University of Alberta Gateway, November 30, 1993

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2½ Years

Elvis Costello

Justin Rice

Elvis lives! Now I’m not talking about the drug-addict pedophile, or that taco inhaling fat bastard in Dread Zeppelin, or the weird guy with the sideburns working in the 7-11 in Londonderry. No sir. I’m talking about the real thing, the self-proclaimed King of America, Mr. Costello himself listening to Elvis takes me back to the summers of my youth spent in Liverpool,my uncle playing Get Happy and my grampa yelling at him to "turn that frigging shite off" while it rained for the fourth day in a row (the only thing more miserable than an English summer is an English fall, winter or spring). I didn’t think much of him then, probably because my uncle would often talk about Elvis and Earth, Wind and Fire in the same sentence (go figure).

I rediscovered him in grade 10. while most of my friends were listening to Def Leppard and the Cult (ah, the good old days) Elvis spoke to me like few other singers (except maybe for that whiny bastard Morrisey) and had an answer for most of my problems, especially those with girls. I still play "No Action" everytime I break up with a girl (when I get dumped would be closer to the truth). I don’t wanna kiss you, I don't wanna touch. I don't wanna see you cuz I don’t miss you that much. Ya, I’m better off without you anyway. Elvis was full of more teenage angst than I was.

2½ Years is a box set containing Costello’s best three albums (probably his best except for King of America, Blood and Chocolate, Spike, Get Happy...) and a previously unreleased live album recorded at his legendary first Canadian show at the El Mo in 1978. Each album has been digitally remastered and contains various b-sides and previously unreleased outtakes.

My Aim Is True is brilliant, one of the best albums to emerge out of the British Punk scene in 1977, Looking like Buddy Holly on acid, Elvis wrote short, literate, bitter rock and roll songs about relationships, revenge and guilt. "Mystery Dance" is one of the best songs about sex that I’ve ever heard, and "Alison" is still one of my favourite Costello tunes. The added tracks are great — more jaded cynicism and acoustic guitar.

This Years Model is probably the quintessential Costello album. Full of serrated classics like "Radio Radio," "No Action," "Pump It Up" and "Lip Service," it is a masterpiece of modern music. Elvis was an angry guy with a lot to say and the music on this album aurally assaults you with its dense, organ-driven sound and unbridled energy. More songs about jealousy, possessiveness and the other bad points of relationships. Great additions include "(I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea" and "Night Rally," which were not released on the original American pressing.

Armed Forces is probably the weakest of the three, but it is great in its own way. Costello has matured, and the addition of the Attractions really lightens and polishes his sound. Songs like "Oliver's Army" and "(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding" still sound fresh today, 15 years after they were originally recorded.

2½ Years is definitely Elvis at his skinny leather tie and spastic guitar playing best. Not since Europe (The Final Countdown ring a bell’) have keyboards sounded so good. If you’re a fan, buy the set. If not, take a chance and buy one of the albums (This Year’s Model is your best bet). Dave will walk naked through SUB if you don’t like It. LONG LIVE THE KING.

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The Gateway, November 30, 1993


Justin Rice reviews 2½ Years.

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1993-11-30 University of Alberta Gateway page 12 clipping 01.jpg
Clipping.

1993-11-30 University of Alberta Gateway page 12.jpg
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