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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Elvis Costello - Make sure that this album is not a "hidden shame"
Elvis is one of our most cherished but sadly neglected national treasures. Indeed while his reputation as one of our generation's greatest songwriters seems to grow in the US back in "blighty" his albums are greeted with a mixture of polite respect or mystified indifference.

It is a huge shame as Costello makes stunning albums which draw upon a huge range of...
Published on 2 Jun. 2009 by Red on Black

versus
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars open-secret, profanities and sugar-beet
I am a massive EC fan - owning absolutely everything he has ever recorded. I admire the man hugely, however I find it impossible to concur with some of the gushing reviews I have read here. Undoubtedly EC has exhibited [again] his remarkable song-writing talents. That in itself though does not make this album entertaining. I always enjoy his work, but there is no way this...
Published on 5 Sept. 2009 by Uncle Drewford


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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Elvis Costello - Make sure that this album is not a "hidden shame", 2 Jun. 2009
By 
Red on Black - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
Elvis is one of our most cherished but sadly neglected national treasures. Indeed while his reputation as one of our generation's greatest songwriters seems to grow in the US back in "blighty" his albums are greeted with a mixture of polite respect or mystified indifference.

It is a huge shame as Costello makes stunning albums which draw upon a huge range of musical sources which he in turn always transforms from base metal into a precious substance. I suspect that his ability to jump from genre to genre is seen in some eyes as an irritation rather than strength and lacking in consistency. His fans however see it as his impatience to move on and never become pigeon holed.

He teams up again on this album with the uber hot producer T Bone Burnett fresh from his triumph with Plant and Krauss on "Raising Sand". Is this an attempt by Costello to follow suit; it would be an injustice even to think it. Costello and Burnett have worked together on and off since the mid 80s most notably on the neglected classic "king of America" which included great Elvis songs like "I'll wear it proudly" and "Little palaces". Thus the idea of an Elvis "cash in" on Burnett can be ruled out as can the idea that this is "Almost Blue" part2. It is far superior than the latter.

True it is familiar Burnett territory drawing upon a rich vein of country music, bluegrass and Americana but with the bulk of tracks penned by Elvis. As such I cant quite give it 5 stars and cant work out yet how to rate at four and a half! They both could do this in their sleep but this is tremendous plus and not a weakness particularly with the fantastic quality of the songs.

The highlights

* Costello does a new version of his own song written for Johnny Cash "Hidden Shame". Its pure Nashville and try to keep that foot still.

* The lovely waltz "Changing partners". Answers on a postcard please who first recorded this for I do not have a clue?

* "Down among the wines and spirit" could happily soundtrack the "Last Picture show" and spin forever in a bar in a dusty Texas town

* The outstanding highlight is the deeply moving country lament sung with the great Loretta Lynn "I Felt the Chill before the Winter Came" a sort of counterpart for "It's a good year for the Roses" 20 years later and a stone cold classic.

This album is still revealing its pleasures, but its one of Costello's best in many years. Not surprisingly it is brilliantly produced by Burnett and the band is so together they should be running the country (but with reasonable expenses and allowances). Take a punt buy Secret, Profane and Sugarcane and be very pleasantly surprised by an album that deserves Elvis to be crowned as one of our greatest songwriters and not just the "King of America".
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars King of Americana, 3 Jun. 2009
Elvis Costello returns to Nashville (scene of 1981's "Almost Blue" recordings) and links up again with producer T. Bone Burnett (who produced Costello's classic "King of America" and 1989's "Spike" and co-wrote with Costello the Oscar-nominated "The Scarlet Tide," sung by Alison Krauss in the movie Cold Mountain.) It's thirty-two years since the blistering debut of "My Aim Is True" and the stellar sequence of Costello (and the Attractions) albums that followed. Depending on your perspective, it's somewhere between 10 and 20 years since the release of a Costello album qualified as a bona fide musical event. For all his brilliance, Costello is still criticized for his genre-hopping ways. But throughout his brilliant career, three things have been (pretty much) constant: 1) Costello's musical intelligence and inquisitiveness; 2) his choice of great collaborators; 3) his incredible voice. For fans old and new, "Secret, Profane and Sugarcane" displays all three traits. It's an acoustic collection of rootsy, bluesy, "back-porch" Americana, with dobro, fiddle, mandolin and accordion supplied by some great backing musicians. "Complicated Shadows" (from 1996's "All This Useless Beauty") gets reworked here, along with "Hidden Shame" (a Costello song recorded by Johnny Cash, and previously available as a Costello demo from 1996). Among the ten previously unrecorded tracks are two bluegrassy numbers written with T.Bone Burnett -- "Sulphur to Sugarcane" and "The Crooked Line" -- plus Costello's second collaboration with Loretta Lynn, the classic-country-sounding "I Felt the Chill Before the Winter Came." There are also four songs from Costello's unfinished Hans Christian Andersen opera. If you're not already a Costello fan, this is not the album to start with. But if you are (like me) always willing to follow Costello on every step of his musical journey, there's a swing-seat on the porch waiting for you. Enjoy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Return of the little hands of concrete., 18 July 2009
By 
Mr. Mark Hargrave "Marky" (West Yorks UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I've been on a long and sometimes bumpy journey with Elvis Costello. I came in at This Years Model and have stuck with him ever since. Never being one to stand still and by proving himself to be a genre camelion Elvis' music has rarely been dull and most of his collabrations have been astounding and outstanding.
But by turning his back on the UK he's now largely forgotten back home and this latest offering is unlikely to bring new fans to the Macmanus clan. However if, like me, you found King of America to be one of his greatest moments then you need to own this album.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's not very far from sulphur to sugarcane..., 27 Dec. 2009
By 
Andy Sweeney "music was my first love" (Brighton, East Sussex) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
Firstly, I have to declare my love and admiration for Elvis Costello. I have pretty much everything he has ever released and have seen him numerous times in concert, so my thoughts are those of a big fan very familiar with his work. However, having said that, I am left feeling that this particular album will never be counted amongst my favourite work of the great man. It's an undoubtedly lovely country/Americana-themed collaboration with T-Bone Burnett and has some great moments and superb rootsy musical touches, but it's slightly too tame and careful for me to fully embrace it as one of his classics. I am, however, falling into the trap of comparing this album with his previous work, but for an artist like Elvis, it is very difficult not to judge him by his own very high and very eclectic standards.

