Boston Phoenix, March 18, 1986

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King Of America


Boston Phoenix

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His finest work since Imperial Bedroom (or maybe Get Happy!!), this forlorn. guilt-ridden record mingles the allure Of America with the temptation of fame, and it yearns for the possibility of being heard clearly in a career that has slipped away from Costello. "They pulled him out of the cold, cold ground / And they put him in a suit of lights," goes the pivotal track on the record, Producer T-Bone Burnett provides full-bodied yet spare support from a cast of players who center on rock's sources in C & W, blues, and jazz; anchored by a spooky cover of the Animals' "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," the album catches a marriage breaking up ("Indoor Fireworks"), England choking to a halt ("Little Palaces"), and a host of American dreams gone haywire ("American Without Tears," "Eisenhower Blues," "Brilliant Mistake"). Although too long and scattered, King of America gives its pervasive self-pity and drunken buffoonery a perverse eloquence. Clowntime is over.

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Boston Phoenix, March 18, 1986


Includes a capsule review of King Of America.


A reader nitpicks Joyce Millman's March 4th KOA review.

Images

1986-03-18 Boston Phoenix page 35 clipping 01.jpg
Clipping.


Burying Elvis


Boston Phoenix letters page

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To Joyce Millman:

How is it exactly, as you state so unequivocally in your Elvis Costello piece (Arts, March 4), that Costello's "Elvis is king" proclamation seemed "like a brash and scrappy dance on Elvis Presley's still warm grave," when in fact Mr. Presley had a few months to go on this planet when My Aim Is True was released? The point being, the Elvis campaign was intended as a gibe, a poke, not an "unceremonious burial." The name Elvis Costello was the choice of Stiff Records; and Declan MacManus went along for the ride. Regrets? He's had a few.

How about you, Joyce?

Oh, and he didn't revert to Declan Patrick Aloysius MacManus. He was born without "Aloysius" — added it later.

— Dawn Larson, Brighton


Joyce Millman replies:

No regrets. By the time My Aim Is True hit Billboard's album charts, Elvis Presley was well and truly dead; what I said was that the "Elvis is king" legend seemed a certain way, not that it was intended a certain way. I'll stand by that observation. I'll also stand by my report that "Aloysius" is part of the album's credits, which is all I did report. When the point is how many times MacManus has changed his name, who cares whether he's changed it another time?



1986-03-18 Boston Phoenix page 35.jpg
Page scan.

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