"Now that thirty years has passed since his debut, it is apparent to me that Elvis Costello has a lot more in common with his namesake than a singing career. Case in point - Almost immediately upon his arrival at RCA, Elvis Presley's recordings were packaged with little regard to the consumer, and then re-packaged so relentlessly that nobody except the most dedicated, wealthy, and mentally unbalanced collector could possibly hope to amass all of Presley's catalog. With blithe regularity, RCA executives would abuse their position as the historic caretakers of a rock and roll legend by digging deeper and deeper into obscurities, then packaging them with recycled classic recordings. Very, very little was genuinely `new' except the package itself. These collections are innumerable, and I pity the poor soul who suffers the disease of being a completist collector, because it can cost you your bank account, your house, and maybe even your marriage, all in the pursuit of owning all that is Elvis. It now appears as though the same type of abuse has befallen the recorded works of Elvis Costello. I should know. I was one of those `mentally unbalanced' individuals who felt the need to own every Elvis Costello item released on the marketplace. In the beginning, it was kind of fun. Costello had numerous singles with non-LP b-sides, and plenty of `alternate' versions to keep fans quite busy. I was a part of that vinyl junkie set, a cult of obsessed lunatics who lived to find the rarest single, or an alternate package. After three years and hundreds of dollars spent, I remember feeling betrayed when Columbia issued "Taking Liberties," a collection of Elvis' rare b-sides. In an instant, one five-dollar album made twenty rarities commonplace. Nevertheless, I soldiered on; buying 10" collector's singles, alternate mixes, and all sorts of oddities. Then, the CD era began, and it started to happen all over again. Elvis changed labels (from Columbia to Warner Brothers), and his catalog albums were subjected to not one, not two, but three separate repackagings, each of them containing unique `rarities' that could be obtained nowhere else. A dedicated collector would require four versions of each Elvis Costello album. At this point, I finally surrendered, but I already spent enough to finance a Hawaiian vacation for some record executive and his family of four. Nowadays I simply stand by, amazed as the repackaging craze continues unabated. By my count, the above named collections represent the 10th and 11th re-compilation of Elvis Costello's `hits'. I'm not saying they are bad collections. The booklets contain song lyrics, which is a nice touch, especially for the older material. Naturally, the songs are great and I should know, because I bought each of these tracks at least a half-dozen times already. If you still don't own them, then go ahead and buy them. You will enjoy them. I, however, will stare at my room full of Elvis-related plastic and acknowledge the reason that I never made that trip to Hawaii myself. B+ Tom Ryan"
Slice of Costello's first decade
hyperbolium | Earth, USA | 05/09/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The distribution rights to Costello's first eleven albums, everything from 1977's "My Aim is True" through 1986's "Blood & Chocolate," have recently moved to the Universal empire for a fresh round of reissues. Previous programs from Ryko and Rhino resulted in ever lengthening CDs of the decade's worth of material, along with a variety of best-ofs. Universal kicks off their own reissue program (which will include this material's first-ever licensed digital downloads) with a pair of 22-track anthologies: the broader "Best of the First 10 Years" and this thematic volume surveying Costello's rock material. Only a few tracks, "(I Don't Wanna Go to) Chelsea," "Pump It Up," and "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding," overlap between the two discs, making them excellent companions.
The focus here narrows to six of Costello's albums of the era, "My Aim is True," "This Year's Model," "Armed Forces," "Get Happy," "Trust," and "Blood & Chocolate," deepening the selections from the first and last, and adding five singles and a track ("Girls Talk") previously only available as a CD bonus. The sole previously unreleased item here is a guitar-and-voice demo of "Welcome to the Working Week," and a pair of previously released live tracks ("Mystery Dance" and "You Belong to Me") substitute for the studio versions. Boiling down Costello's first decade to 22 rock nuggets really shows how tough the Attractions (who back Costello on nearly everything here) were as a combo. The tracks from "My Aim is True" highlight Costello's lyrical and vocal acidity, but the backing band (Clover, from Marin County, California) simply didn't provide the instrumental bite the Attractions would introduce on 1979's "This Year's Model."
"This album, paired with the "The Best of the First Ten Years," makes a good, low-cost introduction to the sonic boom that Costello left in his wake. On the other hand, anyone other than the neophyte should go with his original albums, reissued with many supplementary tracks, as they are far more satisfying."
GREAT MUSIC BUT DOESN'T SOUND REMASTERED
David P. Weber | North Fremantle | 07/14/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is an excellent, inexpensive collection of some of the best work of Costello & company. It's mainly The Attractions belting out great rock song after great etcetera, but is it remastered? It says it is-- yet I have the original discs (some of the very first issues, dunno what we're up to now) and they don't sound all that different. A bit tinny, with distortion here and there. It suits the songs-- as it did the first time around-- and is closer to the original records. There doesn't seem to be ANY boosting, to my ears. Oh well."
Costello at his best.!
Borgogno | Marseille, France | 01/23/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a very good best of Elvis Costello. But all (or allmost) Elvis' songs could be insert in a compilation. Most of the rock songs of "Little Hands of Concrete" (as he call himself) are inside. See the track listing! "Chelsea", "No action", "What so funny 'bout Peace, Love and Understanding", "Miracle Man", "Gilrls Talk"... And more! It's also include an excellent alternate version of "Honey are you straight or are you blind ?" (maybe better than the one included in "Blood and Chocolate"!)and the demo of "Welcome to the working week". For the fans as the absolute beginners... "Straight or blind" this one is for you. Just Rock'n'Roll Music by Declan Mac Mannus (his real name) : not more, not less. And it's means a lot. Gilles "From Marseille, France" Borgogno. PS: 'scuse my awfull American."