There are twenty songs on this album! Yes, twenty!! Elvis Costello decided to be a nice guy (hard to believe if you know much about Elvis) and put ten songs on each side. There is even a note on the back from producer Nick Lowe explaining why.
Because there are so many songs on this disc, they jumble together on the first few listens. (Then again, Elvis Costello is never easy to listen to at first. He seems to be more of an acquired taste.)
By about the third listen, though, one realizes that this is an outstanding, possibly classic, album. It does not have the slightly irritating qualities of his last album, Armed Forces. It has more of an easy-listening, upbeat flavor than any of his previous albums.
Elvis is a definite talent, although many argue he doesn't have a very good voice. He does sing with more feeling on this album, and even abandons the patented "Elvis Costello Voice" to sing quite conventionally on the song "Opportunity." Few have ever doubted that Costello is a gifted songwriter, and his talent shines continuously through this effort.
Five songs stand out: 1. "High Fidelity," 2. "Five Gears in Reverse," 3. "Riot Act," 4. "B Movie," and 5. "Beaten to the Punch."
Elvis seems to have a more positive attitude toward life and his role in music these days. In the song, "Clowntime is Over," he sings "Clowntime is over, time to take over." With this album, he just might.