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Elvis Costello|Spike

Spike

Elvis Costello

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Following a pair of near-masterpieces in 1986, Elvis Costello went into semi-seclusion, separating from the Attractions (once again) and Columbia Records, emerging three years later on Warner Brothers with Spike. Mockingly billing himself as "the Beloved Entertainer" on the album's front cover, there's nevertheless a real sense of showbiz pizzazz here, as he tries on a little bit of everything. You like Costello the soul singer? Try "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror," recorded with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Costello the pop sophisticate? How about the torch song "Baby Plays Around" or "God's Comic," a tune that mocks Andrew Lloyd Webber, while aching to eclipse him. The angry young man? There's "Tramp the Dirt Down," perhaps the nastiest anti-Thatcher song ever waxed. Costello the witty wordsmith? Well, there's "Pads, Paws and Claws," a rockabilly tune overflowing with labored puns. Costello the gifted pure pop tunesmith? There's plenty of that here, from "This Town" with Roger McGuinn and Paul McCartney and the lovely "Veronica," a tune co-written with McCartney that became one of his biggest hits. So, there's a lot here -- everything except focus, actually. And Costello certainly likes to indulge himself here, throwing in the awkward "Chewing Gum" and the instrumental "Stalin Malone" for good measure. There are some moments that work quite well, but there's nothing connecting them, and if anything, he's trying way too hard -- and, for all of the overarching ambition of his early-'80s recordings, that criticism never applied before. Certainly, there are cuts for cultists to enjoy, but Spike's sprawl works against it, resulting in a maddeningly diffuse listen.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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Spike

Elvis Costello

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1
...This Town...
00:04:29

Roger McGuinn, Bass - Michael Blair, Bells, Glockenspiel - T-Bone Burnett, Producer, Acoustic Guitar - Jim Keltner, Snare Drums - Bob Ludwig, Masterer - Paul Mccartney, Bass - KEVIN KILLEN, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - DAVE FARRELL, AssistantEngineer - Mike Ross, AdditionalEngineer, AssistantEngineer - ELVIS COSTELLO, Producer, MainArtist - John Grimes, AssistantEngineer - D.P.A. MAC MANUS, Composer, Lyricist, Arranger, Acoustic Guitar, Organ, Piano, Tambourine, Vocals, Bass - Cait O'Riordan, Additional Percussion - Lance Phillips, AssistantEngineer - Ralph Forbes, Electric (sensonics) Drums - Stacey Baird, AssistantEngineer

2008 © 1989 Warner Records Inc. ℗ 1989 Warner Records Inc.

2
Let Him Dangle
00:04:44

Benmont Tench, Piano - Michael Blair, Drums, Additional Percussion - T-Bone Burnett, Producer - KEVIN KILLEN, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - Jerry Scheff, Bass - Marc Ribot, Electric Guitar - DAVE FARRELL, AssistantEngineer - Jerry Marotta, Snare Drums - Mike Ross, AdditionalEngineer, AssistantEngineer - ELVIS COSTELLO, Producer, MainArtist - John Grimes, AssistantEngineer - D.P.A. MAC MANUS, Composer, Lyricist, Arranger, Piano, Vocals - Lance Phillips, AssistantEngineer - Stacey Baird, AssistantEngineer

2008 © 1989 Warner Records Inc. ℗ 1989 Warner Records Inc.

3
Deep Dark Truthful Mirror
00:04:02

Roger Lewis, Baritone Saxophone - Gregory Davis, Trumpet - Michael Blair, Drums, Tambourine - T-Bone Burnett, Producer - Jim Keltner, Cymbals, Snare Drums - KEVIN KILLEN, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - Allen Toussaint, Piano - DAVE FARRELL, AssistantEngineer - Mike Ross, AdditionalEngineer, AssistantEngineer - ELVIS COSTELLO, Producer, MainArtist - John Grimes, AssistantEngineer - Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Horn - Efrem Towns, Trumpet - Kevin Harris, Tenor Saxophone - D.P.A. MAC MANUS, Composer, Lyricist, Arranger, Piano, Vocals - McManus, Writer - Kirk Joseph, Horn - Lance Phillips, AssistantEngineer - Stacey Baird, AssistantEngineer

2008 © 1989 Warner Records Inc. ℗ 1989 Warner Records Inc.

