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National Ransom

3.8 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Audio CD, November 2, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

2010 album from the veteran British singer/songwriter. National Ransom was recorded in a total of eleven days at Sound Emporium, Nashville and Village Recorders, Los Angeles and was produced by T Bone Burnett and engineered and mixed by Michael Piersante at Electromagetic, Los Angeles. All of these songs are newly composed by Costello with the exception of "I Lost You," co-written with Jim Lauderdale and "All These Strangers," for which Costello and T Bone Burnett collaborated on the lyrics. Costello and Burnett also provide the lyrics for "My Lovely Jezebel," a Leon Russell Rock 'n' Roll tune . All members of the Imposters and Sugarcanes appear on the album along with guests Vince Gill, Marc Ribot, Buddy Miller and Leon Russell.
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Digital Booklet: National Ransom
Digital Booklet: National Ransom
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 2, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Hear Music
  • ASIN: B003ZDZ1XK
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,607 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Amazon's Elvis Costello Store

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
"National Ransom," the latest release from Elvis Costello, is musically tasteful and lyrically sophisticated. In short, Elvis really assembled this one well.

A Whitman's Sampler of styles, "National Ransom" takes the listener on a sonic trip: edgy rock, New Orleans jazz, acoustic jazz, country, ballads, blues ... even a detour back to the "Attractions" days. Yes, for all you longtime Elvis fans, "Alison" could be slipped onto this disc and would blend in.

But it doesn't stop there. From the country churns ("That's Not the Part of Him You're Leaving" and "I Lost You") to the Victrola waltzes ala Leon Redbone ("You Hung the Moon") Elvis' voice hasn't sounded better.

Like acoustic guitar? "A Slow Drag With Josephine" is spot on, complete with mandolins and whistling -- echoes of Ry Cooder.

"Jimmie Standing in the Rain" -- a melancholy night in the French Quarter.

"Bullets For the New-Born King" -- Which is more poetic? The lyrics or the silky acoustic guitar. You decide.

"National Ransom" is a monster step up from Elvis' previous album, "Secret, Profane & Sugarcane," which housed a lot of mediocre and forgettable tunes.

Meandering cleverly through the various genres, "National Ransom" is Elvis at what is perhaps his creative peak.
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Format: Audio CD
Elvis Costello has a lot of different sides, a lot of different interests. When a new release comes out, you gotta wonder what you are going to get--will it be straight ahead rockers with a dash of humor? Will it be sophistipop with elaborate arrangements ala Burt Bacharach? Will he collaborate with a string quartet on one of the most ambitious albums by a rock musician ever? Will he re-interpret classic pop tunes with an opera Diva? Will he give us smoky jazz? I love all the possibilities, and bought this sound unheard. I have to say, wow, it is all and none of those things, and it is great!

Elvis digs deep into all of his past work--his lyrics are sophisticated, humorous, touching. He shines on his melodies--catchy yet not obvious. INstrumentation is tight, and it feels like he has lived these songs for a while. Instrumentation is straightforward, but feels very full and well orchestrated.

As I listened to the album, I could feel some influence from the southern US--pickers, some jazzy chord changes, even a little dixie jazz feel in places.

Listen, if you like Elvis Costello, if you are one of the faithful who has stuck by him in all his many incarnations, then this is a no-brainer. Buy it now. If you are a relapsed fan, this is a great place to jump back in--the album is approachable, beautiful, fun, and artistically impressive. If you've never listened to Elvis Costello before, you've got a great set of treats to pick up. You're going to want to pick up some of his older albums as well, but this is a fantastic into to the quirky, fascinating, multigenre spanning talent of Elvis.

Get it. I can't wait to buy another copy to give away!
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Since this is now the the third time I'm buying this CD (I gave the other two copies away to friends and said "listen to this! this is a great CD!") I thought I should write a review.

I've listened to EC since the late 70s and along the way loved a lot of what he's done. And I'll always buy whatever he puts out, but sometimes I listen once and that's it.

Past "classics" (in more recent times) I think were Brutal Youth and When I Was Cruel (and yeah I even liked (a lot) the Burt Bachrach collaboration). But in recent years things like North, The Delivery Man and River in Reverse didn't grab me. But you have to give this guy respect because he's always trying to do something different on each record.

So then I gave this one a listen and after more and more listens I liked it more and more. Yeah there's a track or two you can skip over (Stations of the Cross, for example). But the melodies and especially the lyrics are great (one of the best things about his songwriting is just well-written lyrics!).

To me the most interesting aspects of this record are two things: one is that a number of tunes are really just him and an acoustic guitar (and maybe a sparse background). Things like "Bullets..." I think are great. The other is that the types of songs are very different. The first tune is a straightforward tune, a lot like things he's done in the past -- but still good and great lyrics. Then he does some things that are country -- The Part of Him You're Leaving is another great example of just a well written song and also one of my favorites. And then there's a couples of tunes that sound like they came straight out of the 1920s (30s? 40s?) songbook (e.g. Voice in the Dark) -- but I really like them as well. So it's got quite a variety of different kinds of music on it.

So this one gets a strong recommendation from me (strong enough to write this review, which I pretty much never do for any records).
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Format: Audio CD
Elvis Costello's new CD "National Ransom" is produced by T-Bone Burnet and sees him traipsing through Blues, Rock, Jazz and even Country. Backed by his regular touring band The Imposters, as well as a few guests like Vince Gill and Leon Russell. The rocking Blues title track opens the album, followed by the Ragtime "Jimmie Standing In The Rain" which tells the story of a failed music-hall singer getting drenched in the rain at a Lancashire train station.

Each of the album's 16 tracks is special so I'll just pick on a few to highlight. The woozy enthralling "Stations Of The Cross", "A Slow Drag With Josephine" is acoustic Folk, "Five Small Words" is bouncy Country with quivering guitars, "Church Underground" is Bluesy Pop (with snarling vocals and guitars), the slow shuffling Jazzy "You Hung The Moon", the Folk/Blues "Dr. Watson, I Presume", the acoustic "One Bell Ringing", and the vaudeville "A Voice In The Dark".

"National Ransom" is like a well stocked jukebox which ticks all the right boxes.
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