"Goodbye Cruel World" Redux

Pretty self-explanatory
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Jack of All Parades
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"Goodbye Cruel World" Redux

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sun Feb 06, 2011 10:35 am

I'll take a stab at Pophead's challenge. Here goes!

There has always seemed to be a good album lurking within "Goodbye Cruel World". I have never felt that it is EC and the Attraction's 'worst album'. Never have much liked the title though-much more prefer PD's possible replacement title "spite, lucre & resentment".

It's 1983 going into 1984 and his marriage is a shambles but professionally he is experiencing a modicum of economic success coming off stronger sales from "Punch the Clock" and the great, invigorating shows he has been doing at the time to promote that record[I and others have vouched for the sheer 'joy' one experienced when in attendance at any of them at the time.]. So what does EC do? Dutifully goes back into the studio[punching the clock] for new product[like clock work-pad pun] and gives us this record. Big Mistake!

I really wished he could have held off issuing product at the time because that is what a lot of these songs sound like. I've always thought you had three albums in there- the guts of a solid, saloon album[a la Sinatra] with "Home Truth", "Love Field", "Inch by Inch", "The Comedians", "Your Not the Only Flame in Town", "The Great Unknown" with its great dissection of past love cliches and the scary "Room With No Number". I would have also added the out take "Turning the Town Red". These are a solid core of statements revolving around guilt and despair- of that disenchantment with, and yet an acknowledgment of, how attraction and lust can be so seductive. The conceit[and terror] of "Room With No Number" love lurking in the shadows and walled in confines of a room continues to be very disturbing for me.

It could have been a strong record with its self-laceration and wallowing in quilt- a man's attempt at wishing "he could be The man he was before he was me". I really would have loved to see him tackle his predicament in a complete record[ wait he did that, it was just another record called "Painted From Memory" but that is another conversation].

The second record is basically outtakes for me with songs like "The Deportee's Club" with its pseudo "Subterranean Homesick Blues" style rant on disenchantment and "Worthless Thing" with its excoriation of the fame myth using the other Elvis as the foil.

Then there are the songs that probably would have been better suited for "King of America" like "Sour Milk Cow Blues" and "I Wanna Be Loved" or "Peace In Our Time" creating a triptych of political commentary on "Punch the Clock".

EC says he was greatly influenced by one of the all-time albums about broken love- Richard and Linda Thompson's "Shoot Out the Lights". Hindsight has me wishing he really had incorporated Mr. Thompson's guitar playing into the core songs. The absence of the guitar commentary Thompson could have provided is a minus for me. As well, as with many of these reissues, have little use for much of the filler demos on the 2nd cd. They add little for me and as historical documents I have little use for them.

I have never disliked this album- I just wish it had been constituted differently as the 'saloon' or 'torch' record he could have made. I do not play it as often as others but when it is pulled off the shelf for a spin I find myself sighing for what might have been although I am eternally grateful for the funny and inventive videos that came out with the record. The best he ever did in that medium.
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'

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Re: "Goodbye Cruel World" Redux

Postby pophead2k » Sun Feb 06, 2011 4:35 pm

While I have no problem with the production on 'Punch the Clock', I DO feel that this album was made less than perfect by the glossy sheen and, more problematically, by the 'upbeat' arrangements. The solo tour surrounding this album show EC to be in a very melancholy (and very Richard Thompson inspired) frame of mind. The solo version of 'Deportee' is a perfect example. I love EC's solo version (as well as the Christy Moore version on 'Lost Dogs...'), but the upbeat version on GCW loses a lot in the translation. And thank God Orbison rescued 'The Comedians', restoring it to EC's original version. The silly 5/4 time signature adopted for GCW all but obscures any meaning in the song.

Lyrically, this is a pretty stellar effort. 'Home Truth' is more like 'Brutal Truth' and 'Worthless Thing' predicts the current celeb obsession with sad accuracy. 'The Only Flame in Town' may be the height of EC's metaphorical masterpieces and I enjoy all versions of this song I've heard.

IMHO, the first half of the album far outshines the second. The fussy production of 'Joe Porterhouse' and 'The Great Unknown' really dilute the message of the songs. And while many admire 'Peace in our Time', it comes off a little flat and preachy for me.

Still, if this was my worst album, I'd be pretty happy.

