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Rock - Released October 12, 2018 | Concord Records

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From the release of his debut album, My Aim Is True, in 1977, Elvis Costello expressed his musical gluttony by mixing explosive pub rock, reggae tones, almost country-like ballads and pop songs sculpted with crystalline arpeggios. It was this eclecticism that allowed him to work with people as diverse as George Jones (the godfather of country music), Burt Bacharach (the master of pop lounge), the mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, the jazz guitarist Bill Frisell, and even the rappers from The Roots, just to name a few… Forty years later, the elusive spectacled Brit (having always been fond of concept albums), releases Look Now with the Imposters, featuring Steve Nieve on keyboards, Davey Faragher on bass and Pete Thomas (already the drummer of his group Attractions). This group, with whom he recorded Momofuku in 2008, give him the chance to get his writing pen out once again… and it’s as sharp as ever. Here he has shared the writing responsibilities with the great Carole King on Burnt Sugar Is so Bitter, co-written 25 years earlier, as well as with Bacharach on Photographs Can Lie and Don't Look Now. Once again, it feels like Costello is searching for the perfect pop song. He takes an approach that screams 1960s. However, the timelessness of the album anchors the songwriter well in his time, in 2018. Costello succeeds in writing melodies and lyrics that stick in his listeners’ heads. A good song, as we all know, is ageless and Elvis Costello certainly reminds us of that here... © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Rock - Released January 1, 2007 | UMe - Elvis Costello

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Elvis Costello was as much a pub rocker as he was a punk rocker and nowhere is that more evident than on his debut, My Aim Is True. It's not just that Clover, a San Franciscan rock outfit led by Huey Lewis (absent here), back him here, not the Attractions; it's that his sensibility is borrowed from the pile-driving rock & roll and folksy introspection of pub rockers like Brinsley Schwarz, adding touches of cult singer/songwriters like Randy Newman and David Ackles. Then, there's the infusion of pure nastiness and cynical humor, which is pure Costello. That blend of classicist sensibilities and cleverness make this collection of shiny roots rock a punk record -- it informs his nervy performances and his prickly songs. Of all classic punk debuts, this remains perhaps the most idiosyncratic because it's not cathartic in sound, only in spirit. Which, of course, meant that it could play to a broader audience, and Linda Ronstadt did indeed cover the standout ballad "Alison." Still, there's no mistaking this for anything other than a punk record, and it's a terrific one at that, since even if he buries his singer/songwriter inclinations, they shine through as brightly as his cheerfully mean humor and immense musical skill; he sounds as comfortable with a '50s knockoff like "No Dancing" as he does on the reggae-inflected "Less Than Zero." Costello went on to more ambitious territory fairly quickly, but My Aim Is True is a phenomenal debut, capturing a songwriter and musician whose words were as rich and clever as his music. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2007 | UMe - Elvis Costello

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Elvis Costello was as much a pub rocker as he was a punk rocker and nowhere is that more evident than on his debut, My Aim Is True. It's not just that Clover, a San Franciscan rock outfit led by Huey Lewis (absent here), back him here, not the Attractions; it's that his sensibility is borrowed from the pile-driving rock & roll and folksy introspection of pub rockers like Brinsley Schwarz, adding touches of cult singer/songwriters like Randy Newman and David Ackles. Then, there's the infusion of pure nastiness and cynical humor, which is pure Costello. That blend of classicist sensibilities and cleverness make this collection of shiny roots rock a punk record -- it informs his nervy performances and his prickly songs. Of all classic punk debuts, this remains perhaps the most idiosyncratic because it's not cathartic in sound, only in spirit. Which, of course, meant that it could play to a broader audience, and Linda Ronstadt did indeed cover the standout ballad "Alison." Still, there's no mistaking this for anything other than a punk record, and it's a terrific one at that, since even if he buries his singer/songwriter inclinations, they shine through as brightly as his cheerfully mean humor and immense musical skill; he sounds as comfortable with a '50s knockoff like "No Dancing" as he does on the reggae-inflected "Less Than Zero." Costello went on to more ambitious territory fairly quickly, but My Aim Is True is a phenomenal debut, capturing a songwriter and musician whose words were as rich and clever as his music. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1981 | UMe - Elvis Costello

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Following the frenzied pop-soul of Get Happy!!, Elvis Costello & the Attractions quickly returned to the studio and recorded Trust, their most ambitious and eclectic album to date. As if he were proving his stylistic diversity and sophistication after the concentrated genre experiment of Get Happy!!, Costello assembled Trust as a stylistic tour de force, packing the record with a wild array of material. "Clubland" has jazzy flourishes, "Lovers' Walk" rolls to a Bo Diddley beat, "Luxembourg" is rockabilly redux, "Watch Your Step" is soul-pop, "From a Whisper to a Scream" rocks as hard as anything since This Year's Model, "Shot with His Own Gun" is Tin Pan Alley pop, "Different Finger" is the first country song he put on an official album, and that's not even counting highlights like "New Lace Sleeves" and "White Knuckles," which essentially stick to Costello's signature pop, but offer more complex arrangements and musicianship than before. In fact, both "complexity" and "sophistication" are keywords to the success of Trust -- without delving into the minutely textured arrangements that would dominate his next pop album, Imperial Bedroom -- Costello & the Attractions demonstrate their musical skill and savvy by essentially sticking to the direct sound of their four-piece band. In the process, they recorded, arguably, their most impressive album, one that demonstrates all sides of Costello's songwriting and performing personality without succumbing to pretentiousness. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1978 | UMe - Elvis Costello

