What's it say about the music industry when the only two decent record's in a weekend's worth or immersion listening come from veterans with almost 30 years in the business between them?
Beats me. Maybe that's why Joni Mitchell and Elvis Costello are still with us after all these years. In a game where everybody gets to be famous for 15 seconds, these two have been around long enough to prove that quality still counts for something, even in rock 'n' roll.
I'll keep the Costello review short and sort of to the point because The Best Of Elvis Costello & The Attractions (Columbia) is a greatest hits package, and because there's a brand new Costello LP produced by T-Bone Burnett due for release in early January.
Suffice to say there's 16 songs and almost an hour's worth of listening involvement on this LP, which gathers together eight years' work from the prolific and singularly gifted British composer. Some of the essentials are here, from the early "Watching The Detectives," "Pump It Up," and "Accidents Will Happen," through the woefully underrated Almost Blue country LP and into "Shipbuilding" and his most recent stuff.
A forceful argument could be made for one or more greatest hit packages that would include none of the Costello material gathered here. Such is the man's strength. But for those only now stumbling upon his music, for those too lazy to compile their own tapes, or for those happy enough just to have "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding" on another bit of vinyl, this set will do just fine, thank you.