Thursday, July 15, 2010

Keep your finger on important issues

I thought I’d follow up on the Elvis Costello discussion by (of course) ranking his albums and in the spirit of Jim’s post also listing the best and worst tracks from each. I didn’t include Almost Blue since it’s all covers and also very little past Spike because I just don’t know them well enough (except for The Delivery Man).

And really, how the hell did it take us so long to have an Elvis conversation?

1) Trust. Best song: Watch Your Step. Worst song: Shot with His Own Gun. Depending on the day you might be able to get me to say Strict Time is the best song here. Or New Lace Sleeves. Or get the idea.

2) Imperial Bedroom. Best song: Beyond Belief. Worst song: Shabby Doll. I am coming around to the idea that Beyond Belief could be his very best song.

3) Taking Liberties. Best song: (I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea. Worst song: Wednesday Week. Yeah, it’s a compilation of b-sides but I think that top to bottom it is probably the disc I’ve listened to most over the years. Night Rally is really solid as well.

4) My Aim Is True. Best song: Watching the Detectives. Worst song: Pay It Back.

5) Get Happy!!. Best song: Opportunity. Worst song: New Amsterdam. Riot Act is a really close second for best here.

6) Armed Forces. Best song: Party Girl. Worst song: Goon Squad.

7) This Year’s Model. Best song: Pump It Up. Worst song: Little Triggers.

8) The Delivery Man. Best song: Bedlam. Worst song: Needle Time. This was such a nice surprise.

9) Punch the Clock. Best song: Everyday I Write the Book. Worst song: The World and His Wife.

10) Blood & Chocolate. Best song: I Want You. Worst song: Crimes of Paris.

11) Out of Our Idiot. Best song: American Without Tears No. 2. Worst song: Shoes Without Heels. Another compilation of random stuff is hit or miss, but the best here is better than the original version on King of America.

12) King of America. Best song: Brilliant Mistake. Worst song: Poisoned Rose. Yeah Marcy, I know you love it, and it’s OK but nowhere near my favorite.

13) Spike. Best song: Veronica. Worst song: God’s Comic. I remember playing this a lot when it came out, now looking back on it there is just not a ton that I want to hear again.

14) Goodbye Cruel World. Best song: Inch By Inch. Worst song: Love Field.

15) The Juliet Letters. Best song: Jacksons, Monk & Rowe. Worst song: everything else. I just listed this because I do think Jacksons, Monk & Rowe is a really great song.

As always, feel free to argue! You’ll be wrong, but it's fun to talk.


  1. I had a cassette tape of Taking Liberties and it was my intro to EC and My Funny Valentine. I love that album but since it wasn't a proper studio album I didn't want to pick the best or the worst from there. Just didn't seem right.

    Never cared for Goon Squad, but always loved the image of a girl pulling a little trigger with her tongue. I know, I know, it's a metaphor, but it's still a neat, if not necessarily physically comfortable thought. Wait, what does the trigger stand for.

  2. I'm speaking of Little Triggers there.

  3. So, I’m charting my 5 top played albums. I definitely had an Elvis Costello period. Hmmmm, how did Blood and Chocolate and Imperial Bedroom get so much play time when they came out the same year? No wonder my boyfriend groused.

    1. Imperial Bedroom (1982). Best song: Beyond Belief. Worst song: Man Out of Time. (easily my least favorite of the glory years)..

    2. King of America (1986). Best Song: Indoor Fireworks, Worst Song: Don’t Let me Be Misunderstood (zzzzz)

    3. Armed Forces (1979): Best Song: Party Girl (but lots of love for Oliver’s Army and Mood For Moderns), Worst Song: Goon Squad (dumb)

    4. Punch the Clock (1983). Best song: The Greatest Thing (When I was in college, I would play this song before going out. Ya know, get my swagger on). Worst song: Shipbuilding (zzzz)

    5. Blood and Chocolate (1986): Best Song: I Want You, Worst Song: Tokyo Storm Warning (zzzzz)

  4. In my first draft of this I had Indoor Fireworks as my fave off of King of America as well.

    I had forgotten the lyric to Little Triggers. But it doesn't appear to be one of the most cryptic metaphors based on your recollection....

  5. So I thought I would do a best and worst of each Elvis Costello album fairly quickly. I would just need to listen to each one and pick. But he's one of those artists that when I listen to the album I listen to the whole album start to finish, no skipping, no shuffling. It's weird. I definitely have favorite parts of the album, but it's hard to figure out what the worst songs are. One of them has to be worst, right? Not so bad that I would take it off, but one I can point at and say,"That very good song is not as very good as the other very good songs."

    That turns out to be more difficult to say than I thought it would be. I'm still working at it.


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