What I Like Most About You Is Your Girlfriend (Live)
Motel Matches (Live)
Love Field (Live)
Throughout his phenomenal, almost 30-year career, Elvis Costello has proved himself one of the most versatile and inventive stars in the pop music firmament. He first rose to fame as one of punk rock's breakthrough talents... more » then went on to release innovative albums interpreting a truly diverse range of genres. Costello-originally Liverpool's own Declan McManus-has made an indelible mark on the pop music songbook, bringing unfettered passion and profound lyrical weight to his richly creative stylistic adventures. These three titles continue Rhino's Deluxe Edition restoration of his extraordinary catalogue.« less
Throughout his phenomenal, almost 30-year career, Elvis Costello has proved himself one of the most versatile and inventive stars in the pop music firmament. He first rose to fame as one of punk rock's breakthrough talents then went on to release innovative albums interpreting a truly diverse range of genres. Costello-originally Liverpool's own Declan McManus-has made an indelible mark on the pop music songbook, bringing unfettered passion and profound lyrical weight to his richly creative stylistic adventures. These three titles continue Rhino's Deluxe Edition restoration of his extraordinary catalogue.
Not EC's best but has its moments
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 08/23/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The mistake was working with The Attractions on this one. That and a very unhappy Declan MacManus. Although "Goodbye Cruel World" has become notorious for having "Congradulations, You've bought our worst album" in the CD liner notes, nobody knew when it first came out that it would be one of EC's weaker albums. The poppy single track "You're Not the Only Flame in Town" promised so much more. There are a couple of gems here and buried somewhere under Langer & Winstanley's production is a good, solid album by EC & TA.
The reissue is much, much better than the original release. Why? Because the second disc has 11 of the tracks from the original album in demo form. Don't sell those old Ryko/Demon CDs yet. It also has the previously released bonus tracks from the original release with the curious exception of "Deportee" a re-recording of the track "The Deportee Club" with a new melody. I'm at a loss as to why it wasn't included here as it's a valid attempt to find new life in an old song.
The liner notes make this almost worth the price of admission. We get an extensive booklet with more info than in the previous one plus lyrics to all the songs including demo lyrics that might be different from the final release. Either way this (along with its companion albums "Almost Blue" and "Kojak Variety" also re-relased at the same time) form part of a trio of unloved, unwanted EC albums. Embrace them and decide for yourself."
Like sex and pizza, even bad E.C. is still pretty good
A.B. | Los Angeles, CA | 02/04/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I have been an Elvis Costello fan since I purchased cassettes of "Trust" and "Armed Forces" in the discount bin at a mall record store chain in the mid-80s. I'd liked what I'd heard from him prior to my first official purchase, but those two albums converted me into an official fan, as opposed to a casual listener.
I had never been interested in purchasing "Goodbye Cruel World," because I'd heard a couple songs from it and they just sounded like Elvis being infected by the 80s cheese that engulfed all music at that time.
However, my Monopoly-like obsession to own everything by artists I love coupled with Rhino's lauded reissues of his catalog (and the realization that they are out of print and will soon be rare or insanely expensive) inspired me to go ahead and pick this up just so I'd know what the fuss is all about.
I've listened to it about 10 times all the way through and while it is certainly not a great album, there are some great songs on here that have, in most cases, been executed (i.e. produced) poorly. The songs are victims of the 80s. And Elvis isn't the only artist this happened to (see also Bruce Springsteen, Pete Townshend, Tom Petty, to name three), although he's the only one who has admitted it so vocally.
But if you can look past the synths and the glossy production, you'll find some hidden gems including, "Home Truth," "Joe Porterhouse" and "Peace in Our Time."
If you are just discovering Elvis Costello's music, this is not the place to start (buy one of the many "best of" collections to get a sampling of his vast catalog - I normally wouldn't recommend compilations, but for E.C. there are too many good albums of varying styles to recommend just one), but if you are a serious fan, it's worth delving into this one, if only to hear something new.
I was surprised when these songs actually started clicking with me. At first listen I was not into them at all. But on repeated listens, his complex song structures started making more sense and I realized this collection isn't half bad.
Reading the liner notes and learning just how unhappy Elvis was with how this one turned out makes listening to it that much more interesting. But like I said, only a fan would care.
This is what makes this release that much better than previous issues. Including so many of the demos gives context to what Elvis describes in the liner notes. He wanted one thing, but the producers wanted something different than that. The result is the less than stellar "Goodbye Cruel World". But even bad Elvis Costello is better than most, and as mentioned above, there are some decent songs on this.
A guilty pleasure or two
Count Istvan Telecky | 07/31/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"It's commonly agreed that 'Goodbye' is not one of Costello's better efforts. I concur, but must confess enjoyment of two songs that are generally cursed by EC purists: 'I Wanna Be Loved' and 'Only Flame in Town'.
While not lyrically compelling, I find the songs musically enjoyable. Love the strange synth feel to 'Wanna' and even the sax solo. The demo version of 'Only Flame' on EC's 'All This Useless Beauty' bonus disc is superior to the standard recording here. Costello originally seems to have conceived the song as a 50s style slow dance number. It's kitschy but fun!
'The Comedians', also recorded by the late Roy Orbison, is about the only other cut of significant interest. Like 'Only Flame', the demo version of this song on Rhino's 'All This Useless Beauty' bonus disc is better than the one here."
Poor Napoleon's Waterloo
K. H. Orton | New York, NY USA | 08/04/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Tear off the cellophane & the liner notes greet you with, "Congratulations! You just bought our worst album !"
Prospects do indeed look grim. And perhaps this is Poor Napolean's Waterloo. Holding his life in his hands with an artificial limp wrist. It could be worse. After all, we're not talking about Billy Joel here.
But after so many years of pumping out classics at such a frenetic pace, he was bound to fall off his pedestal sooner or later. One listen to PUNCH THE CLOCK & it doesn't take genius to figure out a career crisis was right around the bend.
Personally, "Only Flame In Town" is a guilty pleasure of mine. Well, not "guilty". It's damn fine song. Like, "Everyday I Write The Book", it's a Pop song that makes no apologies for being such. Something you have to admire. And the spare, acoustic version on the bonus disc beautifully makes up for any over-production.
Though a woefully barbiturate take on, "I Wanna Be Loved" seems to have been the the official hit, the only true essential on here is " Love Field". The opening chords will never fail to stop you in your tracks. And as demos would later prove, "Deportee" & "Comedians" are great songs that never had a chance. Same goes for alot of the material on here. But hand a song over to Roy Orbison & you might as well kiss it goodbye.
With the possible exception of "Peace In Our Time", the rest of the album could be characterized as the sound of a man choking on his own piss & vinegar. Slapping on slick production to disguise that fact is the perfect recipie for disaster.
Throughout it all, self-loathing is all too evident. In fact it's something that would go on to characterize his next two releases. But where KING OF AMERICA took a knife & stripped things bare, & BLOOD & CHOCOLATE made gloriously cathartic racket, everything here just turns brittle & shatters.
To be fair, this is far from the worst record ever recorded. There are a lot of things out there far more deserving of that honor. That said, in terms of the high quality of Costello's past work, this is a somewhat dismal listen. For the devoted but discerning fan, it might just prove too painful to witness. Not only does the hero take a fall, he's the fall guy. And no matter how much bonus material you tack on, it won't put this Humpty Dumpty back together again.