The “Deep Cuts” series digs into an artist’s catalog and pulls out gems that might be unfamiliar to casual fans. After all, the best songs are often found deep on side two or on the back of a 45…

Deep Cuts: Elvis Costello

The Analog Kid blog has been up and running for almost three months now, and yesterday I realized that I have yet to feature even a single song from Elvis Costello. That seems really odd, especially since a search of my iTunes music folder for ‘Elvis Costello’ returns 1,259 songs. I like Elvis.

The first Elvis Costello record I purchased was Spike, his first album after leaving Columbia for Warner Brothers in 1989. I adored “Veronica,” and was a bit put off by the fact that the rest of the album wasn’t nearly as catchy. The same thing happened with “The Other Side Of Summer” in 1991– I loved the single, but most of Mighty Like A Rose just didn’t do much for me. It wasn’t until Rykodisc started reissuing Elvis’ Columbia catalog in 1993 that I began to understand.

The geniuses at Rykodisc released the albums in order, putting out two or three at a time a few months apart. I bought each album upon release, and was able to cram ten years of Costello into twelve glorious months. I shared a house with my friend Dave at the time, a wonderful drummer who dabbled a bit on the guitar. We spent hours learning to play Elvis songs that year, and I can pinpoint that moment as the time that I finally (kinda sorta) learned to sing. Elvis was now a God to me, and has remained one of my most-treasured deities to this day.

Imperial Bedroom

Elvis Costello & The Attractions: “The Loved Ones” (Costello)

From the album Imperial Bedroom

Columbia Records, 1982

Imperial Bedroom was hailed as a “masterpiece” by Columbia Records upon its release, but I think that may be pushing it a bit. It’s a very good record and contains some fabulous songs, but it’s hardly Elvis’ best album. I suppose any record that contains a song as catchy as “The Loved Ones” must be pretty damn good, though. How was this song not released as a single?

Trust [Rykodisc]

Elvis Costello & The Attractions: “Strict Time” (Costello)

From the album Trust

Columbia Records, 1981

Trust just might be my favorite Elvis record with the Attractions, and “Strict Time” really shows off the power of one of the best backing bands in rock history.

King Of America

The Costello Show: “Indoor Fireworks” (Costello)

From the album King Of America

Columbia Records, 1986

In the late ’90s, Elvis did a short solo tour with only keyboardist Steve Nieve for accompaniment. They played a version of “Indoor Fireworks” that I will never forget. King Of America is a masterpiece.

Elvis Costello_ Singles & B-Sides

Elvis Costello: “Tiny Steps” (Costello)

From the 7″ single Radio Radio

Radar Records, 1978

My favorite Elvis b-side.

Goodbye Cruel World

Elvis Costello & The Attraction: “Love Field” (Costello)

From the album Goodbye Cruel World

Columbia Records, 1984

In his liner note to the Rykodisc reissue, Elvis says, “Congratulations. You’ve just purchased our worst album.” That may be true, but Elvis at his worst is still pretty damn amazing sometimes.

Mighty Like A Rose

Elvis Costello: “So Like Candy” (McCartney/MacManus)

From the album Mighty Like A Rose

Warner Brothers Records, 1991

In 1987, Elvis got together with Paul McCartney and wrote a large number of songs. Some ended up on McCartney albums (“My Brave Face”), and some on Costello albums (“Veronica”). “So Like Candy” is easily my favorite of the McCartney/MacManus compositions. Someone needs to gather up all of the demos from these sessions and put out a proper record…

Armed Forces

Elvis Costello & The Attractions: “Goon Squad” (Costello)

From the album Armed Forces

Radar Records, 1979

Bruce Thomas is one hell of a bass player. It’s a shame that he and Elvis just can’t seem to get along.

BandC

Elvis Costello & The Attractions: “Uncomplicated” (Costello)

From the album Blood & Chocolate

Columbia Records, 1986

I am still boggled that Elvis released King Of America and Blood & Chocolate in the same year. The records couldn’t be more different, but both are still pure Costello. “Uncomplicated” may be the nastiest thing the Attractions ever put on vinyl.

Punch the Clock

Elvis Costello & The Attraction: “Shipbuilding” (Costello/Langer)

From the album Punch The Clock

Columbia Records, 1983

“Shipbuilding” may be pushing the definition of a “deep cut” (it was released as a single in Japan), but I have to include what I think is Elvis’ finest moment. This beautiful song (written shortly after the Falklands conflict) features the great Chet Baker on trumpet.

Get Happy!!

Elvis Costello & The Attractions: “Riot Act” (Costello)

From the album Get Happy!!

Columbia Records, 1980

Can I channel High Fidelity for a moment? OK, thank you.

Top five album closers of all time– go! “Riot Act” just might make my list. I started to include my top five here, but I think I’ll save mine for a future post…

___________________________________________________________

Bonus Tracks!

The first rule of The Analog Kid blog is that if you write about a song on the Analog Kid blog, you share the song on the Analog Kid blog.

Spike

Elvis Costello: “Veronica” (McCartney/MacManus)

From the album Spike

Warner Brothers Records, 1989

Mighty Like A Rose

Elvis Costello: “The Other Side Of Summer” (MacManus)

From the album Mighty Like A Rose

Warner Brothers Records, 1991

Flowers In The Dirt

Paul McCartney: “My Brave Face” (McCartney/MacManus)

From the album Flowers In The Dirt

Capitol Records, 1989

About The Analog Kid

"I'm 5-foot-8, 123 pounds. I have, uh, brown hair, blue eyes. I enjoy surfing, backgammon and men who aren't afraid to cry."

3 responses »

  1. UTCz says:

    re: Paul and Elvis, though not a “proper” record, you might search out this… http://lifeofthebeatles.blogspot.com/2009/01/paul-mccartney-elvis-costello-mccartney.html

  2. Undeniably believe that which you stated. Your favorite justification seemed to be on the net the easiest thing to be aware of.
    I say to you, I definitely get irked while people think about worries that they just don’t know about.
    You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people can take a signal.
    Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

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