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Wise Up Ghost (Deluxe) Deluxe Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 106 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Deluxe Edition, September 17, 2013
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Long-rumored and shrouded in mystery, this collaborative album between Elvis Costello and The Roots promises to be one of the most unexpected and surprising releases of 2013. Definitely a situation where the whole is greater than the sum of the amazing parts, this album lives up to all of the intrigue and expectations.

Review

it's a moody, brooding affair, cathartic rhythms and dissonant lullabies. I went stark and dark on the music. Elvis went HAM on some ole Ezra Pound sh*t. --Ahmir ?uestlove Thompson
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 17, 2013)
  • Deluxe Edition edition
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Deluxe Edition
  • Label: Blue Note
  • ASIN: B00D2I8E46
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,003 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Philip R. Heath VINE VOICE on September 17, 2013
Format: MP3 Music
I am far from an expert on Elvis Costello's album catalog, but I have enjoyed the variety in style from what I have sampled. He tackles jazz (North), eclectic rock (Momofuku), and roots/folk (Secret, Profane & Sugarcane) with aplomb. Recently, I saw Wise Up Ghost on the upcoming album list, and I saw that this time he teamed up with The Roots. I am not very familiar with The Roots, but I figured that this was destined to be a funk and soul filled offering.

That is exactly what I found when I started listening to Wise Up Ghost. If you've been to Costello's web site in the last month or so, you've most likely heard the opening track "Walk Us Uptown". It begins over 55 minutes of Costello's biting social commentary backed by grooves from The Roots. I found "Come The Meantimes" to be one of the best displays of the unusual chemistry that this artist pairing produced. The opening bass line on "Refuse To Be Saved" is funky with filthy distortion. Longtime Costello fans should check out "Sugar Won't Work" for some of his vocal harmonies and hooks on the chorus. One of the more interesting tracks is the English/Spanish duet "Cinco Minutos Con Vos" with La Marisoul. Costello channels Guy Garvey from Elbow on the first verse while he returns to himself for verse three and beyond.

If you are an adventurous Elvis Costello fan (is there any other kind?), you must give this a try. Wise Up Ghost works as party music or concentrated solo listening equally well. Uncertain? Head over to Costello's site and listen to "Walk Us Uptown" in its entirety. If you like it, I think you'll enjoy this unique album in its entirety.

Download this: Walk Us Uptown
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
For this long time fan, Costello's aim has been more haphazard than true since he ditched The Attractions. There are exemptions in Brutal Youth (featuring The Attractions) and an underrated When I Was Cruel. But since Spike have felt him as inconsistent, overwrought, self-conscious as he's been intermittently brilliant. Sometimes, all you need is a right hook and a punch line you can feel. As for his collaborations, from Bacharach to Otter to Toussaint---they've all been eye rollers in my book.

That said, it sounds like Costello has finally wised up. Ghost is his most straightforward, least contrived in decades. One would think a pairing with the Roots and their brand of eclectic Hip Hop and Funk would be an awkward one. But if anything, they live up to their moniker by keeping things grounded. The Roots provide an eerie, hypnotic Funk to the proceedings. At times reminiscent of early Beck. Which really doesn't do them justice as they're hardly imitators. Its more sinister cocktail music and laid back Funk than Hip Hop. Despite, his usual brand of vitriol, Costello sounds much more at home and playful here than in the other musical hats he's doffed and juggled. Everybody hates a tourist but as Get Happy proved, R & B and Soul suit Costello far more than any forays south of the Mason Dixon line.

Vocally, this is his most restrained in years. But that restraint doesn't come at the expense of edge. I always felt Costello's lower register was eerily effective on classics like I Want You, Beyond Belief and Almost Blue. Mercifully he's left the cringe inducing Broadway belting at the door. And even if he lacks his usual caustic hectoring, don't expect the crooning claustrophobia of North. This is a far more moody, dark and varied affair.
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26 Comments 68 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Audio CD
For me, this album was a big letdown. I've listened to it about 20 times now and I'm still struggling with it. I've been a big Elvis Costello fan --- but by no means a completist or fanatic --- since his very first album with the Attractions. Plus, I've bought several CDs by the Roots and enjoyed those as well. Thus, I had very high hopes for the teaming of these two outstanding artists.

But as much as I've tried to like this album, wanted to like this album, it's just not happening for me. Very disappointed in the lack of impact that it had on me. Costello's vocals sound fine and the lyrics, even the "recycled" ones, are sharp and memorable. But these songs mostly strike me as lackluster filler. Where are the masterpieces? I sure ain't hearing them on this album. There are a few tracks that I like --- the lovely "Tripwire," the funky "Come the Meantimes," "Viceroy's Row," and the closing track on this CD, the pretty "If I could Believe." But too most of the other songs sound forced, like Elvis and the Roots are trying to hard to make something interesting out of a fairly dull composition.

This album is far from a disaster, but to my ears it doesn't have the creative spark or melodic magic that the best Elvis Costello albums have. And I think any fan of the Roots will be extremely disappointed, if not bewildered, by this pairing. Nice idea on paper, but I don't think it lives up to the hype.
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Although I've never stopped being a fan, many times over the past 20 years, or so, I've wished for better. While Elvis has certainly grown as an artist and widely expanded his musical landscape, it's hard to match the focused brilliance of the early records. This new one may not have the fire of Peace, Love and Understanding, it's the most exciting music he's put on in a long time. Every listen reveals something new, especially if you play it loud. There is so much going on here, a certain volume really helps to hear it all. What a wonderful combination of two different powerhouse entities that seems to have pushed both groups to some of their best work. Thank you, Roots, for offering the possibilities and, thank you, El, for meeting the challenge. I would love to see this live.
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