4
Veronica
00:03:08

Roger McGuinn, Bass - Benmont Tench, Piano, Spinet - Michael Blair, Drums, Glockenspiel - T-Bone Burnett, Producer, Acoustic Guitar - Bob Ludwig, Masterer - Paul Mccartney, Writer - KEVIN KILLEN, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - MITCHELL FROOM, Chamberlain Strings, Electric Piano - DAVE FARRELL, AssistantEngineer - Jerry Marotta, Snare Drums - Mike Ross, AdditionalEngineer, AssistantEngineer - ELVIS COSTELLO, Producer, Writer, MainArtist - John Grimes, AssistantEngineer - D.P.A. MAC MANUS, Electric Guitar, Vocals - Lance Phillips, AssistantEngineer - Stacey Baird, AssistantEngineer

2008 © 1989 Warner Records Inc. ℗ 1989 Warner Records Inc.

5
God's Comic
00:05:31

Michael Blair, Snare Drums, Xylophone, Marimba - T-Bone Burnett, Producer - Jim Keltner, Snare Drums - KEVIN KILLEN, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - MITCHELL FROOM, Organ - Marc Ribot, Banjo, Guitar - DAVE FARRELL, AssistantEngineer - Mike Ross, AdditionalEngineer, AssistantEngineer - ELVIS COSTELLO, Producer, MainArtist - John Grimes, AssistantEngineer - D.P.A. MAC MANUS, Composer, Lyricist, Arranger, Vocals, Bass - Buell Niedlinger, Cello, Bass - Lance Phillips, AssistantEngineer - Stacey Baird, AssistantEngineer

2008 © 1989 Warner Records Inc. ℗ 1989 Warner Records Inc.

6
Chewing Gum
00:03:43

Roger Lewis, Soprano Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone - Gregory Davis, Trumpet - Benmont Tench, Keyboards - Michael Blair, Percussion - T-Bone Burnett, Producer - KEVIN KILLEN, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - Marc Ribot, Guitar - DAVE FARRELL, AssistantEngineer - Mike Ross, AdditionalEngineer, AssistantEngineer - ELVIS COSTELLO, Producer, MainArtist - John Grimes, AssistantEngineer - Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Horn - Efrem Towns, Trumpet - Kevin Harris, Tenor Saxophone - D.P.A. MAC MANUS, Composer, Lyricist, Arranger, Guitar, Vocals - Kirk Joseph, Horn - Willie Green, Drums - Lance Phillips, AssistantEngineer - Stacey Baird, AssistantEngineer

2008 © 1989 Warner Records Inc. ℗ 1989 Warner Records Inc.

7
Tramp the Dirt Down
00:05:40

Davy Spillane, Bagpipes, Whistle - Michael Blair, Glockenspiel, Tambourine - T-Bone Burnett, Producer - KEVIN KILLEN, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - Jerry Scheff, Bass - Pete Thomas, Snare Drums - MITCHELL FROOM, Keyboards - Marc Ribot, Percussion - DAVE FARRELL, AssistantEngineer - Mike Ross, AdditionalEngineer, AssistantEngineer - Donal Lunny, Bouzouki, Acoustic Guitar - ELVIS COSTELLO, Producer, MainArtist - John Grimes, AssistantEngineer - D.P.A. MAC MANUS, Composer, Lyricist, Arranger, Vocals - Steve Wickham, Fiddle - Lance Phillips, AssistantEngineer - Stacey Baird, AssistantEngineer

2008 © 1989 Warner Records Inc. ℗ 1989 Warner Records Inc.

