New Zealand Herald, December 26, 2002

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Cruel Smile

Elvis Costello

Graham Reid


With his extensive reissue programme (all his albums being re-released with bonus tracks) and innumerable side projects, Costello makes life hard for completists. This is an uneven but reasonably rewarding collection of B-sides, live tracks and out-takes of material from his gutsy When I Was Cruel album of earlier last year.

Scattered around are a hushed, harmonica-embellished "Almost Blue" (followed by a raging, horn-punched "15 Petals," both recorded in Sydney); a live "Watching the Detectives" which segues into a probably heretical treatment of "My Funny Valentine," a brittle "Dust," live in Melbourne, followed by an equally abrasive "Uncomplicated," and an unembellished "Spooky Girlfriend" from a radio show. Stick around for the hidden bonus track on this enhanced CD. The gems are the trip-hop influenced, dub-rock of "The Imposter v the Floodtide," and two treatments of Charlie Chaplin's standard "Smile" here in a string-soaked version and a lush, piano take showcasing long-time sideman Steve Nieve.


New Zealand Herald, December 26, 2002

Graham Reid reviews Cruel Smile.


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