Bridgewater Courier-News, September 20, 1980

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Set of hard-to-find Costello
disproves one-dimensional image


Sal Caputo

Elvis Costello / Taking Liberties

This disc is an instant collectible. Like Costello 's last album, Get Happy, this record features 20 cuts. Unlike Get Happy, his fifth American album is a collection of Costello songs previously unavailable on albums released here.

Except for unnecessary and weaker unreleased versions of "Black and White World" and "Clowntime is Over," which were featured on Get Happy, the album is free of filler, showing how prolific Costello has been in his relatively short career. (And even these two songs, essentially more laid-back than the Get Happy versions, give an insight into the process of his songwriting.)

Most people probably view Costello as a one-dimensional figure, essentially a grating voice in front of a punkish ensemble. But the songs here show him as one of the most versatile songwriters and rock performers.

He does an eerily creditable job of interpreting Rodgers and Hart's "My Funny Valentine," managing to bring a song that has virtually no connection with rock 'n' roll fully under the command of his tough ethos.

He gets in a stunning rhythm and blues performance on the late Van McCoy's (remember "The Hustle"? ) "Getting Mighty Crowded."

And for those who think that Costello's just a ball of pent-up angry energy, the country sounds of "Stranger in the House" will probably come as a shock.

The neo-psychedelic "Hoover Factory" is awfully reminiscent of the Good-Vibrations-era Beach Boys and Strawberry-Fields-era Beatles. Odd ground for a punk to tread, eh?

Yet, for all its diversity, the album hangs together as a whole. The placement of the songs makes them logically flow one into the other. Costello's melodies are consistently catchy.

Another element that makes his work hang together is the way lyric motifs and ideas find their way into number of songs. In "Clean Money," he repeats the line "she won't take my love for tender," working further explorations of the ideas in "Love for Tender" from Get Happy. (Of course, "Clean Money" may have been recorded before "Love for Tender" and may have served as the blueprint for that song. But either way the connection is interesting.)

The chance to get all these Costello tunes especially the marvelously cynical "Girls Talk" and the uncharacteristically sentimental "Talking In the Dark," without having to search through specialty record shops is certainly a plus.

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The Courier-News, August 21, 1982


Sal Caputo reviews Taking Liberties.

Images

1980-09-20 Bridgewater Courier-News page B-7.jpg
Page scan.

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