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King of America

Elvis CostelloAudio CD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

Price: $14.99
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Amazon Price New from Used from
Audio CD, 1995 $14.99  
Vinyl, Limited Edition, 2013 $32.99  
Audio Cassette, 1986 --  

Amazon's Elvis Costello Store


Image of album by Elvis Costello


Image of Elvis Costello


The Return Of The Spectacular Spinning Songbook


Declan MacManus is known as one of the most idiosyncratic new wave performers, under his alias Elvis Costello. The UK-born singer-songwriter had a string of Top 30 chart hits in the UK in the late 70s and early 80s, though his work throughout his career has always gathered critical respect.

Although he was initially marketed as a punk, his music originally seemed to sound more like ... Read more in Amazon's Elvis Costello Store

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for 180 albums, 6 photos, videos, discussions, and more.

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King of America + Blood & Chocolate + Imperial Bedroom
Price for all three: $36.32

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 8, 1995)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rykodisc
  • ASIN: B0000009V0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #104,727 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Brilliant Mistake
2. Loveable
3. Our Little Angel
4. Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
5. Glitter Gulch
6. Indoor Fireworks
7. Little Palaces
8. I'll Wear It Proudly
9. American Without Tears
10. Eisenhower Blues
11. Poisoned Rose
12. The Big Light
13. Jack Of All Parades
14. Suit Of Lights
15. Sleep Of The Just
16. The People's Limousine
17. They'll Never Take Her Love From Me
18. Suffering Face
19. Shoes Without Heels
20. King Of Confidence

Editorial Reviews

Seeking to exorcise the demons of 1981's ill-fated country album, Almost Blue, Elvis Costello had another go with 1985's exquisite 15-song exploration of American life, King of America. "Little Palaces" and "Indoor Fireworks" feel like you've lived with them all your life. "Our Little Angel" has the aura of a lost Hank Williams classic, but, of course, only Costello could come up with a couplet like "You try to love but you're so contrary / Like a chainsaw running through a dictionary." King of America isn't all slide guitars and domestic discord, though. "Lovable" is as pure a moment of joyful abandon as Costello has ever allowed himself. Six months later, he kicked up an unholy racket with Blood and Chocolate. Costello fans have never seen another year like it. --Peter Paphides

Product Description

This 2 CD set is an out of print collectible!It is the 1995 Rykodisc version. Catalog RCD 20281.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Among the Best Albums of the 80s July 23, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
This album is essential listening -- and it's one of Elvis Costello's finest albums. The lyrics are full of the bite and snarl you'd expect from an Elvis album. But what sets this CD apart is the music. It's complex and diverse, and they stay with you long after the record is finished. It's very comparable to Imperial Bedroom, and in many ways it is superior.
Elvis used musicians from Elvis Presley's band for some of the tracks, as well as legendary jazz bassist Ray Brown on some others. If you are an Elvis fan, you will be an even bigger fan once you are done with this CD.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Picturesque Poetry and Softhearted Ballads July 2, 2000
By dev1
Format:Audio CD
It's difficult not to recognize the similarities between Elvis Costello's King Of America and Bob Dylan's Blood On The Tracks. King Of America is stark and moving folk, and like Blood On The Tracks, the tone is barren. Elvis is at his poetic peak: he can pen captivating images with one or two lines, and has enough smarts to toss lyrical barbs. "She said that she was working for the ABC News. It was as much of the alphabet as she knew how to use" from `Brilliant Mistake'. I'm not certain what the line "I was a fine idea at the time. Now I'm a brilliant mistake" (Brilliant Mistake) means, but it certainly sounds melancholy. He paints woeful pictures of love: "You think that you'll be sweet to her, but everybody knows that you're the marshmallow valentine that got stuck on her clothes" (Our Little Angel). `American Without Tears' has a slight country feel. Elvis writes a romantic ballad with a catchy male-female reversal (Sleep Of The Just).
Expect bittersweet organ chords from Mitchell Froom (Producer - Richard Thompson), touches of blue guitar from James Burton (Could this be the same James Burton that was a member of Elvis Presley's TCB?) and a solid back beat from session extraordinaire Jim Keltner. With 15 tracks, Elvis gives the listener his money's worth, but I'd prefer that a few of the selections had been dropped. `Lovable' and `Eisenhower Blues' are uninspired lightning fast rock-a-billy songs, and the speedy country tunes (Glitter Gulch & The Big Light) are out of place. Picturesque poetry, softhearted ballads and first-class musicianship. Maybe Elvis is the King of America.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine and brilliant idea September 22, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
This record isn't a brilliant mistake; instead, it is probably Elvis Costello's best album. Including several masterpieces such as "Indoor Fireworks", "Brilliant mistake" (also known as King of America) and "Suit of lights", Elvis sang blues, country and folk songs. I know the songs by heart and in my opinion this is the best album of the eighties.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Costello Show July 7, 2005
Format:Audio CD
When Elvis Costello decided to finally to roots rock HIS way (as opposed to the mis-fit of "Almost Blue'), he switched his name back to Declan MacManus and forged ahead into brilliance. With the exception of the slippery jam session of "Eisenhower Blues," the 15 songs on "King Of America" are as flawless a whole album as anything from his early years and his most successful collaboration with a producer, in this case, T-Bone Burnett, save Burt Bacharach.

