This isn't really the newest record from rock's most prolific songwriter: instead it is a compilation of 20 tracks that have never appeared on a Costello album. Over the length of his three-year career Elvis has left behind an astonishing amount of good material despite the breakneck recording pace he follows.
Some of the best songs have already been covered. Linda Ronstadt and Dave Edmunds both did "Girls Talk" and Ronstadt included "Talking In The Dark" on her last album. Both George Jones and Rachel Sweet have recorded the psycho-western, "Stranger In The House." Carlene Carter had a moderate hit with "Radio Sweetheart."
Two songs from Costello's previous album, "Black And White World" and "Clowntime is Over" are presented in strikingly different versions with entirely clear lyrics. Elvis even covers Van "The Hustle" McCoy's "Getting Mighty Crowded" and the Rodgers and Hart classic, "My Funny Valentine."
There are celestial guitars on the magnificent "Hoover Factory," dynamite drumming on "(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea," an infectious chorus in "Just A Memory," and very little waste. A couple of tracks include John McFee, now of the Doobie Brothers, on pedal steel, and drummer Mickey Shine, now with Tommy Tutone.
Few artists see an album of this nature surface during their lifetime; and then usually after a prolonged absence from the studio. It is fortunate that Columbia decided to release this collection of oddities. Now if only someone can explain the meaning of "Tiny Steps." A fascinating album.