It's been about a year and a half since Elvis Costello's last studio album, so this release will serve to tide over longtime Costello fans who are waiting for his first release on the Warner Brothers' label (after last year breaking a long relationship with Columbia.)
Out of Our Idiot, like 1980's Taking Liberties, is a collection of outtakes, B-sides, demos and non-album singles, most of which have been released in England over the past few years.
This record is more consistent and rewarding than Liberties because Costello is a more accomplished musician and almost all of the songs are rewarding in their own right (Taking Liberties had some dubious moments).
Among the immediate highlights: duets with Jimmy Cliff ("Seven-Day Weekend"), T-Bone Burnett ("The People's Limousine") and Nick Lowe ("Baby, It's You").
Most effective of all is "So Young," the one song that had yet to be released anywhere. Recorded in May 1979, it highlights Costello's half-whispered, Trust-era vocals over the keyboard-dominated start-and-stop rhythms of his band the Attractions. Lowe's production on the number is flawless.
The different songs from the different periods (1979-1987) don't hang together particularly well, but it's good to get them all in one place. While the uninitiated should make The Best Of... their first Costello purchase, this is an indispensable record for those who are already admirers, and can only increase anticipation for his pending studio release.