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Guitar-based rock music 1977-86
on 28 June 2013
For most of this period, Elvis Costello's music comprised himself on vocals and guitar, backed by keyboards, bass and drums, though there were variations especially towards the end. Driving rock songs dominated, mostly written by Elvis, although the music sometimes hides the nature of the lyrics. For those who care, the booklet contains full lyrics for all the featured 22 songs.
Elvis had three UK top ten hits during this period, these being Oliver's army at #2, I can't stand up for falling down at #4 and Good year for the roses at #6. He did not have an American top ten hit until 1989, when he made #10 with a song titled Veronica, but you'll have to look elsewhere for that.
In 1981, just when people thought they knew what to expect from Elvis, he demonstrated his love of country music by recording a whole album of country songs with Billy Sherrill as producer. From this album, Good year for the roses became a UK top ten hit as noted above. Originally recorded by George Jones and a country hit for hum, the Elvis Costello version was clearly popular with a lot of British people, most of whom had never heard the song before. Country fans familiar with the original didn't all like it, but I did and still do.
This collection contains the three UK top ten hits mentioned above along with a selection of lesser UK hits and album tracks. Among the lesser hits, Watching the detectives and ( don't wanna go to Chelsea both made the UK top 20 and established Elvis's credentials as a rock singer, and both are here. Alison (a song later covered by Linda Ronstadt) is also featured. Beyond those track, I don't think anything essential is missing from my perspective, but others may disagree. I say it's a great collection with everything that I expect of an Elvis Costello hits collection.