Tuesday, September 20, 2016

ABCs of My Vinyl Collection (Letter C, Part 25)

Talk about an exercise in futility. How do you choose a handful of singles to pay tribute to one of your heroes when the artist in question has released 62 of them? No joke. Sixty-two. Here are four more randomly selected from my 12" collection. No extended versions, remixes or any of that nonsense. For the most part, these were bought for the B-sides... long before you could get them all tied up in a neat little bonus-track laden CD reissue. Having said that, each of these A-sides are A-plus efforts. I'll let the man of the hour introduce the first one, as written on the back cover of the single:

For those of you who enjoyed our fortnight's excursion into country music here is a highlight from our Albert Hall bash with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, a new arrangement of "I'm Your Toy", by Robert Kirby, plus some dusty sides from our Nashville archive.

Yours blue on blue,
Elvis Costello

'Almost Blue' may not be one of your go-to Costello albums, but the Attractions' rendition of the Flying Burrito Bros.' renamed "Hot Burrito #1" is surely a highlight that makes you pull it off the shelf once in a while. If you have never heard this live take recorded on Jan. 7, 1982, prepare for a shock...

"I'm Your Toy" (Live)
"My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You"
"Blues Keep Calling"
"Honky Tonk Girl"

If 'Almost Blue' was an abrupt right turn, then the 1982 album 'Imperial Bedroom' was just as big a turn to the left. If you want a feel for how much these songs evolved, give this version of "Town Cryer" a try. In much the same way as the early new-wave treatments of the songs that would become 'Get Happy!!' were not quite right, I think you'll find Costello's back to the drawing board approach was a good move here.

"Man Out of Time"
"Town Cryer" (Alternate Version)
"Imperial Bedroom"

Putting it kindly, 'Goodbye Cruel World' is my least favorite Costello album, but he followed it up here with what I think is one of his best... even if it meant the Attractions were about to punch out. That's the Confederates on the A-side and the Attractions on the B-sides.

"Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood"
"Baby's Got a Brand New Hairdo"
"Get Yourself Another Fool"

I'm not much of a fan of 'Mighty Like a Rose,' but this song was an exception. This walk-up single to the album sounded so much like the Attractions the first time I heard it that I thought they must have reunited. "Couldn't Call It Unexpected No. 4" doesn't do much for me, but I was excited to find an old Nick Lowe-penned song from his Brinsley Schwarz days to conclude the B-side.

"The Other Side of Summer"
"Couldn't Call It Unexpected No. 4"
"The Ugly Things"


kevinpat said...

I'll have to spend some time with the music. Because it's Elvis y'know. But initially I love looking at the sleeves. Most of which I never have seen before. Nice!! Looks inviting......Elvis.

charity chic said...

I am in the minority that quite like's Almost Blue
It may feature if and when I revisit Vintage Country Vinyl!

Brian said...
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Brian said...

CC, I'm with you, brother. Looking forward to you playing that one. It's funny to think it took EC to teach me a thing or two about George Jones (and others of his ilk) when the records were already right there under my roof. Perhaps I would have noticed if it wasn't my father playing them.

Kevinpat, Probably not a lot here you don't already know since you're a big fan but it's a nice reminder that EC made killer B-sides. I always thought Taking Liberties was as good an album as all the others from that era. That is one I kept from the Columbia years even though all of the songs appeared as bonus tracks on those new-fangled CDs if for no other reason than I enjoyed the running order.

kevinpat said...

Yes, Brian and I like Out of Our Idiot very much as well!

Brian said...

So good, Kevinpat!

The Swede said...

I think we discussed our favourite EC LP's once before. 'Imperial Bedroom' is top of the heap for me, breathtaking stuff - his Sgt Pepper. 'King of America' & 'Blood & Chocolate' ain't far behind though.

JC said...

With huge apologies for taking so long to write this....

I've three of the four singles you feature here (I'm Your Toy being the exception) and they are all excellent releases, particularly, as you say, many of the b-sides.

There's actually a very good case to be made for someone to dedicate an entire free-standing blog to the singles and albums released over the years in whatever guise Elvis Costello has recorded. Maybe something I'll tackle when I retire from work....but that's still some way off (I'd probably also need to put T(n)VV on an extended vacation too in order to do it justice).

Great stuff Brian.