I disagree with the other reviews.
J. T White | London, Ontario, Canada | 12/25/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Before anyone gets upset with what I'm about to write, let me state that I'm a dedicated Costello fan and have been listening to him and buying his records (yes, when records were vinyl LPs) since day one. I think that he is one of the truly great and gifted musicians and songwriters and my favourite musical artist (next to the Beatles).It's acknowledged by EC cognoscentes that 'Goodbye Cruel World' (the album that immediately followed 'Punch' and was released a year later) marks the nadir of his career and that 'Punch the Clock' isn't far behind. The two albums are often paired together and I think justifiably regarded as parts 1 and 2 of a set. In fact, Elvis lost a sizeable portion of his audience after the release of these two albums. He has been fighting an uphill battle ever since to recover the level of support lost after 'Goodbye Cruel World'.Despite respectable sales of 'Punch the Clock', I've always suspected that post 'Goodbye Cruel World' a lot of Elvis fans, upon reflection, suffered from buyer's remorse over `Punch' and perhaps even some embarrassment. If this album was in their music libraries, the owners were probably hesitant to admit so and the album probably never left the shelf or the box at the back of the closet until some garage sale called out for it. I also suspect that those who bought the cd edition of this album did so more out of a sense of obligation than anything else.I am not critizing Elvis' decision to try something different (i.e. a more "pop" oriented sound). (Although doing something different in and of itself does not guarantee that the results will be interesting, entertaining, artistically successful or even done well). Perhaps he was motivated by an understandable sense of disappointment over the sales of 'Imperial Bedroom'. I get the feeling from this album that Elvis' desire to do something different is a bit forced; done out of a sense of frustration or from some obligation or determination to do so but his heart was never truly in it, unlike `The Juliet Letters' or 'Painted from Memory'. These two albums were very different directions for Elvis, each of which he obviously believed in and enjoyed. (Look at his dour portrait on the front cover of 'Punch'. That should tell you something. It's not exactly a happy face to go along with the upbeat pop music on the disc.) Yes, the album does deliver some clever, witty, entertaining and even thoughtful lyrics. There are some standout tracks ('Everyday I Write the Book', 'Shipbuilding', 'Pills for Soap') but unless you're an Elvis collector/ completist, I recommend picking up one of his compilation albums to hear those songs. The real problem with this album is its production. No, I'm criticizing it because it is too "pop" oriented or too polished. The production is technically well done, and I should add that Rhino's remastering sounds great. The real problem is that too many of the tracks sound alike. When listening to this cd, I find myself wondering if I hadn't already heard this tune or that. Some of the tracks are not distinguishable from one another. Many of the songs that should be memorable, which deserve to be memorable, simply aren't. In all the upbeatness, I find a weary tedium. For the Elvis collector/ completist, I would recommend this cd for the commendable remastered sound quality of the original album and for the tracks on the bonus disc. (There are many demos including 'Shatterproof' which supplied Rockpile's Billy Bremner with a hit single. There is also a two song medley from a BBC performance that includes a cover of the Beat's `Stand Down Margaret'.) For the general music fan who is interested in Elvis, I would recommend purchasing a compliation "best of" album instead."
Just Plain Great
Tom Neely | Dublin, CA | 06/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've read so many bad reviews of this album and I just don't get it. This album is packed full of very clever songs and great lyrics with a great big noisy band behind Elvis. It's a real treat for the ears. And for the song writer/musicians out there, these songs are brilliantly written, using thick harmonies and great chord changes.
Don't pass this one by."