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Re: "Goodbye Cruel World" Redux

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sun Feb 06, 2011 4:49 pm

Pophead, agree with you regarding the production on this album. Never had a problem with "Punch the Clock". Unfortunately, the blame for that 'Sheen' on this record falls squarely on EC as he states in his liner notes on the Rhino rerelease- he struck a bargain and Langer and Winstanley only got to go full bore on "flame" and "Room Without a Number"- EC has to bear the blame for the rest.
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Re: "Goodbye Cruel World" Redux

Postby alexv » Sun Feb 06, 2011 5:58 pm

Not a fan of this record. Always associate it with the end of the first, golden era. After this came the Beard, T-Bone, Americana; Elvis' Band was in; our Elvis' band was out. Then came the half-hearted reunion, Esperanto style for BAC. Those two record were great, but very different from the early stuff, and just around the corner was the new record label, and the baroque productions of the Warner years.

The record itself is I think the only EC record where you can tell (and he's made no secret of this) that his heatr wasn't in it. It still has some great songs: I love Inch by Inch, Love Field and Peace, although I agree with Pophead that Peace is marred by preachiness.

Flame in Town is, for me, marred by, err, an overemphasis, shall we say, on incendiary matters. I prefer Daryl and the sax to the flames, tinders, cinders, torches, embers, matches, fires, and infernos that ignite the song.

This being Elvis, however, even the mediocre songs are redeemed by great snippets. Home Truth has the great "is it my shirt or my toothpaste that is whiter than white" line; Worthless Thing has vintage Elvis Presley wine, and the killer "clockwork cat and conceivable kitten" finale; The Comedians has one of his great choruses in "But i'm up while the dawn is breaking..."; and Deportees has the secret life of Frank Sinatra riff.

For better or worse, the image that sticks to me about this record is the video for I Wanna Be Loved. At the time I thought the guy was having a nervous breakdown and this record was all he could manage. But, you know, there used to be an incendiary poster on the Board, WHAR, who swore by this record. I think it was his favorite record. We should get an assessment from him.

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Re: "Goodbye Cruel World" Redux

Postby cwr » Sun Feb 06, 2011 11:57 pm

For me, the parts of GCW that work are stellar.

There was a time when I disliked "The Only Flame In Town" for its 80s production sheen, but I know prefer it to the Punch The Clock version of "Everyday I Write The Book." I think it is an entirely successful stab at an 80s pop hit, with a great melody, fun lyrics and a terrific "feel." It also has a ridiculously silly video.

And even Elvis agrees that the video for "I Wanna Be Loved" absolutely MAKES that song. Can't hear it without picturing him in that photo booth.

The first half of the album has some terrific songs, one after another: "Home Truth", "Room Without A Number", "Inch By Inch", "Worthless Thing"... This is starting out to be a fucking terrific record, and it's only in the 2nd half that it starts to lose me. I have never much cared for "The Deportees Club" or "Sour Milk Cow Blues."

But "The Great Unknown" is a song he should pull out more in concert. "Footprints set in sentimental cement" is one of my favorite snippets of EC lyric, hands down...

Would it have been a better album if he'd made it after the solo tour, when he had a better idea of what he wanted to do? Probably, yes. But it would have been good in different ways, and I like the ways that the actual GCW is good. He went on to make KOA in the spirit of that solo tour, and now we can enjoy both.

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Re: "Goodbye Cruel World" Redux

Postby Poor Deportee » Mon Feb 07, 2011 1:39 am

True confessions time: this is the only major EC release that I do not own. :oops: Ironic given my moniker - which I drew from Christy Moore's spectacular treatment, not the original. So no comment from me, for once.
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Re: "Goodbye Cruel World" Redux

Postby Jack of All Parades » Mon Feb 07, 2011 5:49 pm

And here I thought you were paying tribute to Mr. Guthrie and those poor lost souls who perished in a fireball over Los Gatos Canyon.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9A5gCDNO-M

or this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgGYIj-_ ... re=related
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Re: "Goodbye Cruel World" Redux

Postby sulky lad » Mon Feb 07, 2011 6:20 pm

cwr writes
But "The Great Unknown" is a song he should pull out more in concert. "Footprints set in sentimental cement" is one of my favorite snippets of EC lyric, hands down...

