Born August 25, 1954, Declan Patrick Aloysius McManus aka Elvis Costello turns 49 today. Happy Birthday!!!
Not to put too fine a point on it, Elvis is as accomplished a composer, singer, live performer and record maker as has come out of the rock music tradition. In a quarter century plus of building “Little Palaces,” he has long since having surpassed even the artistic achievement of the dead Elvis.
On top of which, after a quarter century Elvis is still somewhere near the top of his game. He made the album of the year for 2002, When I Was Cruel. Oh, yeah, just a couple of weeks until the new North album comes out. Life is good.
Most musicians are best served in best-of packages. Elvis makes the exception that proves the rule. His albums tend to have strongly developed cohesion in unique styles and theme, and production styles. In addition, he has most often had such high consistency in his songwriting as to have whole albums full of good songs.
Consider this, then, as an Elvis primer. The Elvis Costello neophyte would be best served to start with these ten albums, in this order of discovery:
My Aim Is True
This Year’s Model
King of America
When I Was Cruel
The Juliet Letters
Mighty Like a Rose