Lunar Boulevard, April 13, 2010

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Lunar Boulevard

Blogs

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Almost Blue

Elvis Costello

Lunar Boulevard

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After releasing the brilliant Trust in 1981 Elvis Costello wasted no time in releasing a second album that same year. Costello had made it clear through his work that he was no stranger to experimentation and reinvention but few could have seen this album coming: a cover album of classic country tunes. It was a gutsy move that, despite the mixed results, gave us another side of Elvis Costello that would manifest itself on many future recordings. Costello had toyed with country sounds on previous records, especially on My Aim Is True, but this album found him taking it on full-force.

All 12 cuts on this album are covers and, although done well, they're not as interesting as his original material. Still, there are some fine performances from EC and the Attractions. There are some energetic numbers like "Why Don't You Love Me (Like You Used to Do)?," "Honey Hush" and "Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down." These are a lot of fun but some of the slower tracks work too, especially "Success," "Sweet Dreams" and "How Much I Lied." However, the real standout here is his fantastic and delicate cover of Jerry Chestnut's "Good Year for the Roses," first made famous by George Jones. Costello's cover is incredible and after seeing him perform it live a few years ago I've grown to love it even more. If there's one reason you should buy this album it's purely for that track alone. The others are well done but that song is easily the highlight.

There's really not too much to add because since these songs are covers there are no lyrics or classic Costello melodies to delve into. In some ways that's the records biggest flaw: it's Elvis but without a lot of the charm and sophistication that accompanies his other albums. Almost Blue is by no means a bad record; in fact, for people who aren't fans of country (like me) this is a great place to start. It's old-school but never in-your-face or obnoxious. The performances are tight and it's evident that Costello not only knows more about country music than many of today's country artists but he respects it and loves its storytelling and melancholy themes. It's just Elvis having fun covering some of his favorite country songs; no more and no less. It's not a place for the newcomer or casual fan to start but if you're in the mood for a different side of Elvis then it's worth hearing every now and then. 1981 may have been a busy year for him but 1982 would come to provide one of his finest masterpieces.


Tags: TrustMy Aim Is TrueThe AttractionsWhy Don't You Love Me (Like You Used To Do)?Honey HushTonight The Bottle Let Me DownSuccessSweet DreamsHow Much I LiedJerry ChesnutGood Year For The RosesGeorge Jones

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Lunar Boulevard, April 13, 2010


Lunar Boulevard reviews Almost Blue.

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Almost Blue (1981)

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