I put Elvis right up there with Macca, Dylan, Van Morrison, Prince, and Neil Young when it comes to incredible songwriting.
Like many folks here, I didn't really get into him until he started working with Macca. (Or rather when I discovered that he worked with Macca) It was around 1993. (The dreaded Off The Ground Album
I was a freshman in college, and around the same time there was an infomercial on TV called "Sounds of the '70." I used to watch it almost every night it came on, lol. There was a segment in there where they played "punk rock." ("Psycho Killer" by Talking Heads, "Because The Night" by Patti Smith, and "Radio, Radio" by Elvis Costello)
After watching that video I didn't understand the Elvis Costello thing at all. He just looked silly and I didn't really understand the song.
After I really, really got into "Mistress and Maid" as well as "My Brave Face," I decided to pick up the Rykodisc Best of
. I really began to appreciate his songwriting after that. I particularly liked "Watching the Detectives," "Alison," "Oliver's Army," and "Everyday I Write the Book."
Then I got the first four albums and they really blew me away. I don't think any other artist's first four albums are quite as strong as these. (Including the Beatles - if it weren't for Beatles for Sale...
The following albums are my favorites:
My Aim Is True
- Great bare bones rock and roll
This Year's Model
- New Wave at its finest
- Contains my favorite EC song "Oliver's Army"
- Great R&B/Stax/Motown sound - with great songs to boot!
- Great production from the Beatle's Engineer Geoff Emerick.
Punch the Clock
- Funky horns and great background singers throughout. Plus contains one of the greatest and most subtle anti-war songs ever, "Shipbuilding."
King of America
- "Brilliant Mistake" is a great song. Very rootsy album
- One of his most eclectic albums - ranging from the Macca collaboration "Veronica" to Allen Toussaint's incredible piano playing on "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror."
- Great return to rock and roll after the Juliet Letters
(Interesting but not one of my favorites)
All This Useless Beauty
- His most underrated album IMHO. Contains a lot of songs he wrote for others including his versions of "You Bowed Down" written for Roger McGuinn, "The Other End of the Telescope" written for Aimee Mann/Til Tuesday, and the incredible "Complicated Shadows" written for but never recorded by Johnny Cash. It was also the last album he recorded with the Attractions. On top of all of that it featured the Macca collaboration "Shallow Grave." I saw him on the tour for this album. It was the last tour he did with the Attractions. It was kind of bittersweet.
Painted from Memory
- The great collaboration with Burt Bacharach. My favorite song is still "God Give Me Strenght."
The Delivery Man
- Great concept album recorded in Mississippi and featuring the song "Monkey to Man."
My Flame Burns Blue
- Live album released earlier this year. Very jazzy, very upbeat, and very cool. It reminds me of Henry Mancini. Especially the version of "Watching the Detectives."
The River in Reverse
- Collaboration with Allen Toussaint. Not out yet, but did get a sneak preview in New Orleans a couple of weeks ago when they performed several of the tracks live. The title track is very strong. Some of the best lyrics ever by Mr. Costello.
Wow. That's a lot of great albums. And those are just my
favorites. He's just so incredibly talented and versatile. One of the most fun artsts to follow. You never know what he'll do next, but you know it will be interesting and most likely good.
And in the end...