8
Stalin Malone
00:04:07

Lionel Batiste, Bass Drums - Roger Lewis, Soprano Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone - Charles Joseph, Trombone - Jenell Marshall, Snare Drums - Gregory Davis, Trumpet - Michael Blair, Percussion - T-Bone Burnett, Producer - KEVIN KILLEN, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - Marc Ribot, Guitar - DAVE FARRELL, AssistantEngineer - Mike Ross, AdditionalEngineer, AssistantEngineer - ELVIS COSTELLO, Producer, MainArtist - John Grimes, AssistantEngineer - Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Horn - Efrem Towns, Trumpet - Kevin Harris, Tenor Saxophone - D.P.A. MAC MANUS, Composer, Lyricist, Arranger - Kirk Joseph, Horn - Lance Phillips, AssistantEngineer - Stacey Baird, AssistantEngineer

2008 © 1989 Warner Records Inc. ℗ 1989 Warner Records Inc.

9
Satellite
00:05:44

Benmont Tench, Piano, Spinet - T-Bone Wolk, Bass - Michael Blair, Bells, Glockenspiel, Timpani, Vibraphone, Marimba - T-Bone Burnett, Producer - Jim Keltner, Snare Drums, Tom Toms Drums - Chrissie Hynde, Harmony Vocals - KEVIN KILLEN, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - MITCHELL FROOM, Organ - DAVE FARRELL, AssistantEngineer - Mike Ross, AdditionalEngineer, AssistantEngineer - ELVIS COSTELLO, Producer, MainArtist - John Grimes, AssistantEngineer - D.P.A. MAC MANUS, Composer, Lyricist, Arranger, Electric Guitar, Piano, Vocals - Lance Phillips, AssistantEngineer - Ralph Forbes, Electric (sensonics) Drums - Stacey Baird, AssistantEngineer

2008 © 1989 Warner Records Inc. ℗ 1989 Warner Records Inc.

10
Pads, Paws and Claws
00:02:54

Michael Blair, Ad Libs Vocals, Marimba - T-Bone Burnett, Producer, Bass - Bob Ludwig, Masterer - Paul Mccartney, Writer - KEVIN KILLEN, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - Jerry Scheff, Bass - Marc Ribot, Electric Guitar - DAVE FARRELL, AssistantEngineer - Jerry Marotta, Snare Drums - Mike Ross, AdditionalEngineer, AssistantEngineer - ELVIS COSTELLO, Producer, MainArtist - John Grimes, AssistantEngineer - D.P.A. MAC MANUS, Composer, Lyricist, Arranger, Acoustic Guitar, Piano, Vocals, Bass - Lance Phillips, AssistantEngineer - Stacey Baird, AssistantEngineer

2008 © 1989 Warner Records Inc. ℗ 1989 Warner Records Inc.

11
Baby Plays Around
00:02:46

Michael Blair, Ad Libs Vocals, Marimba - O'Riordan, Writer - T-Bone Burnett, Producer - Bob Ludwig, Masterer - KEVIN KILLEN, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - MITCHELL FROOM, Organ - DAVE FARRELL, AssistantEngineer - Mike Ross, AdditionalEngineer, AssistantEngineer - ELVIS COSTELLO, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, MainArtist - John Grimes, AssistantEngineer - D.P.A. MAC MANUS, Composer, Lyricist, Arranger, Bells, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Bass - Cait O'Riordan, Composer, Lyricist - Lance Phillips, AssistantEngineer - Stacey Baird, AssistantEngineer

2008 © 1989 Warner Records Inc. ℗ 1989 Warner Records Inc.

12
Miss Macbeth
00:04:23

Roger Lewis, Baritone Saxophone - Gregory Davis, Trumpet - Davy Spillane, Bagpipes - Michael Blair, Bells, Snare Drums, Glockenspiel, Tambourine - T-Bone Burnett, Producer - KEVIN KILLEN, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - Pete Thomas, Drums - MITCHELL FROOM, Organ, Electric Piano - DAVE FARRELL, AssistantEngineer - Mike Ross, AdditionalEngineer, AssistantEngineer - Donal Lunny, Bodhrán, Bouzouki - ELVIS COSTELLO, Producer, MainArtist - John Grimes, AssistantEngineer - Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Horn - Efrem Towns, Trumpet - Kevin Harris, Tenor Saxophone - D.P.A. MAC MANUS, Composer, Lyricist, Arranger, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals - Kirk Joseph, Horn - Steve Wickham, Fiddle - Lance Phillips, AssistantEngineer - Stacey Baird, AssistantEngineer

2008 © 1989 Warner Records Inc. ℗ 1989 Warner Records Inc.

