When Britain's Elvis Costello first appeared on the American music scene in 1977. the majority of the rock-listening public didn't exactly place the abrasive Buddy Holly look-alike too close to their hearts or their turntables. At a time when mainstream hands the likes of Foreigner and Styx ruled the charts, those artists of the New Wave (you referred to them as "Punks," remember?) were barely given the time of day.
During the past three years. the music world has undergone considerable changes. And one thing is now certain — Elvis II is here to stay. For not only has rock's angry young man churned out many of the most biting, unavoidably catchy tunes in recent memory, he's done it at a pace that few artists have ever achieved; with the release of Taking Liberties, a twenty-song disc comprised of outtakes previously unavailable on lp in this country, Elvis has now tossed in our direction nearly eighty songs in a mere three annums — quite amazing when you consider it.
Plain and simple, Taking Liberties is an excellent album. Its selections are extremely diverse, ranging from the boppin' r'n'b of Van McCoy's "Getting Mighty Crowded" (if your feet aren't moving, they're stuck in cement) to the countrywestern flavor (Conway Costello?) of "Stranger in the House" to the gentleness (?) of Rogers and Hart's "My Funny Valentine."
A Costello disc containing all new material should be released in January. Until then, I guess we'll have to settle for last year's model — but an Edsel it ain't.