces albums which almost nobody else can rival.
When I Was Cruel is a case in point. It's a marvellous album, showcasing most of the styles which EC has mastered over the years. I can't think of another British artist who could hope to rival this. If you like EC, you'll like this.
Oh, and it is NOT a 'return to form'. This implies that EC was 'off form' with his last couple of albums. That was emphatically not the case. All This Useless Beauty and Painted From Memory were outstanding albums. If you haven't got them, put them in your shopping basket with this...
Four stars, then. I can't give it five because it's not his absolute best work. It's those high standards, you see...
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Album of 2002 (so far), 31 Mar 2002
This review is from: When I Was Cruel (Audio CD)
The lazy view is that this is one of Elvis' cyclical returns to rock, and sure 45, Tear off your own head, Daddy Can I Turn This, and particularly Dissolve are rowdy in extremis. But there's so much more. Soul for Hire is like a good song off Spike and My Little Blue Window acoustically rocks like Blood & Chocolate's "Crimes of Paris".
But most interestingly are Elvis sampling and beat looping and trickery on the two Dust tracks (which are great), Spooky Girlfriend and the title track.
Look I'm a huge EC fan and maybe I'm biased, but this is a great record and like all of EC's stuff (and unlike a lot of current releases) it benefits from repeated plays. Who else has a body of work like Costello? Who else is releasing albums this good after 25 years? Sting and co.? You must be joking.
Buy this record, thank me later...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CRUEL TO BE KIND-- A MASTERPIECE, 3 May 2002
This review is from: When I Was Cruel [VINYL] (Vinyl)
A great album-- not so much a "return to rock" as a bold new direction, this album is groovy and funky and dark and funny. It ranks up their with his best work (think Imperial Bedroom and Blood & Chocolate, but it doesn't sound anything like either one).
The "rock n' roll" songs are fun, but the real meat of the album is on strange ones like the title track and "Spooky Girlfriend." You are not likely to find a better album in the next 12 months!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars awesome!, 22 April 2002
By 
Mr. S. A. H. Done "St Etienne" (Liverpool) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: When I Was Cruel (Audio CD)
Up there with his very best. Intelligent, witty, scary, melodically strong, always sonically challenging, this is a powerful record and far from over-long as some reviewers have stated. The title track is pure sustained menace and a massive advancement in Costello's approach to music making. The use of his beloved cheap electric guitar and all manner of rhythmic gizmos displays a fresh approach to his musicmaking, and he is clearly enjoying it.
His band are clearly happy and having a gas playing on an album that despite its (at times) complex studio layering, is infact a collection of songs to rock and roll on stage - did anyone catch the Astoria gig? Well if not, i can assure you the songs stand up maybe even better live - Episode of Blonde just soared and 15 Petals had everyone grooving. When I was Cruel saw Costello drop in crazy distorted samples as his band followed the twists and turns of sound...fabulous stuff.
Back to the album: Spook Girlfriend is witty and razor sharp, and Daddy is just plain scary...listen to the screaming backing vocals provided by the new Liveprool wunder-kid Steven Kennedy on that one!
If you love Costello you have to buy this. If you are not sure, you will be won over - never mind light-weights likethe Strokes and Stripes and the playing-it-safe-but -nice U2, Costello beats the pants off them all and how. Tremdouse stuff Declan.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Return to Form, 16 April 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: When I Was Cruel (Audio CD)
After noodling around for for years and generally testing the patience of his most hardcore fans (and I'm one) this really is a massive return to form and worthy of inclusion in one of the greatest bodies of work of any artist over the past 40 years or so. The lyrics grate a little in places...Elvis tends to be unneccesarily wordy in places (its a common fault with much of his later work) but that said, its forgiveable. Inspiring and totally contemporary. Elvis is still king.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wicked Wit, 13 July 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: When I Was Cruel (Audio CD)
If there were any doubts that Elvis Costello couldn't rock anymore, they were dispelled with When I Was Cruel. This ranks as my third favorite (behind Armed Forces and Brutal Youth) E.C. CD. All the trademark wit and charm are back. As you listen to the lyrics of Alibi, you realise that they couldn't have been written any other way. There isn't a single bad song on this disc.
Buy it today and hear how songwriting should be done.
[DW]
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elvis - as usual on top form, 22 April 2002
By 
Martin Mckenna "McKenna" (Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: When I Was Cruel (Audio CD)
Elvis Costello, in my opinion has produced a catalogue of albums that hold up to any contemporary rock or popular artist. On this album he returns to his 'roots' with spiky lyrics, clever instrumentation and a passion for his music that leaves all imatators in his wake.
I hope Elvis , finds the time to take this album on tour.
Anyone who likes quality should purchase with haste.
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When I Was Cruel by Elvis Costello (Audio CD - 2002)
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