13
Any King's Shilling
00:06:05

Davy Spillane, Bagpipes, Low Whistle - Christy Moore, Bodhrán - T-Bone Burnett, Producer - KEVIN KILLEN, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - DAVE FARRELL, AssistantEngineer - Mike Ross, AdditionalEngineer, AssistantEngineer - Donal Lunny, Bouzouki - ELVIS COSTELLO, Producer, MainArtist - John Grimes, AssistantEngineer - Derek Bell, Cymbals, Harp - D.P.A. MAC MANUS, Composer, Lyricist, Arranger, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals - Buell Niedlinger, Bass - Steve Wickham, Fiddle - Lance Phillips, AssistantEngineer - Stacey Baird, AssistantEngineer

2008 © 1989 Warner Records Inc. ℗ 1989 Warner Records Inc.

14
Coal-Train Robberies
00:03:16

Benmont Tench, Organ, Spinet - Michael Blair, Bells, Percussion, Timpani - T-Bone Burnett, Producer, Guitar - Chrissie Hynde, Harmony Vocals - KEVIN KILLEN, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - Jerry Scheff, Bass - DAVE FARRELL, AssistantEngineer - Jerry Marotta, Drums - Mike Ross, AdditionalEngineer, AssistantEngineer - ELVIS COSTELLO, Producer, MainArtist - John Grimes, AssistantEngineer - D.P.A. MAC MANUS, Composer, Lyricist, Arranger, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Piano, Vocals - Lance Phillips, AssistantEngineer - Stacey Baird, AssistantEngineer

2008 © 1989 Warner Records Inc. ℗ 1989 Warner Records Inc.

15
Last Boat Leaving
00:03:30

T-Bone Wolk, Accordion, Bass - T-Bone Burnett, Producer - Jim Keltner, Drums - KEVIN KILLEN, Producer, Mixer, Engineer - DAVE FARRELL, AssistantEngineer - Mike Ross, AdditionalEngineer, AssistantEngineer - ELVIS COSTELLO, Producer, MainArtist - John Grimes, AssistantEngineer - D.P.A. MAC MANUS, Composer, Lyricist, Arranger, Bells, Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, Organ, Piano, Vocals - Lance Phillips, AssistantEngineer - Stacey Baird, AssistantEngineer

2008 © 1989 Warner Records Inc. ℗ 1989 Warner Records Inc.

Albumbeschreibung

Following a pair of near-masterpieces in 1986, Elvis Costello went into semi-seclusion, separating from the Attractions (once again) and Columbia Records, emerging three years later on Warner Brothers with Spike. Mockingly billing himself as "the Beloved Entertainer" on the album's front cover, there's nevertheless a real sense of showbiz pizzazz here, as he tries on a little bit of everything. You like Costello the soul singer? Try "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror," recorded with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Costello the pop sophisticate? How about the torch song "Baby Plays Around" or "God's Comic," a tune that mocks Andrew Lloyd Webber, while aching to eclipse him. The angry young man? There's "Tramp the Dirt Down," perhaps the nastiest anti-Thatcher song ever waxed. Costello the witty wordsmith? Well, there's "Pads, Paws and Claws," a rockabilly tune overflowing with labored puns. Costello the gifted pure pop tunesmith? There's plenty of that here, from "This Town" with Roger McGuinn and Paul McCartney and the lovely "Veronica," a tune co-written with McCartney that became one of his biggest hits. So, there's a lot here -- everything except focus, actually. And Costello certainly likes to indulge himself here, throwing in the awkward "Chewing Gum" and the instrumental "Stalin Malone" for good measure. There are some moments that work quite well, but there's nothing connecting them, and if anything, he's trying way too hard -- and, for all of the overarching ambition of his early-'80s recordings, that criticism never applied before. Certainly, there are cuts for cultists to enjoy, but Spike's sprawl works against it, resulting in a maddeningly diffuse listen.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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