During this past summer, I had listened to a cassette my friend owned: The Best of Spike Jones. This album was a collection of risque songs accentuated by various sound effects and percussion instruments and its comedy was audacious for its pre-rock 'n' roll audience.
Spike Jones, "Our Beloved Entertainer", recently returned as the title of Elvis Costello's latest release. Spike, like Costello's first album, My Aim Is True, is a of potpourri of musical styles and featuring a long list of rock illuminaries: Roger McGuinn (The Byrds), Paul McCartney (you know what band he was in!), Jim Keltner (The Traveling Wilburys), Benmont Tench (The Heartbreakers), and Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel). Costello has presented a brilliant album.
The 13-song set begins with "This Town" which in the footsteps of Jones is humorous. In the first stanza, Costello sings, "the song had a topical verse which I'm afraid he started to sing."
"This Town" is washed with a small stream of keyboards and rings yet clear guitars.
A single and video were created from "Veronica," a song co-written by McCartney: and about Costello's grandmother The beautiful, gentle melody tell the story of a woman's sharp wit and intellect trampled by either illness or a lost love. This is one of the most stirring singles of early 1989.
"God's Comic" resembles two other Costello works, "Almost Blue" and "Watch Your Step" since all three contain jazz chord progressions and inflections. This soliloquy by a dead jester has a greater amount of instruments and is more deftly produced.
Lastly, "Any King's Shilling" joins classical and country music together. Guitars. harp, and violin comment on the obtuse lyrics to form a truly mysterious work.
Spike produced by Costello and blues session man T-Bone Burnett was recorded on modern facilities at studios such as Windmill Lane (where U2 record) and Air (where the Police recorded). Unlike the sparse production of friend Nick ("Cruel to Be Kind") Lowe, Spike is filled with sharp, clean-sounding instruments. Costello has proved his muse has not abandoned him and his lyrical venom is still toxic.