Harp, November 2004

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Harp

Magazines
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The Delivery Man

Elvis Costello

Jeffrey Morgan

Delivering the goods Costello-style

As anyone who doesn't know me will tell you, I don't impress easily. But this — this is one hell of a raucous rock 'n' roll record that relentlessly wanders all over the stylistic map from gospel to country to yeah, yeah, I know. If someone laid a rap like that on me I wouldn't believe it either 'cause until recently I thought old Elvo was washed up. Old news. Yesterday's papers. Lay down and die, goodbye. So if you haven't been paying much attention to him over the past few decades since the guts 'n' glory days of Armed Forces, this is as good a time as any to once again scrape your knees at the altar of greatness because not only does Elvo's current output outstrip, outclass and outshame guys half his age — he just turned 50 in case you're keeping score at home — it also makes a big chunk of his own back catalogue sound more like ambient New Age than angry New Wave.

All of which means that you can ditch any notions about marriage smoothing out his barbed edges because The Delivery Man makes the caustically corrosive When I Was Cruel sound like his love-laded wedding belle paen North. "Button My Lip" is a Miles Davis-arranged cross between Mike Garson's jazz-mental piano solo in "Aladdin Sane" and the sharp vinegar edge of Eno's "Needles In The Camel's Eye." And that's just the first track. By the time you get to demented ravers like "Bedlam" with its funky A Rainbow In Curved Air organ solo and lyrics like "I laid down on a iron frame and found myself in bedlam," you begin to realize that Elvo is arguably the greatest lyricist writing songs in America today. Oh, and did I mention that his singing voice is actually better today that it was back in the '70's?

Yeah, yeah, I know. He had me fooled too.

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Harp, November / December 2004


Jeffrey Morgan reviews The Delivery Man.

Images

2004-11-00 Harp cover.jpg
Cover.

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