Best Of: First 10 Years CD (2007)

Artist: Elvis Costello

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The best early Costello single CD yet

by on 5/8/2007

You can't hardly swing a dead cat without hitting Costello's early material in reissue form. With Ryko and Rhino both having taken ever-lengthening passes at his albums, Hip-O picks up the catalog years of 1977-1986 for another round. In addition to a new pair of compilations (this one and "Rock and Roll Music") that skim the initial decade's eleven albums, their May 1 release date also marks the re-re-re-reissue of the albums on CD and the catalog's digital download debut (initially from iTunes, later from addtiional services). ¶ After so many Costello reissues and compilations, this collection is mostly a retail shelving refresher and a beacon for Hip-O's album reissue and digital programs; all 22 of these tracks have been available on CD before. And as with other single-disc Costello anthologies such as Sony's 1990 19-track "Best of Elvis Costello and the Attractions" and Ryko's 1994 22-track "Very Best of Elvis Costello and the Attractions," there's simply too much worthy material in Costello's initial eleven albums (not to mention assorted singles and B-sides) to fully essay in 80 minutes. ¶ What you get here is a well drawn sketch that provides the neophyte a sense of Costello's incredible torrent of early creativity, the sustain of his first few years, a few missteps in the mid-80s, and a stronger-than-ever comeback with 1986's "King of America" and "Blood & Chocolate" LPs." Though fans of the albums will mentally flinch at the inter-album segues (and thus the missing classics), condensing Costello's career arc does demonstrate how his punk-era angst and blistering song-writing aged and then reasserted itself in a more mature, but no less powerful form a decade later. Reducing 10 years to a single CD also creates a bit of genre whiplash as Costello applied himself to rock, punk, pop, soul, R&B blues, and jazz. ¶ As on Ryko's 1994 collection, Costello aided in the track selection. No surprise then that there are 19 tracks in common with Ryko's earlier release. The three substitutions add the essential "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes," "Almost Blue," and "New Lace Sleeves" in place of the expendable "Watch Your Step," "New Amsterdam," and "Love Field," making this the best single-disc Costello anthology on the market. Costello fans are better off making their own anthologies from the original albums, but those just coming to his work decades after the fact will find this an excellent primer. 4-1/2 stars, if allowed fractional ratings. [©2007 redtunictroll at hotmail dot com]

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Product Overview

As an encapsulation of the most vital period in Elvis Costello's career, The First Ten Years portrays of a rule-breaker who nevertheless had a deep respect for his musical roots. Even as he was defining New Wave in the late 1970s with "Watching the Detectives," "Pump it Up," and "Radio, Radio," Elvis was paying homage to The Byrds on "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes" and copping Spinners riffs on "Alison." The collection follows Costello into the '80s as he expands his songwriting and production palette ("New Lace Sleeves," "Beyond Belief") while tackling old-school country ("Good Year for the Roses") and Stax soul ("I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down").

In the years that followed this collection's scope, Costello would launch himself whole-heartedly into everything from big-band jazz to classical orchestration, but the seeds of all that eclecticism (not to mention the aesthetic template for most of his subsequent work) lie in the tracks presented here. As one of the most original artistic personalities of his era, Costello proved enormously influential for multiple generations, and The First 10 Years shows the achievements on which his legend is built.


Label Universal Music Group
SKU 204347982
UPC 602517260917
UPC 14 00602517260917
Format CD
Release Date 5/1/2007
Author Elvis Costello
Product Attributes
Artist Costello,Elvis
Label Universal Music Group
Music Format Compact Disc

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The best early Costello single CD yet by on May 08, 2007