By recruiting some of the best musicians old and new, songs like "Brilliant Mistake" and "American Without Tears" effortlessly blossom with atmosphere and honesty. Even though Elvis describes his state of mind in less than flattering terms in the CD's extra liner notes, it's incredible just how seamlessly the songs here flow through the course of the album. Almost every song here glimmers with the kind of purity that Burnett would eventually trademark with the likes of "Oh Brother Where Art Thou." Even the Attractions, who at this venture, had become estranged and embittered, contribute one of their best performances ever with the single song "Suit Of Lights." Given the song's topic of entertainment as entrapment and the image of a southern mob's tar and feather party as "the closest to a work of art that they will ever be," it's not surprising that they could relate.

In fact, Elvis seemed to be at a more relaxed state of lyricism than since the underrated "Trust." Compare the fire analogies of "The Only Flame In Town" (on "Goodbye Cruel World") to the far superior "Indoor Fireworks" here. Or such leap from the speakers couplets like "She said that she was working for the ABC news, it was as much of the alphabet as she new how to use" from "Brilliant Mistake.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best things ever put together June 15, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
all is great on this, the tune, the voice the eighth track is so amazingly written.. i love that
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Elvis' best piece of Americana March 2, 2004
Format:Audio CD
If you like your Elvis toned downed and a little folkier, this is the perfect album to get. Elvis is an extremely prolific and ecclectic songwriter, so it's sometimes hard to know what you are getting, unless you get his classic 80's stuff. Everything else is spotty, though sometimes brilliant. This album is also a good way to get to know the Gram Parson's side of his influences and just how much country means to his music. Plus, it's always interesting to hear and Englishman doing country. Definitely, it's own twist to the genre.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
Elvis Costello has made a lot of albums, but few, if any, are better than this one; in my mind, only "Armed Forces" really compares (give honorable mentions to "This Year's Model," "Almost Blue," and "Imperial Bedroom"). It never had a chance in either England or the US, and that's a shame. Every single song is worthy of numerous superlatives, but even on this masterpiece there are standouts--the sardonic, defeatist "Brilliant Mistake," the heartbreaking "Indoor Fireworks" (if George Jones hasn't recorded this one, he ought to), one of Costello's best songs of a relationship gone bad; there's also "Little Palaces," a bitter and twisted song of the frustrations of the working life seemingly inspired by a story from "Dubliners," and "Suit Of Lights," a tribute to his father and an indictment of the people who couldn't understand or care what the Nat King Cole standards his father sang were really all about. And there's more than that--I've barely scratched the surface of what this album has to offer. With backing by a number of jazz, R&B, and rock greats including Ray Brown, Earl Palmer, David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, and James Burton, this may be one of the finest and least appreciated albums in the history of rock 'n' roll. This album should be considered essential listening in any format.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Elvis is King on this terrific album
"King of America" remains a top notch Elvis Costello album and this is a nice sounding single disc edition if that's all you want. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Wayne Klein
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable
I'm probably in agreement with some reviewers that this is the best thing Elvis Costello has made. It gets the nod because the songs flow together as an experience, and a quality... Read more
Published on February 7, 2010 by tierny
4.0 out of 5 stars Looking Across the Atlantic
It was an indelible, and ironic, piece of bravura for Costello to at this time have named himself the King of anything. Read more
Published on January 21, 2004 by David Manning
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Perfect
I originally purchased this album on vinyl and fell in love with it from the first listen I gave it. I'm not sure there is a better recording to put on and unwind to. Read more
Published on September 1, 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Americana Without Tears
Reading some of the reviews of this album, I am amazed that it seems to be most warmly embraced by casual Elvis fans and most vilified by his true believers. Read more
Published on May 1, 2002 by Anne R. Eason
4.0 out of 5 stars Get Here Gradually
I am surprised at reading some of these reviews that out of all of Elvis' albums, people would buy this first. Read more
Published on February 14, 2002 by G.C.
3.0 out of 5 stars Americana Baloney
This album isn't the materpiece it's often made out to be and it's one that's aged pretty poorly in comparison with some of Costello's less celebrated work from before and after. Read more
Published on November 2, 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Elvis' Best Album.
Maybe I have no right to say that because I haven't heard every single Elvis album (yet), but I have yet to hear anything else in his collection that moves me as much as this CD. Read more
Published on July 30, 2001 by Matt
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Solid Album Indeed
Elvis Costello has created a series of pieces, each driven by a central theme (America), each subtly layered. Read more
Published on September 9, 2000 by M. Packham
5.0 out of 5 stars I own it on vinyl and CD
I think I first bought this album in high school and I loved it then. I repurchased in on CD and I just don't get tired of it. Read more
Published on August 18, 2000 by Jennifer
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