Cincinnati Enquirer, February 11, 1989

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Elvis lives! (Er, that's Costello)

Elvis Costello / Spike

Cliff Radel

Elvis lives! No, not the fat one. The skinny one.

Back from oblivion with his first album in three years, Elvis Costello is ready to resume his role as the world's oldest angry young man.

To many critics, this pint-sized Elvis is a darling. To this critic, he's an angst-ridden Englishman with a goofy stage name — he was born Declan Patrick MacManus — and a glass jaw. Costello once lost a one-round barroom brawl with Bonnie Bramlett after he took Ray Charles' name in vain.

Knowing Costello's track record, reporting that Spike tries to strike a nerve will come as no surprise. What is surprising is the way Costello does it.

With Spike, he attempts and fails to hide his anger behind the happy sounds of Paul McCartney (his bass playing and songwriting skills give "Veronica" some Beatlesque touches), the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Davy Spillane's Uileann pipes.

Strip away these tuneful contributions, however, and you have another helping of vitriol a la Costello. He rants. He raves. He contradicts himself. He hates capital punishment — "Let Him Dangle" but he wants to hang Margaret Thatcher — "Tramp The Dirt Down." As he whines, he plays the poet with lines like: "A butterfly drinks a turtle's tears, but how do you know he really needs it?" Oh, Elvis. Dry up.

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Cincinnati Enquirer, February 11, 1989


Cliff Radel reviews Spike.

Images

1989-02-11 Cincinnati Enquirer page D-1.jpg
Page scan.

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