Album: When I Was Cruel
In 2002, Elvis brought Pete Thomas and Steve Nieve back into the fold, added Cracker’s Davey Faragher on bass, and christened the result “The Imposters.”
It was a savvy move, allowing him to play with two of the guys who helped give him a lifetime pass without having the bear the full weight of the name “Elvis Costello & The Attractions.”
Album: Brutal Youth
After Bruce Thomas’s book and Elvis’s response, you probably figured that Elvis would never record with The Attractions again, but instead, they regrouped and recorded two last albums: 1994’s Brutal Youth and 1996’s All This Useless Beauty.
At the time, I remember enjoying the former and not enjoying the latter. In fact, I don’t remember a single thing about All This Useless Beauty, which I think goes to the problem I ultimately had with both records.
Album: Mighty Like a Rose
Rule #1 about pissing off a great songwriter: don’t. I mean, they’re just going to write a nasty song about you, so why even bother?
And given that he’d probably seen it happen countless times, Bruce Thomas knew that he was playing with fire when he wrote a bunch of unflattering things about Elvis in his 1990 memoir, The Big Wheel.
After releasing 11 studio albums in 9 years — not to mention various singles, compilation tracks, non-album b-sides, live EPs and gods knows what else — Elvis Costello did something that was unthinkable: he took three years between albums.
Even at the time, it was clear that the early, funny phase of his career was over, as both the time off, the new label and the actual sound of Spike were dead giveaways that Elvis Costello wanted to continue to expand his music.
Album: Blood & Chocolate
Because it starts with a quiet “Elvis snuck into the studio in the middle of the night and recorded a drunken verse before falling asleep” and ends in a whisper cum death rattle, it’s easy to forget that “I Want You” has more going on than Elvis Costello repeating “I want you” 600,000 times.
OK, that’s really not true: it’s pretty much all Elvis Costello repeating “I want you” 600,000 times.