Despite my lukewarm feelings about the project as a whole, there is much on "Secret, Profane & Sugarcane" to love, though. "I Felt The Chill" is a beautiful but heartbreaking song documenting feelings of betrayal. It's also great to have a wonderful version of "Hidden Shame" on this album, a song never officially released by Elvis, but covered by Johnny Cash. "Sulphur To Sugarcane" is a delightful little bluesy ditty as well and is delivered with more than a little humour. "Red Cotton" is superb and could easily have been a track from his 80's masterpiece "King Of America". In fact, everything is more than listenable and most of the album is very enjoyable - it merely suffers from being slightly ordinary on more than one occasion.

This is, without doubt, worth buying if you are either a fan of Elvis Costello or a lover of the Americana music genre. It's actually a lovely companion piece to "Almost Blue", with Elvis' controversial 1981 album documenting his love of country music through passionate cover versions and now, in 2009, he presents us with an album (nearly) full of Costello originals in the same genre, all with the same authenticity of the songs Elvis chose to cover on his misunderstood 80's beauty. To surmise, even if this is never going to be your favourite Costello album ever, it may just find a special place in your heart.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Gem, 5 July 2009
By 
Slim "Jimbo" (Surrey, England) - See all my reviews
There is so much music produced in the Noughties which only dulls the mind.
Elvis has produced a series of exquitely crafted gems in this decade, mixing genres and collaborators. The thing that all his records have in common is great songwriting. And this latest gem is packed with wonderful songs. I could praise them in similar terms to the other reviewers, but why waste key depressions.If you do not have this disc, you deprive yourself of the opportunity to listen to I Felt The Chill, which makes you a complete muppet.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars out of the spotlight but in form, 10 July 2009
By 
Ian Teague (london) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Elvis seems largly ignored by the media just now - which seems to be doing him no end of good - just getting on with making music that he enjoys and so do we. Delivery Man was a real return to form, Momofuku was even better and this to me is the most completly enjoyable Elvis album since King of America.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost Blue? - Almost as good?, 5 Nov. 2009
By 
A. Mccoll - See all my reviews
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I didn't know what to expect with this Album, I had not heard any tracks on it before purchase, I only bought it as I thought it might be "intresting" to hear how Costello had changed since his last visit to the country scene.

The sound quality and musicianship is first class, and his voice has remained much the same, I am not too sure if I actually remember too much of Almost Blue, but this was to me a less commercial adventure, from my memory.

Did I enjoy it? My IPod says I do, with some songs already played over twenty times.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars open-secret, profanities and sugar-beet, 5 Sept. 2009
By 
I am a massive EC fan - owning absolutely everything he has ever recorded. I admire the man hugely, however I find it impossible to concur with some of the gushing reviews I have read here. Undoubtedly EC has exhibited [again] his remarkable song-writing talents. That in itself though does not make this album entertaining. I always enjoy his work, but there is no way this is a 5-out-of-5 album, and to suggest it is is actually to insult the body of work EC has produced. A huge number of his albums are indeed 5-out-of-5, this simply isn't one of them. Whilst it is admirable that EC continues to flit between musical genres - after all my music collection includes everything from classical to Jazz to Rock to Country, why shouldn't his? Again "I refer the honourable reader to the answer I gave earlier" that in itself does not make this album entertaining. Bottom line is, this is an OK Elvis Costello album - and whilst this makes it - by definition - much superior to almost everyone else's productions - OK is still OK. I can see nothing to be gained from comparing this album to any other artiste's albums. EC is head and shoulders above any other living artist [and most of those who have passed over as well] and therefore I will compare this album to EC's own back catalogue. It is not in the same league as "This Year's Model" or "Imperial Bedrooms" or "King of America" or "Juliet Letters" or "Painted From Memory", these are true 5-out-of-5 albums. "Secret, Profane & Sugarcane" is a reasonably good listen. Nothing More. 3-out-of-5. 'nuff said.Secret, Profane and Sugarcane
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How does he do it??, 11 Jun. 2009
By 
I just give up! This guy is too talented for me! How can someone produce such interesting, fresh sounding gems after so many years of songwriting? Why hasn't he gone stale like most of his contemporaries? This is simply a peach of an album. I actually thought all the songs here were standards covered by Costello but they're not. All the material is by Mr McManus himself with the odd bit of help from his friends here and there.That's how good these songs are - they sound like established numbers. You've got to smile at 'Sulphur to Sugarcane' a song covering a lothario's jounrney and Elvis almost doing a 'cheeky chappy' routine but getting away with it! But what a laugh! There are some heartbreakers on here too which always touch a nerve - a knack that Costello seems never to have lost. The songs from his Hans Christian Anderson cycle are particularly beautiful. Again the lyrics are sharp,focused and inventive and put many a contemporary novelist to shame. Don't listen to me! Go buy/download this and listen to Elvis!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Always good, 3 Aug. 2009
By 
J. fletcher "plot lover" (lancashire U.K.) - See all my reviews
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Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this for my husband who has always been a fan of Elivis Costello-he was not disappointed, he loves it!
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