Villanova University Villanovan, November 2, 1990

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Elvis Costello preserves his integrity

Elvis Costello / Girls Girls Girls

Aaron Nicodemus

★★★

Elvis Costello is one of the most talented, yet underrated artists in music today. With his new Girls Girls Girls collection, Costello presents more than 50 of his personal favorites from his years with the Attractions. He mixes poignant ballads with blisteringly sarcastic attacks on the music industry and politics. By never once prostituting his sound on the pop market to make the fast buck, Costello has managed to preserve his integrity and his relative obscurity.

Girls Girls Girls traces Costello's career from the basement and back streets of London through his frenzied touring days. Some songs tell a story in themselves, and some need a little explaining. The album jacket includes the artist's thoughts about each song, including the situations surrounding them, the behind-the-scenes angle, or just what they mean to him. His memoirs are filled with emotion, recounting in bits and pieces his life in music.

A few of these notes describe some unusual situations, like writing songs in a daydream between London streets ("Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes"), or after 36 straight hours of drinking ("I Hope You're Happy Now"). In "Sleep of the Just," Costello gets revenge on a policeman who harassed him on the subway by making him the villain of the song and giving him a sister who dances topless.

Only a few of these songs are recognizable to the casual Costello fan, such as "Watching the Detectives" and the popular "Alison." Many experiment with different styles or are rough and unpolished studio versions. This is not to say that the album is unprofessional; his neat pop hits are excluded in favor of the more important and meaningful tunes in his career.

Girls Girls Girls allows Costello to tell the story of his musical career in song, uncompromised and unedited. In a music world that caters to trend and fashion, Costello disregards worldwide fame. He is a true musician who explores and performs all types of music without fancy editing — he just plays what he feels. As he sings in "Alison:" "I know this world is killing you / Oh Alison, my aim is true." Girls Girls Girls artfully and honestly details 10 years of Elvis Costello and the Attractions, and it does it with style.

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The Villanovan, November 2, 1990


Aaron Nicodemus reviews Girls Girls Girls.

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1990-11-02 Villanova University Villanovan page 28 clipping 01.jpg
Clipping.

1990-11-02 Villanova University Villanovan page 28.jpg
Page scan.

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