The best rock collection of recent times has to be Elvis Costello's Girls Girls Girls, the modestly priced and superbly annotated (by Costello) two-disc set with 47 tracks overviewing his Columbia years.
From "Alison" through "Tokyo Storm Warning," Costello created the most consistently engaging rock music during the 11 years in question (1976-1986). In terms of the sheer number of quality songs, no one else came close. In the Attractions, Costello benefitted from tight, imaginative and unflagging musical support. Costello's voice has always had its detractors. Not in this corner.
Girls Girls Girls contains a few hits, no misses. It dispenses with the typical chronological order of such projects for Costello's inspired sequencing. He runs "Man Called Uncle," "Party Girl" and "Shabby Doll" back to back, for example, shedding different light on each. He also provides brief, written comments on each song, combining wit, insight and interesting background. One journalist's favorite line remarks on a favorite song, "Lipstick Vogue," which contains the timeless bit of venom "Sometimes I think that love is just a tumor you've got to cut it out." Costello now says, "I stand by every word." This is as good as it gets. Get it.