Absolutely - it's actually me calling out for this on my bootleg recording of EC&As at St Austell in 1984 and I never quite worked out why EC doesn't play it more. I also felt that Deportee's Club and Sour Milk Cow Blues were terrific live even though the former often began with Steve's Yamaha synth wailing down like a siren in a very mid 80s fashion. It was songs like Room With No Number, Worthless Thing, Flame,Comedians and Joe Porterhouse which somehow just didn't work in their arrangements on this album that dragged it down for me and they weren't strong enough to withstand these arrangements, unlike Everyday for example. Quite what the best format for playing them is however, beyond my ability to deduce.

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Re: "Goodbye Cruel World" Redux

Postby sulky lad » Sun Feb 13, 2011 10:49 am

Slightly early Valentine's gift !!
following the discussion on GCW, I dug out a few of my shows from France February 1984 and I've upped the Clermont Ferrand show from 14th Feb 1984 on dime.
It's available here :
http://www.dimeadozen.org/torrents-deta ... ?id=344680

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Re: "Goodbye Cruel World" Redux

Postby docinwestchester » Sun Feb 13, 2011 11:11 am

sulky lad wrote:Slightly early Valentine's gift !!
following the discussion on GCW, I dug out a few of my shows from France February 1984 and I've upped the Clermont Ferrand show from 14th Feb 1984 on dime.
It's available here :
http://www.dimeadozen.org/torrents-deta ... ?id=344680


Thanks for doing this. Looks good.

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Re: "Goodbye Cruel World" Redux

Postby krm » Sun Feb 13, 2011 11:33 am

sulky lad wrote:Slightly early Valentine's gift !!
following the discussion on GCW, I dug out a few of my shows from France February 1984 and I've upped the Clermont Ferrand show from 14th Feb 1984 on dime.
It's available here :
http://www.dimeadozen.org/torrents-deta ... ?id=344680


interesting stuff indeed! Thanks for sharing! I have one of those France 1984 on tape somewhere.....

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Re: "Goodbye Cruel World" Redux

Postby bronxapostle » Sun Feb 13, 2011 1:17 pm

yeh, i guess we should ALL make a concerted effort to upload "our" shows so that everyone can enjoy. damn it i never learned these freaking torrents. thanks sulky and doc for assistance always!

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Re: "Goodbye Cruel World" Redux

Postby krm » Sun Feb 13, 2011 1:24 pm

bronxapostle wrote:yeh, i guess we should ALL make a concerted effort to upload "our" shows so that everyone can enjoy. damn it i never learned these freaking torrents. thanks sulky and doc for assistance always!


getting bad consious....... be patient out there.............

I am slowly preparing to share a few of the tapes that are not so widely circulating, however time is a bit scarce nowadays....
Last edited by krm on Sun Feb 13, 2011 1:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "Goodbye Cruel World" Redux

Postby sulky lad » Sun Feb 13, 2011 2:54 pm

spill the beans, what not widely circulating shows - we're all intrigued 8)

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Re: "Goodbye Cruel World" Redux

Postby bronxapostle » Sun Feb 13, 2011 3:10 pm

you know sulky...upon further reflection: WE REALLY GOT TO GET A BETTER ORGANIZED BOOTLEG & ARTWORK corner established somewhere here? a new better entitled thread won't cut it, right? maybe a "section" in the home page of departments??? the wiki is nice, but NOT devout when it comes to recordings and accompanying artwork. just sayin'/thinkin'...

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Re: "Goodbye Cruel World" Redux

Postby sulky lad » Sun Feb 13, 2011 5:04 pm

Absolutely BA - I always feel bad that I never get to go through the wiki and amend the details that are there but what with recording and trading, I rarely have the time to do that. Last week I finally updated my Live Costello "show" concert list and I've got about 1600 performances ranging from radio appearances and soundboards of FM and better quality down to audience shows recorded on cassette decks the size of a small South American republic. I'll often send my lists out but my codes and gradings are as always somewhat subjective and a "definitive" list would surely be welcomed by the numerous collectors many of whom are as familiar from here as they are from dime. We also need to consider how we can share without the "preciousness" of dime and some of the more discerning collectors who only like crystal clear recordings and make these shows available to anyone who wants them. At one stage I thought mediafire would serve but I've had too many viruses to trust that again. I'm not PC savvy enuogh to solve this by any means but I do have a large collection (oh err missus !!) :oops: :lol:

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Re: "Goodbye Cruel World" Redux

Postby docinwestchester » Sun Feb 13, 2011 7:42 pm

sulky lad wrote:We also need to consider how we can share without the "preciousness" of dime and some of the more discerning collectors who only like crystal clear recordings and make these shows available to anyone who wants them.


