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When I Was Cruel

Elvis CostelloAudio CD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (144 customer reviews)

Price: $9.34 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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MP3 Music, 15 Songs, 2002 $9.49  
Audio CD, 2002 $9.34  
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Audio Cassette, 2002 --  

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
listen  1. 45 3:33$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Spooky Girlfriend 4:22$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Tear Off Your Own Head ( It's A Doll Revolution) 3:31$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  4. When I Was Cruel No.2 7:06$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Soul For Hire 3:55$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. 15 Petals 4:01$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Tart 4:03$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Dust 2 ... 3:21$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Dissolve 2:23$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen10. Alibi 6:42$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen11. ...Dust 3:04$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen12. Daddy Can I Turn This? 3:41$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen13. My Little Blue Window 3:10$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen14. Episode Of Blonde 5:03$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen15. Radio Silence 4:58$0.99  Buy MP3 

Amazon's Elvis Costello Store


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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

Visit Amazon's Elvis Costello Store
for 184 albums, 6 photos, videos, discussions, and more.

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When I Was Cruel + Momofuku + The Delivery Man
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 23, 2002)
  • Original Release Date: 2002
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Island
  • ASIN: B000063526
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (144 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,516 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description


Following a string of tasteful but sometimes bloodless collaborations with Sophie Van Otter, Bill Frisell, and the London Symphony Orchestra, Costello delivers his most visceral and satisfying CD in years with When I Was Cruel. Reunited with half the Attractions, Pete Thomas and Steve Nieve, Costello sticks relatively close to the sharp new-wave melodies that sealed his reputation in the late '70s and '80s, but infuses them with powerful sonic touches: a hypnotic loop of Italian pop singer Mina that carries the title track, the melodica that casts an eerie glow over "Soul for Hire," and the frenetic, klezmer-inspired horns that drive "15 Petals." Costello's guitar is frequently drenched in tremolo, and his lyrical wit hasn't been this consistently spiky and unforced since Blood & Chocolate. Compared to some of his more uptown adventures, When I Was Cruel may seem at first a kind of semi-nostalgic slumming, but the opposite may be the case: like Woody Allen, Costello is at his most artful when he produces perfect pop trifles that will almost certainly outlast his more self-conscious "serious" work. --Keith Moerer

