Cruel Smile is a stop-gap compilation of peripheral recordings dating from the When I Was Cruel sessions (including sundry remixes of tracks from that album), radio slots, and performance tracks, many of which were originally released as B-sides and bonus cuts on singles from the far flung corners of the globe. Costello aficionados may already own the likes of the blood-and-guts live rendition of "Uncomplicated" and the two admirable recordings of the Charlie Chaplin-penned/Nat "King" Cole-covered "Smile"--one dripping with strings, sax, and theatrical stardust and the other more plaintive), which Costello recorded for the Japanese TV drama 100 Million Stars Falling from the Sky. --Kevin Maidment
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Elvis -- Please, Not Everything Should Be Released
Todd and In Charge | Miami, FL | 02/09/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This odds-and-sods collection of live tracks, outtakes, b-sides, and trivia from Elvis' 2002 When I Was Cruel Tour has some interesting moments, but otherwise should have stayed on the cutting-room floor. Several tracks are standouts -- the version of "Uncomplicated" here is a winner, and the "Watching the Detectives/My Funny Valentine" segue is inventive and fresh.
That leaves the rest of the album. Too often, Elvis has seemed dedicated to convincing us that he can really sing torch ballads like the great ones. Uhh, he can't. The second cut, a painfully drawn out version of "Almost Blue," makes this point abundantly clear. One could literally have a smoke and stretch the legs between the final phrasing, an intolerably overbearing moment in an album that has several. The one time Elvis' torch ballad approach has really worked is on "Painted From Memory," where he had the great arranger and songwriter Burt Bacharach to help reel him in from his sometimes-too-much-is-too-much tendencies.
I would say this one is for the fans, but too many of Elvis' recent records fall within that category to recommend it even in that limited role. This is a record for those who think Kojak Variety was 60 minutes too short."