Dime, or any other torrent website, is by far the best way to share music. Don't worry about those who are judgmental about sound quality. Just upload the damn concert tapes and let the chips fall where they may. Provide a sample and let the peeps choose what they deem adequate.

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Re: "Goodbye Cruel World" Redux

Postby docinwestchester » Sun Feb 13, 2011 7:49 pm

I'd love to see an index of EC torrents and mp3 uploads in an organized chronological fashion. There is an mp3 index for Bruce Springsteen that is an excellent resource. Why not one here?

http://btxmp3index.freeforums.org/

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Re: "Goodbye Cruel World" Redux

Postby bronxapostle » Sun Feb 13, 2011 8:33 pm

docinwestchester wrote:I'd love to see an index of EC torrents and mp3 uploads in an organized chronological fashion. There is an mp3 index for Bruce Springsteen that is an excellent resource. Why not one here?

http://btxmp3index.freeforums.org/


that's IT!!!! EXACTLY like that would work....

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Re: "Goodbye Cruel World" Redux

Postby docinwestchester » Sun Feb 13, 2011 9:45 pm

bronxapostle wrote:
docinwestchester wrote:I'd love to see an index of EC torrents and mp3 uploads in an organized chronological fashion. There is an mp3 index for Bruce Springsteen that is an excellent resource. Why not one here?

http://btxmp3index.freeforums.org/


that's IT!!!! EXACTLY like that would work....


Any volunteers?

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Re: "Goodbye Cruel World" Redux

Postby scamp » Mon Feb 14, 2011 9:03 am

I worked on this for myself so I could keep track of most recordings available. I try to update when I see new recordings but its easy to get behind. It is linked to what's available in the Wiki. I have some torrent links but that was too much trouble keeping track of all the torrents running and then eventually falling off trackers. I thought it more important to list what is available. I don't know php code to run a torrent tracker but I figure this is a start. There are probably typos and dead links cause I still need to update but if anyone cares its on the net and accessible (while I have cable anyway). If you care to add more shows, corrections or input that's cool just pm me.

Live Reference
http://webpages.charter.net/blkfiver/ec ... 70tab.html

Note: If you are using an old browser the page may not format correctly. Plus if the type seems to small you can use page zoom to adjust also.

I also use http://www.bootsdaily.com/ to see any new recordings that are torrenting (does not list pirate sites).
Last edited by scamp on Sun Feb 20, 2011 6:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "Goodbye Cruel World" Redux

Postby wordnat » Tue Feb 15, 2011 11:21 pm

"Worthless Thing" and "The Great Unknown" succeed despite the dated, wildly-inappropriate production. I can go years without listening to any of the other tunes on here....

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Re: "Goodbye Cruel World" Redux

Postby thenewsoftshoe » Sat Feb 19, 2011 8:44 am

There are no apologies needed for the 80's-sound and production of "Goodbye Cruel World" for two reasons--

1) IT WAS THE 80'S!
2) It's a fine album.

The only two tracks which deserve the harsh treatment that this entire album seems to receive are the two singles. "The Only Flame In Town" is a track that has grown on me quickly and tremendously, whereas "I Wanna Be Loved" will most likely never receive another full play through from me. When you examine this album without those two tracks-- is it really all that 80's sounding? Joe Porterhouse and The Comedians remain near the top of Elvis Costello's greatest songs, and they sound like nothing I have heard from that time period, at least not to the point that their fantastic hooks get lost in the mix. The Deportees Club is a personal favorite; I love the rambunctious Elvis when he channels it genuinely (Playboy To Man = No Thanks), and the only thing to tarnish this track was its boring-as-fuck remake for King of America. Room With No Number remains in the class of Joe Porterhouse for me- its vocal melody and catchy chorus are viral. Inch By Inch is beautifully seductive, and Worthless Thing remains as listenable as ever. I cannot back up Love Field, but a lot of people who shit on this album seem to accept that track. And Home Truth-- well, if you don't like Home Truth, maybe you just don't like E.C.

Even its outtakes are great (as most E.C. b-sides tend to be). "Withered and Died" is a near perfect reflection of where E.C.'s mind had sunken to, and I love "Turning The Town Red" and the Nick Lowe-accompanied "Baby It's You" remake.