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Years Model (not "This Year's Model"!) April 23, 2002
Format:Audio CD
A lot of ink has been devoted to harking Elvis's return to the substance (if not the style) of his early triumphs, My Aim Is true and This Years Model, with this release. While both of those albums are rightfully viewed as classics, it's great to hear Elvis update his sound while maintaining his edge.
Working with Leo Pearson (U2, various electronica artists), and a number of members of the Attractions, EC has cut an album that rocks with the biting wit that has been his trademark for the past 25 years. It's a welcome addition to his catalogue, and it's a real fun album to listen to. It's also a welcome relief from the collaborative projects that have occupied his time over the last few years.
Elvis is at his best on a number of tunes on this disc. "Tear Your Own Head Off" has some blistering guitar work, and is the best song from the late seventies to be recorded in years. "Soul For Hire" has some deep, ominous sonic textures at work, much like "Watching The Detectives" (allthough it is not reggae-based). There is great use of horns on a number of tracks, particularly "Episode of Blonde". And "When I Was Cruel NO. 2" sounds like a Portishead tune, particularly with its eerie samples and tape loops. It's not something you'd expect from Elvis, but then again, his introduction of the unexpected has generally made for the best tunes on his many projects (the 50's style organ on "The Beat" comes to mind).
This album ranks right up there with "My Aim Is True", and more importantly "This Year's Model" in terms of wrenching tunefulness. Fortunately it is a breakthrough, as opposed to a revival. It's nice to hear an artist who knows what sounds work best for him, and take that to a new level. I hope Joe Jackson listens to this record and tries a similar path.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
Costello ended the 20th century with PAINTED FROM MEMORY and his cover of "She," and many people thought he had lost his edge. It was yet another unpredictable turn from a man who had long ago proved that he was not going to be pigeonholed as just another "punk rocker." And while the work with Bachrach was in many ways another artistic triumph, one couldn't help but fear that the days of Blood & Chocolate were long gone.
Last year, he as much as confirmed this with his gentle and nuanced album with Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie Von Otter. Surely, this was the end of the thrash and noise of youth-- it was time to settle down and write symphonies and such...
Cut to 2002. WHEN I WAS CRUEL is Costello's return to the world of "rowdy" music, and yet it isn't a return at all. Some of it may feel like Blood & Chocolate's next door neighbor, but the sound is all brand new. This album is darker and funnier, playful and apocalyptic, like a mix of Dylan's last two albums thrown in a stew with a car full of clowns and some Ethiopian pop songs. Lazy critics will say he's "back and he's angry", but there aren't any songs of spiteful lovers here-- the concerns are more worldly and viewed with a spiky wit that gurgles just below the sonic soup.
WHEN I WAS CRUEL is the kind of album that is so good you can't help but hunger for what he's going to do next, be it pop, country, soul, or classical. But until that next one comes along, there is so much to enjoy here. Turn off the lights, turn up the volume, and howl at the moon...
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Shady Voiced Shark From Jurassic Park July 11, 2002
Format:Audio CD
There's nothing worse than being a pop dinosaur like, say, Robert Plant. Once you've managed to outgrow the style that made your career, in so many sound-bytes, where in the world do you go with the gains? Like Paul Simon, Joe Jackson, Pete Townshend, John Waters, Stevie Winwood, Paul McCartney and dozens of other performers who have discovered that the visitation of middle age upon their careers is often fatal, Elvis Costello entered a period of intensive experimentation in the early 1990s. This isn't anything particularly new, nor is it all that unusual. When his career began to enter the underworld of rarefied taste, and his growth as a musician and songwriter demanded that he free himself from the relative constraints that in the early 1980s gained him one of the most loyal fan bases of any pop performer since the 1960s, Costello collaborated with string quartets, even co-wrote with Burt Bacharach, trying hard to glean from his obvious talent something more enduring and personally satisfying than musically hanging out with teenagers amd teeny-boppers for the rest of his life. Of course, growing up alongside your original audience is more difficult than it might seem, and though Costello's ambitious experiments were critically well-received, and sometimes even lauded for their expansiveness and beauty, "When I Was Cruel"--a conscious return to the roots of a seminal career--reveals there is still vitriol in the rocker with the shady voice. And that's a good thing. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
I bought it for one song....and it was worth it
Published 6 days ago by Michael C. Mccafferty
5.0 out of 5 stars Elvis I am sorry I ever doubted you
I was a huge fan of his early years with the attractions, but (like many) my interest waned as he started collaborating with string quartets, Burt Bacharach, etc. Read more
Published 4 months ago by lightsource
5.0 out of 5 stars In my top10
Love this album, never get tired of listening to it after years of high repeat. It will remain I am sure in my Top 10 of all time.

Why is this? Read more
Published 4 months ago by Sarah Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars complex and beautiful music
I love Elvis Costello and have many of his albums. This is my current favorite. I could listen to it over and over. It's very different.
Published 15 months ago by Jamie
3.0 out of 5 stars "There's a Rebel in a Nylon Shirt..."
After spending the time between 1996 and 2002 recording side projects and classical arrangements, Elvis Costello was finally itching to get loud and rowdy once more. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Lunar Boulevard
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
After making specialized albums with Burt Bacharach, Bill Frisell, everyone under the sun, it feels, Elvis went back to his Attactions for When I was Cruel: a return to the... Read more
Published on December 13, 2009 by Bill Your 'Free Form FM Print DJ
5.0 out of 5 stars A Non-Fan's Perspective (New Fan's Perspective?)
I'd never really heard Costello growing up in the 70s and 80s, so thought I'd better educate myself one day and picked up "When I Was Cruel". The title looked cool.. Read more
Published on March 1, 2008 by Green Manalishi
5.0 out of 5 stars I thought he was done
I was a big EC fan from early on. Maybe I didn't keep up with him, I admit.

But then I heard "when I was cruel, no.2".

This man is beyond genius. Read more
Published on November 30, 2006 by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars Elvis Is Dead
It pains me to say that Declan McManus (his real name) no longer has the chops to fill an album with hits. Read more
Published on April 7, 2006 by Nick Young
4.0 out of 5 stars Will The REAL Elvis C. Please Stand Up?
Hey, wait a minute; I remember this guy. Didn't he sing that song about "Alison"? And something about radio and wanting to bite the hand that feeds him? Read more
Published on March 17, 2006 by Thomas D. Ryan
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