HopeYou'reHappyNow wrote:I can't claim to have objective opinions about Elvis - all my viewpoints are entirely subjective!
Poor Deportee wrote:Never a big one for lists - I prefer meandering discussion But I'll give it a whirl. These aren't necessarily the EC albums I would single out as objectively his 'greatest.' They're the ones that I personally have listened to and enjoyed the most over the years, which means that personal and idiosyncratic considerations are larded in with more strictly critical factors. Unable to just 'list,' I've added a quick word of explanation to each pick.
10. Armed Forces. A fundamental breakthrough in giving us the politicization of EC's early persona. Great hooks to boot.
9. Mighty Like a Rose. A flawed and bizarre album, but I love its sheer eccentricity as well as courageous compositions like 'All Grown Up' and 'Sumnmer.' What's really underrated here is his voice - its timbre the best of his entire career. It's like fine leather...worn by a leper.
8. Momofuku. An unassuming, engaging collection. I love records like this, just a batch of good songs, with no particular big concept or overarching agenda. 'Mr. Feathers' is, strangely enough, one of my all-time favourites - perhaps EC's best excursion into fusing the musicality of McCartney with Lennonish acid reflux. Pair that with the steamroller of 'Stella Hurt' and this record has an irresistable core.
7. Secret, Profane, and Sugarcane. A controversial pick, but this is one of his best sounding records to my ear. After a poor beginning, it rises to a great second half by virtue of its unique combination of sound and lyric: half a great record, then. But what a half.
6. Trust. See Momofuku. 'Fish and Chip Paper' is hilarious. And damn, could that band ever play.
5. National Ransom. Three songs - 'Jimmie', 'Voice,' and 'Dr Watson' - that rate with the very best of his entire career, along with a whole crop of other terrific numbers. Only the dubious crime of excessive generosity in including a few middling songs causes it to fall out of the top three.
4. Spike. My first Elvis Costello album. 'Nuff said.
3. Blood and Chocolate. The whole album sounds like it was made by some weird industrial organism. 'Battered Old Bird' is the only misstep and it took me years to realize even that. Just a tank of a record.
2. Get Happy!! Has there ever been an album with a higher percentage of catchily perfect pop songs? The absolute pinnacle of Elvis Costello as a pop genius on speed. My only quibble is the inexplicably tinny sound - I could never work out if this was a consequence of 'groove cramming' or the desired effect. If the latter, why?
1. King of America. Giving us Elvis the epic balladeer, the last four songs represent the acme of his achievement as a songwriter, and possibly the most powerful quartet of popular songs in sequence I've ever heard on any record. An extravagant claim, but one I just might be willing to defend.
Jack of All Parades wrote:
First, I like how you stick to your guns. We have gone back and forth on several of these selections over the years[I still consign MLAR to the dustbin of recorded history and am quite happy that my former cd has found an appreciative place in your home]. Like that you try to encapsulate your favorites with pungent thought bites that I notice really do catch the flavor of the individual album as you have experienced it. Nice job! But I will never like SPS no matter how often I have tried to hear it through your considerable listening ears-such is indivdual fan admiration.
Second-no love for IB? Not even the least?
Third- agree with the mighty Dr. Watson, I Presume. That song has grown appreciably for me after many listens. I would add You Hung the Moon to your list on that album. Quite the third act for our man.
Fourth- these lists demonstrate real generational change. Marvel at the preponderance of first period selections and the marginal love shown to the 90s.
Fifth- you make me want to reconsider Momofuko amongst my choices. Is that not the real purpose and usefulness of these list exercises?
Jack of All Parades wrote:PD- I think I hear and read what you mean about that middle period and particularly the 90s portion of his career. I do think there are highlights in that period- TJL and PFM- and I concur with your thoughts on ATUB[an album I rarely play these days].
I think his casting about in that decade for a new 'voice' was a success as you state. It has led to a narrative voice that is more humane and less judgmental, not as shrill and 'jaundiced', as it musically and lyrically surveys periods and people and their complex relationships. I am even eager to discuss with you over a good bottle how he has morphed[somewhat] for my ears into competition for an artist we hold quite dear- Bob Dylan. There are moments on Momofuko and National Ransom where he approaches the master's narrative art. Big statement but I am prepared to back it up in private and public conversation.
Thank you for your thoughtful pointing of the way in this discussion. As usual you give me much to consider.
Poor Deportee wrote:I wish, indeed, that I could truly warm up to IB. But something about it has always left me cold despite enormous love for some of its key tracks ('Almost Blue,' 'Man out of Time' and especially 'Beyond Belief,' which really is). It may be that my CD suffers from the bad sound of being the first-generation CD recording and that the remastered versions would transform my response. Or, it may be that the whole business of creating little sonic 'mystery rooms' for the listener just leaves me cold - preferring as I do the more immediate sound captured on albums like KOA, Blood, and even SP & S.
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