I've always loved this album. I've never loved The Juliet Letters, North, Kojak Variety, or Il Sogno. Lets start making excuses for those albums and let Goodbye Cruel World be a success.
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Re: "Goodbye Cruel World" Redux

Postby redsfan720 » Mon Jan 16, 2012 3:10 pm

Just gave this album a full listen for the first time in a while and found this thread.

My thoughts: I would disagree with anyone that calls this a terrible album. It's not that; its songs are, for the most part, well written. Some are excellent. Some are timeless. The album, as it is very well documented, was a simple victim of moment and circumstance.

I think one of its most crippling circumstances is that it was released by Elvis Costello. For all of the great albums he and the Attractions released before the album at hand, the amount of contrast between those releases and this serve as an almost-crippling device that makes critics more apt to criticize simply because, He put out Imperial Bedroom two years ago, and now this?

But because it's different—yes, different in a very polarizing way, but still—I've never held that against this album. I don't think it's brilliant like some of his work that preceded it, but I think there are moments of brilliance that stand as such today. Many of the lyrics date Peace in Our Time, but it's a beautiful song in its own right with what is, to me, one of Costello's most memorable melodies. I can understand the arguments against the song, but it truly is among my favorite Costello tracks on this album and otherwise.

It seems that many of you are in agreement of the handful of songs that are timely enough to still be sticking around; among them are Love Field, Home Truth, Inch By Inch. Of course, when this album was written, recorded, released and almost as quickly dismissed, nobody knew (except maybe Costello) which songs would stick around a few decades later. It certainly is a tidy way to critique songs with that much distance since the date of release.

Of course the two singles from this album, Only Flame and I Wanna Be Loved, don't quite pass that test, and that's one of the arguments against Goodbye Cruel World. Personally, I don't hold that against them. They are what they are, and I enjoy them. I probably like Only Flame a little too much. I admit to something of a guilty-pleasure soft spot for '80s pop music (and keep in mind that I was born in the late '80s so I didn't have to live through it...), but I think even beyond that particular novelty it's a good song. Not unlike Everyday I Write the Book, the songwriter went with an idea and wrote a pretty damn clever pop song around it. Any lyric that rhymes "tender" with "tinder" is all right with me.

It also makes me wish Costello and Daryl Hall would have worked together once or twice more in some capacity or another.

I Wanna Be Loved is a damn good pop song in 1984, and moments of that record still jump out. As it was stated earlier in this thread, the music video for that record is what most will remember about it. And I think that's OK. I listen to this track with a fair amount of regularity. Sometimes I just want a taste of pure '80s eightiesness, and this is a good place to get it. Every time I listen to it, I can see Elvis in the photo booth. I know very few songs by any artist with which I associate such strong imagery.

I do wonder how much different this track would have been if Costello had chosen to cover it in 1980 or 1986 instead of the era in which he did. What if he had chosen to cover I Wanna Be Loved on Get Happy and I Can't Stand Up for Falling Down or I Stand Accused on Goodbye Cruel World? They wouldn't have fit the mood of the album, I know. But it's an interesting hypothetical to entertain yourself on your commute to work, anyway.

To get back on track: There are forgettable moments among the album, yes. Sour Milk-Cow Blues is a particular song for which I have no taste. I'm also no fan of Joe Porterhouse. If I were to say this is the only Elvis Costello and the Attractions album (or any album by any great band) that had a track or two I didn't like, I'd be lying. I consider Armed Forces to be one of my favorite all-time albums, yet I don't have a taste for one of its songs. That's OK.

I've seen this album pop up on "worst albums of all time" lists, which are silly to begin because the truly worst albums ever recorded are, I would imagine, the ones that are so bad that nobody ever hears them. If that isn't the case, anyway, that would be strange and backward.

Instead of it being a lousy album with a few redeeming moments, I consider Goodbye Cruel World a pretty good one with a few forgettable moments. I think that's an important distinction.

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Re: "Goodbye Cruel World" Redux

Postby docinwestchester » Mon Jan 16, 2012 7:32 pm

redsfan720 wrote: I consider Armed Forces to be one of my favorite all-time albums, yet I don't have a taste for one of its songs. That's OK.


Let me guess...Goon Squad?

Seeing EC solo in April 1984 gave me a pretty good appreciation for the songs on GCW. I enjoy listening to it, warts and all, to this day.


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