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Rock - Released July 1, 1977 | Elvis Costello Catalog

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Pop - Released January 1, 1979 | UMe - Elvis Costello

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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | UMe - Elvis Costello

Despite cameos in Spice World, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, and 200 Cigarettes, very few would consider Elvis Costello a star of the silver screen, but the singer/songwriter has soundtracked many a film since he stormed onto the scene in the late '70s. The 2012 compilation In Motion Pictures doesn't contain all of the songs that have popped up in movies over the years but it has 15 of them, making a shift from songs licensed to films toward songs written for films about halfway through. Apart from "Oh Well," a song cut for the little-seen hip-hop opera Prison Song, "Sparkling Day" from One Day, and "You Stole My Bell" from The Family Man, most of these songs aren't particularly hard to find on other Costello compilations, but this does provide a service in rounding up a bunch of stray songs of varying shades of quality. Although this is certainly inconsistent -- its momentum stalls on the stately relatively recent songs -- in an odd way, what's most interesting about In Motion Pictures is that it's the only compilation to touch upon nearly every phase of Costello's career. Here, you can hear the man evolve from nervy punk rocker to sophisticated balladeer, trading personas like an actor finds new roles. And while that might not make for the sturdiest of compilations, it is one that is quietly -- and inadvertently -- revealing. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released July 2, 1982 | UMe - Elvis Costello

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Pop - Released February 15, 1980 | UMe - Elvis Costello

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Pop - Released January 1, 1998 | Island Mercury

Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach first collaborated on "God Give Me Strength," a sweeping ballad that functioned as the centerpiece in Allison Anders' Grace of My Heart. It was a stunning song in the tradition of Bacharach's classic '60s work and it was successful enough that the composers decided to collaborate on a full album, Painted from Memory. Wisely, they chose to work within the stylistic parameters of Bacharach's '60s material, but Painted from Memory never sounds like a stylistic exercise. Instead, it's a return to form for both artists. Bacharach hasn't written such graceful, powerful melodies since his glory days, and Costello hasn't crafted such a fully realized album since King of America. It's a testament to both that even if the album is clearly in Bacharach's territory, it feels like a genuine collaboration. Often, the music not only evokes the spirit of Dionne Warwick, it's reminiscent of Elvis' torching ballads for Trust. Costello keeps Bacharach from his schmaltzier tendencies, and Bacharach keeps Costello from overwriting. With its lush arrangements, sighing brass and strings, gentle pianos, and backing vocals, it's clearly a classicist album, yet it sounds utterly timeless. Its melodies are immediate, its emotions subtle, its impact lasting -- and, with that timeless sound, Painted from Memory illustrates that craft cannot only be its own reward, it can be genuinely moving. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released February 1, 1986 | UMe - Elvis Costello

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Rock - Released August 5, 1983 | UMe - Elvis Costello

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Pop - Released July 28, 2017 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Pop - Released January 23, 1981 | UMe - Elvis Costello

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Rock - Released January 1, 2007 | UMe - Elvis Costello

Six years after the commencement of a major Elvis Costello reissue campaign at Rhino, his catalog transferred over to Universal, which had been releasing new Elvis music since 1998's Painted from Memory. Like every one of his previous two big catalog shifts -- a campaign with Rykodisc/Demon in 1994, a jump to Rhino in 2001 -- the 2007 series is preceded by a new hits collection, this time The Best of Elvis Costello: The First 10 Years, a 22-track collection of highlights that's pretty much exactly what it says it is. It is quite similar to the last previous single-disc collection, the 1994 Ryko/Demon set The Very Best of Elvis Costello and the Attractions, which also ran 22 tracks, 19 of which also appear on The First 10 Years. The three omissions -- "Watch Your Step," "New Amsterdam," and "Love Field" -- will not be missed by anybody looking for a new Costello comp in 2007, particularly because all three substitutions are better choices for the casual man: "New Lace Sleeves," "Almost Blue," and "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes," which bizarrely wasn't on the 1994 set. With these three songs rubbing shoulders with "Alison," "Watching the Detectives," "Pump It Up," "Oliver's Army," "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding," and all the other usual suspects, The Best of Elvis Costello: The First 10 Years winds up being the best single-disc summary and introduction to Costello's prime years. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released September 15, 1986 | UMe - Elvis Costello

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Pop - Released October 23, 1981 | UMe - Elvis Costello

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Rock - Released November 10, 2008 | Rhino - Warner Records

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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Rock - Released November 1, 1980 | UMe - Elvis Costello

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