James Madison University Breeze, April 17, 1986

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King Of America

The Costello Show featuring Elvis Costello

Charles Lundy

For his 11th album in 10 years, songwriting genius Elvis Costello has changed his name back to Declan MacManus, set aside his band, The Attractions, on 14 of the 15 songs and toned down his sound. But King of America still measures up to the high standards Costello has set for himself.

Produced by country rocker T-Bone Burnette, the music features acoustic and steel guitars, fewer keyboards and no synthesizers. It recalls Costello's 1981 straight country experiment Almost Blue but is more a synthesis of country and Costello's unique singing and songwriting.

The lyrics contain the usual flair and complexity that show why the prolific Costello (MacManus?) never runs out of song ideas. Lines like "I was a fine idea at the time / now I'm a brilliant mistake" on "Brilliant Mistake" and the mournful self-pitying single "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" support Costello's declaration in a recent Rolling Stone interview that he no longer cares about being a pop star.

If so, then King of America is perhaps Costello's way of trashing the Top-40 quest that marked Punch the Clock and Goodbye Cruel World, his last two albums. The former received only moderate radio airplay, but both were panned by critics. The result is that King of America, and perhaps his next few albums, will please Costello's cult followers without attracting new converts.


The Breeze, April 17, 1986

Charles Lundy reviews King Of America.


1986-04-17 James Madison University Breeze page 15 clipping 01.jpg

1986-04-17 James Madison University Breeze page 15.jpg
Page scan.


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