South China Morning Post, May 22, 2005

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FROM THE VAULT: 1986

Elvis Costello
King of America
[Rhino]

Alister McMillan

By 1986, Declan McManus had tired of the new name in his passport, Elvis Costello, and the ambitions he once held for the persona. The poor response to his 1984 album, Goodbye Cruel World, confirmed that the stadiums many envisaged him filling would be left to Billy Joel.

Costello's band was close to folding, his marriage already had, and he was forced to make three solo tours to pay legal bills. On the road, he jammed in hotels with musicians of different persuasions, including Lucinda Williams and Kris Kristofferson. Sharing ideas was rare among British musicians, he writes in the new edition King of America. The Costello we know today - a restless, multifarious talent who drifts naturally into different styles while peers such as Bowie, Prince and U2 desperately grab new sounds and gimmicks - was fully realised on King of America. The horn-rimmed geek of previous albums covers was gone, replaced by a bearded, scornful 31-year- old who ironically proclaimed the decline of his pop career by wearing a replica of the English monarch's crown.

The songs are credited to Declan Patrick Aloysius MacManus and played by the finest hired hands: Jim Keltner, Mitchell Froom, Tom 'T-Bone' Wolk, Ron Tutt, Jerry Scheff and James Burton from Elvis Presley's TCB band. The reissue has a 21-track bonus CD, including seven tastes of the band live.

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South China Morning Post, May 22, 2005


Alister McMillan reviews King Of America (Rhino Deluxe Edition).


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