In the little over four years since Elvis Costello exploded on the popular rock scene he has been recognized as one of today's most important songwriters. Still in his early 20s Costello has produced four classic albums and has scored a dozen or so British hits.
Costello is probably one of the most creative and productive songwriters around. He's hyper-creative and has written enough material since the release of Get Happy to fill two more 20 song lp's.
Now Elvis Costello is Taking Liberties. His fifth album, Taking Liberties is a compilation of 20 songs that appeared on the "B" side of single, lp's, maxi-singles, were British album cuts or were previously unreleased gems that Columbia records never managed to package for domestic release.
Devoted Elvis Costello fans find it hard to get enough of his glib plays on words, double meanings, political references and intense, lean arrangements. Taking Liberties is a virtual smorgasbord for the Costello fans insatiable musical appetite. There are 20 succulent tunes, written in almost as many musical styles, to dig your musical teeth into.
Taking Liberties includes two classics, "Girls Talk," which was included on Linda "The Voice" Ronstadt's Mad Love album and the political "(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea." "Chelsea" is probably the best known of the songs that weren't released in the U.S. and features one of Costello's tastier moments on the electric guitar.
The rest of the album is a tour through the extraordinarily diverse talents of Elvis Costello.
"Clean Money," a previously unreleased rocker, features Dave Edmunds on back-up vocals, to open side one. Then a few songs later we find Elvis crooning a sophisticated country-style jukebox ballad, complete with steel guitar on "Radio Sweetheart" and "Stranger In the House."
On side two Elvis finds himself in Motown, emulating his R&B influences with the swinging "Getting Mighty Crowded."
Two of Elvis' finer moments are found on side two in the form of "Hoover Factory" (which contains some of his best lyrical images) and the emotionally intense "Tiny Steps." Interestingly, he even includes some classic 60s pop in the form of the Rogers and Hart classic, "My Funny Valentine." Trivia fanatics: please note that Elvis also covered a Burt Bacharach tune "I Don't Know What To Do With Myself" on the Five Live Stiffs sampler.
There is only one slightly disturbing thing about Taking Liberties; the title. It's uncertain whether Taking Liberties refers to Columbia's repackaging of this material for domestic release or whether Elvis is taking a much deserved break from recording.
Remember shoppers, there are only 47 more shopping days until Christmas. Taking Liberties could be just the thing for the punks on your Christmas list. It is also highly recommended for personal consumption.