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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Format: Vinyl|Change
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on 20 December 2002
When "The Juliet Letters" album was released in 1993, Costello refused to refer to it as a classical album, prefering instead to use the term 'serious music.' Whatever you might call it, this is one of Costello's finest and bravest hours. This album contains the perfect blend of The Brodsky Quartet's rich timbre and Costello's strong and emotional tones. Those who are brave and open enough to discard the usual snobbery and poo-pooing which usually surrounds a collaboration of artists from genres as diverse as pop and classical, will be in for a treat. The album is made up of songs which are based around different types of letters. There is a love letter, suicide note - even junk mail. There are some wonderful moments here, from the hilarious "I Almost Had a Weakness" and "This Offer is Unrepeatable" to the heartbreaking "Why" and "This Sad Burlesque." Within the album are some memorable tunes, not least on the highlight of the album, "Taking My Life in Your Hands." This is a must for those love music and for those who think that Elvis Costello is just "Oliver's Army" and "Watching the Detectives."
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on 22 July 2003
In retrospectives of Costello's career, this album always seems to be on the end of an ill-deserved kicking. It's certainly not accessible to the casual listener, and maybe hardcore fans find it too different from the new-wave norm, but this is a record that needs defending. The presence of a string quartet unlocks Elvis imagination and he's never been so lyrically on the ball. Once you've cracked the code, it's impossible to stop playing this CD. The Brodsky Quartet is awesome, punctuating the sarcasm and spite, and lifting the poignancy to new levels. Against this backdrop, it becomes clear just how emotive the singer's voice really can be. 'This Sad Burlesque' stands out, but no song is dispensible. The melodies roll unpredictably over weird and wonderful key changes. 'Taking My Life In Your Hands' is an aching ballad, though I have a soft spot for 'Damnation's Cellar', a song that ten years on, I find myself humming on the train even when I haven't heard the record for months. Don't believe the stubborn old punks. This is a brave and gorgeous recording, jostling with 'Imperial Bedroom' and 'Brutal Youth' as the man's best.
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on 24 November 2003
This is a record to listen to from the beginning to the end without skipping any tracks. Then listen to it in the shuffle mode of your CD player. A whole new experience! :) Finaly if you are anything like me, you will pick all the tracks you love and listen them on and on and on...
At first it might strike you a little odd. It is a quartet, they play all those strings and no, there are no drums, not even a shy guitar or the melodies of a mandolin on the background. Nothing like many rock and pop bands that tend to blend everything in case something catches.
It is a unique and alas, lonely effort to explore new music horizons.
I am not a big Elvis Costelo fan. But I am a huge fan of this record and I like the guy!
What a lovely record...
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on 6 October 2015
A precious and charming chamber album from a brilliant and versatile artist.
A concept album, who will delight you from start to the end, and with some vibrant, elegant and lovely tracks like Damnation Cellar, Jacksons Monk & Rowe (musically marvelous) and I almost had a weakness (mixing tango and string music).
I wish one day it will be released on bluray audio
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on 11 July 2005
I have been a EC fan over the years, but this record is in another league. Because the record is in the classical domain, following that genre's rules - the songs display incredible musicanship, modulate key signatures rapidly and have lyrics that are more opera-like. However the result of this is that the songs are more intelligent and take greater risks in the melody than rock would ever allow. I would highly recommend purchasing this album and the score - not sold here on Amazon - but available through You will see how the songs were written and how full members of the writing the Brodskies are on this record. Their level of playing is in a different dimension than the Attractions or anyone else Costello has played with. I am not a classical snob...its just that this CD is so much better than anything he has done.
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on 28 August 2000
It's disappointing that there are so few brilliant artists like Elvis. This is one of his more unusual works, and not recommended for those who like bubble-gum & fluff. Now there's a good title for an album, Elvis.
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on 6 January 2013
Having loved Elvis Costello's collaboration with Burt Bacharach I thought that I would give this a whirl and was nearly suicidal by the time I finished it. There is lots to admire but its very gloomy.
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on 7 April 2013
Already new this great album and bought CD to replace tape.
Great fun and also poignant at times.
Wonderful combination of raspy voice of Costello, great Brodsky Quartet and wonderful texts.
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on 7 February 2000
Wow! What can I say? I am listening to The Juliet Letters now, and they are fantastic. Moving, funny, rocky, a bit Shostakovich. That man's a genius, and so are they!
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on 1 January 2014
This CD was a Xmas present for my wife who wanted this CD after seeing a programe on BBC 4 about the Elvis Costello Recording.
My wife was thrilled at recieving the CD as it is no longer currently available from normal sources.
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