Even though Punch the Clock has been out since August, it still deserves a look and a listen. Elvis Costello, composer of many different styles of songs, has continued this tradition on his latest effort. He has moved from his angry image on the earlier albums through country on Almost Blue to a mix on his latest release, Imperial Bedroom. He continues with a variety of styles on his latest, Punch the Clock, but every song is distinctively Elvis.
For instance, on "T.K.O.," the use of horns reminds one of a soul song or Motown. However, on "The Greatest Thing," the horns bring about an R and B, Little Feat-type sound. Furthermore, there is a Kinks touch on "The Invisible Man."
Punch the Clock moves away from the angry sound of Elvis' earlier works by using a wider variety of in instruments, like strings, horns and keyboards, and improving the vocal quality by harmonizing. Also, producers Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley seem to have greatly reduced the raspy tone to Elvis voice.
But as in all of his albums, the lyrics on Punch the Clock are strong and produce vivid images of the subject For example, on "Pills and Soap," Elvis paints a very grim emotional picture of Britain's war in the Falklands, and of war in general.
"They talked to the sister, the father and the mother, With a microphone in one hand and a cheque book in the other. AND THE CAMERA NOSES IN TO THE TEARS ON HER FACE. You can put them back together with your paper and your paste. But you can't put them back together."
As always, Elvis holds back no punches. A natural progression from Imperial Bedroom, Punch the Clock is a strong effort Though maybe not Elvis best, it may become his most successful album since Armed Fortress due to the fact that "Everyday I Write The Book" is quickly getting a lot of Top 40 airplay.
Worth a listen: "Everyday I Write The Book," "Let Them All Talk," "T.K.O.," "Pills and Soap," and "Charm School."