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The Very Best of Elvis Costello

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Audio CD, April 17, 2001
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Editorial Reviews

The debate over whether he is punk or new wave is long over; today Elvis Costello is less likely to be found on a list with Strummer and Scabies than he is with Bacharach and David and Jimmy Webb. Lauded initially for his energetic and literate attacks on the social ills of Thatcher's England, he has become a peerless master of the popular song. The evolution of Costello's craft as a songwriter and performer, from the early high-octane polemics, through his stylistic experiments with country and soul, and on to standards written for others, is splendidly documented on this elegant two-disc set. Chronology is ignored in favor of a thoughtful program that catalogs the jewels from his prolific output and a sprinkling of covers that demonstrate the maturing of his singing voice. The 42 tracks here lean generously to the first 10 years with the Attractions, but also collects the best of his subsequent collaborations with the cream of America's session musicians and on through to "She," his contribution to the soundtrack of 1999's Notting Hill. --Rob Stewart

Disc: 1
1. (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding
2. Oliver's Army
3. Watching The Detectives
4. Alison
5. (I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea
6. Accidents Will Happen
7. Pump It Up
8. I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down
9. Radio Radio
10. Clubland
See all 21 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Big Tears - Elvis Costello & The Attractions
2. Beyond Belief - Elvis Costello & The Attractions
3. Lipstick Vogue - Elvis Costello & The Attractions
4. Green Shirt - Elvis Costello & The Attractions
5. Pills & Soap
6. Tramp The Dirt Down
7. Shipbuilding - Elvis Costello & The Attractions
8. High Fidelity - Elvis Costello & The Attractions
9. New Lace Sleeves - Elvis Costello & The Attractions
10. (The Angels Wanna Hear My) Red Shoes
See all 21 tracks on this disc

Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 17, 2001)
  • Original Release Date: 2001
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Rhino
  • ASIN: B00005ARFU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,711 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 83 people found the following review helpful By L. Alper on June 23, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I have owned quite a number of Elvis Costello anthology albums. The first was back in the late 80's, a "Greatest Hits" LP put out by CBS/Columbia. In 91 I purchased "Girls, Girls, Girls" a triple CD collection, & recently found a budget priced cassette called "Extreme Honey: the Best of the Warner Bros. Years". Each of these had songs I liked, but often contained more that I didn't.
Now I have purchased "The Very Best of Elvis Costello" & for once I can say this album absolutely lives up to it's title! In 2 CD's we have an overview of the extraordinary career of one of the most prolific & multi-faceted songwriters of our time. It's wonderful! Everything is here, from the chilling "Watching the Detectives" & supersonic "Lipstick Vogue" of the early albums thru the jazz & country-tinged experiments of the late 80's up to his latest collaborations with the Brodsky Quartet & Burt Bacharach. There isn't a single song that tempts me to hit the "forward" button on my CD player.
Curiously, Rhino has opted to put the material in a non-sequential order. Most greatest hits collections start with the earliest songs, working their way up to the latest. "The Very Best of..." was organized by someone who had their mind on creating an emotional mood rather than a history of the artist. Although normally I prefer the time-line approach, in this casse it works quite well. If you want to hear the developement of Costello's song-writing, Rhino has included original release dates in the credits so that you can sequence your own order. Other than song titles & lists of musicians, this is about all the information you will discover inside the jewel case.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Spencer Medvick on January 14, 2002
Format: Audio CD
This is an exceptional album, it may be the best compilation disk I have ever heard, over it's two disks it:
1. Provides an excellant cross section of Elvis' career
2. Keeps the listener interested by the mix of sounds
3. Doesn't have a "clunker"
4. Provides something hard to find elsewhere ("She")
5. Does not give everything away, there are omissions here that make me go back to the original albums
As an introduction to Elvis or for the obsessed fan, this album is essential.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By R. Gorham on April 17, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Out of Declan (Elvis) McManus' several greatest hits packages, this one is the best. While the single disc entries are good, you just can't contain Elvis's library of music to one cd. Brains, style & energy - this is Elvis. Whether his lyrics discuss political views, relationships or they're just plain cynical observations - you know Elvis will sing about it smartly. Sure, the hits are wonderful, but the real gems lie in some of those obscure album tracks. Disc 1 in this collection concentrates on many of the radio friendly songs (Alison, Watching The Detectives, Oliver's Army, Pump It Up, Radio Radio, Everday I Write The Book) that Elvis & the Attractions stamped out in the late 70's and 80's. Although I enjoy all of Elvis' work, I was a major fan of his at the beginning of his career (My Aim Is True, Armed Forces, This Year's Model). While this package disregards chronologic order, the song selections of Elvis & the Attractions and his solo career are well placed. Disc 2, in my opinion, leans toward the more recent & obscure tunes (the best being Big Tears, Pills & Soap, Indoor Firworks & High Fidelity). It's quite evident that his style has changed since 1977's "My Aim Is True". His career has covered the spectrum - New wave, punk, pop and rock. Hard to believe that prior to "Elvis & The Attractions" - this boy was playing country rock in the band "Flip City". There are at least 3 "greatest hits" packages now by Elvis Costello. This one is easily the best to date, and the most complete.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Steve Vrana HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on November 10, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Sure, Costello burst onto the music scene in 1977 when the punk/new wave scene was emerging and songs like "Welcome to the Working Week" and "Less Than Zero" from his debut certainly seemed to fit the genre. But on that same debut was the gorgeous "Alison," which proved Costello to be one of pop music's best songwriters. Over the next twenty years (and as many albums), Costello shows time and again why he should be mentioned in the same breath as Lennon-McCartney, Brian Wilson, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon as one of pop music's most accomplished songwriters. This 42-track, 90-minute-plus collection is a great place to find that out for yourself. While Costello hasn't put out an essential album since 1982's Imperial Bedroom (and 24 of this collection's tracks come from his 1977-82 period), there is much to enjoy here from his later work as well. The only downside to this collection is Rhino's surprisingly uninformative 16-page booklet. Fully half of the booklet is a repeat of the cover photo--just done in different colors. There are no liner notes or commentary from Costello, just a list of songs and a discography. But the music is all first-rate, and this is an inexpensive way to upgrade your vinyl collection (like me) or to start your collection. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
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