Penn State Daily Collegian, February 28, 2002
Costello reissues will satisfy 'geeks'
He's recorded some of the most critically acclaimed albums in history. The punk and new wave movements wouldn't have happened without him. So it's probably not an overstatement to call Elvis Costello one of the most important rock musicians of all time.
And despite all of this, a lot of people are up in arms over the reissue of Costello's catalog.
The complaints aren't because of Costello's worth as an artist. Half of his catalog was reissued less than a decade ago, in 1993. Brutal Youth, one of the new reissues, was first released in 1994 and original copies still sit in cutout bins.
So are the reissues really necessary?
Well, yeah. This isn't the Beatles' pointless 1 compilation.
No, no, that wasn't a rip on the Beatles. The point is that if an album is going to be reissued, the new version has to come fully loaded. It has to have lots of B-sides. It has to have great liner notes.
It has to satisfy the geeks.
And the new wave of Costello reissues — 1978's This Year's Model, 1986's Blood & Chocolate, and Brutal Youth — will definitely leave every collector nerd drooling.
Want B-sides? Each reissue's got them. In fact, each reissue comes with a full CD's worth of additional music. Whereas the 1993 reissues just tacked some bonus tracks onto the end of the album, each new reissue comes with an extra disc of Costello's material, at no additional cost.
If Rhino, the record company handling the new releases, had raised the list price, fans would have had a right to be angry. But $15 for a fantastic remastering job and as many as 15 bonus tracks is a pretty sweet deal.
That's right, the discs sound incredible after the new mastering job. They're louder and punchier and have a much fuller sound. Blood & Chocolate used to sound like ... well ... it sounded like a release from 1986. Now it sounds as good as any of the works by Costello's contemporaries today.
Brutal Youth? Well, this version's not going to end up on used CD shelves like the original. Brutal Youth's loudest stuff, songs like "20% Amnesia" and the chilling "Kinder Murder," finally sounds the way it was probably supposed to in 1994. Brutal Youth's producers turned a collection of fine rock songs into elaborate, overdone numbers, but the remastering by Rhino brings the guitars to the forefront.
And This Year's Model gets the best treatment of all. The keyboard-laden album sounds more chaotic than ever before, and its extensive liner notes, penned by Costello, give a wildly entertaining peek into the songwriter's mind with surprising insight into the recording process and hilarious jokes about touring rural America.
If you don't own the previous versions of these Costello releases, there's absolutely no excuse for passing on them this time around. And even if you do, the new versions are far superior to the originals. Costello is, without question, one of rock's greatest contributors, and the newest issues of his material finally live up to Costello and his amazing career.
The Daily Collegian, February 28, 2002
Justin Stranzl previews the Rhino reissues.