Is it a coincidence that Seattle abounds both in Elvis Costello fans and in guys who look vaguely like Elvis Costello? No. As David Lee Roth once observed, rock critics like Elvis Costello because they look like him. And when the Great One himself appears at the Paramount on April 12, you can expect a whole lotta nerdy glasses and straw fedoras.
As an owner of both those items, I’ve had my fair share of conversations with fellow Costello fans, and it’s shocking—shocking!—how many of them dismiss his recent work—”recent” meaning anything after 1979’s Armed Forces. Even a lot of those who venture as far as, say, Spike (1989) wouldn’t dream of picking up anything from the past 10 years.
To which I say: You crazy. In terms appropriate to the stupid timely and quite interesting theme of this issue of Reverb, don’t be such fair-weather fans. If you attended more of Elvis’ games, you’d see he still often hits baseball home runs in baseball stadiums. For baseball. A highlight reel of the past decade:
“You Hung the Moon”: A solid triple from National Ransom (2010), this gorgeous, jazzy ballad basks in the full warmth of Elvis’ middle register.
“The Crooked Line”: Defiant, joyful, wise, fun. Elvis at his hootenanny best. A motherfucking home run from Secret, Profane & Sugarcane (2009).
“No Hiding Place”: Crushes it. A pulsating slab of melodic pop from the gloriously ragged Momofuku (2008), it hits with 50 tons of sweetness and another 50 tons of battery acid.
“Either Side of the Same Town” and “There’s a Story in Your Voice”: The Delivery Man (2004) is a rain cancellation of an album with two killer performances: a magisterial torch song worthy of Ray Charles and a brilliant, rowdy sneer-off with Lucinda Williams.
“Still”: There’s not a single dud on the hushed and lovely North (2003). This gorgeous little gem is the best of the bunch.
That’s just for starters. There are whole other decades of great Elvis music to discover. It’s definitely time to join Team Costello. Especially since so many of you are already wearing the uniform.