Though this latest Costello album is primarily for the American market and not available as a local release, enthusiasts like myself would have snapped it up from the import shop to see what he was treating his fans from the land of Liberty to.
And with again 20 cuts, we would not have been bothered by the inclusion of several British and Australian album tracks, diffcrcnt treatment of other previously released songs, or B-sides of other singles. There's still hunks of meat in this sandwich.
Taking Liberties was originally to be titled "Crawling to the USA," after one of the songs, which a Rolling Stone reviewer recently understood to mean Costello's "scathing equation of foreign aid and whoredom," but which I think has the usual Costello double edged invective, also relating to his and others' commercial motive toward the LP-oriented US market.
But it's usually the music, not the politics, that counts. My faith in Costello was not lost: in fact it is strengthened by a number of tunes on this album.
Costello has just about covered every style of music that shaped the popular rock-music culture, and where people at first thought he was new-wave (having arrived on it) and a power-pop maestro, he has shown he can craft a tune with sometimes more than a singular influence in it and indeed has a song for every occasion.
"Clean Money" opens the album, and it's only when you recognise the lyrics that you realise it's another draft of Get Happy's "Love for Tender," but an entirely new and attractive rocker. Van McCoy's "Getting Mighty Crowded" has that lively Stax feel about it and his singing of it does it justice. Richard Rodgers' and Lorenz Hart's "My Funny Valentine" doesn't do much for me: I prefer the job he did on Burt Baccarach's "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself." "Radio Sweetheart" is another attempt at a country-and-western style and is quite catchy.
Yes, there's a lot of nourishment. Other tunes which give the album value is the emotional "Big Tears," "Hoover Factory," containing an immediately appealing chorus, "Tiny Steps," "Dr Luther's Assistant," "Wednesday Week," which rushes along, "Ghost Train" and "Talking In The Dark."
Together with "(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea," "Night Rally" and "Sunday's Best," which all appeared on previous albums, we have a good rummage record. We know Costello's B sides are just as good as the As.
His next album for release here is due soon and you can expect it to contain the usual handful of gems.