Elvis Costello & The Attractions/Almost Blue

It is impossible to try and encapsulate the career of Elvis Costello in a few sentences or paragraphs. This has always been a very favorite Costello release of mine, and at the time, largely rumoured to be his last. Released in 1981, this CD  consists of all Country covers, including Hank Williams,  George Jones, Merle Haggard and Gram Parsons. This has long been a favorite release of mine, and one of the most intriguing recordings from Costello.

Why Don’t You Love Me Like You Used To—-Featuring some of the best rock-a-billy of the day, Costello delivers a vocal that is a nice mix of alt-country and folk. This is incredible in it’s ability to cross over and still keep the attention of the fans that were reeling with this release.

Sweet Dreams—-With a twang that can tear your heart out, Costello delivers a magnificent cover of the Country classic. The slow seductive whine of the guitar and the long, overly drawn out country drawl of the vocal equal a classic. This is heart-breaking and aching in vocal delivery. Who would have thought……?

Success—-With a rock-a-billy sound and the required country guitar whine, Costello enters with a country twang that makes you believe he has been in Nashville for years. This is an incredible and classic cover of a classic that remains my favorite all of these years later. Superb!!

I’m Your Toy—-A countrified cover of the Gram Parsons classic, Costello gives the song a flair and enunciation that is only his. The band is a classic ensemble of country aficionados that rarely go wrong. This is bleeding heart country at it’s best. C;mon Elvis, give us a great part 2.

Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down—-A great cover of the Haggard original. It is easy to buy into the story, as Costello has a way with his voice that takes you back to the whiny days of country. The band is incredible in sound and retains all of the required old country flavor.

Brown To Blue—-From the onset of this song, the casual listener would never know that Costello was not a seasoned Country artist. The delivery is solid and consistent with the old Country twang. The band delivers an incredible 70’s delivery that is warm and Kentucky in feel. This is classic stuff….don’t miss out on this.

Good Year For The Roses—-A tried and true country classic, George Joneswould find it difficult to match the emotion in Costello’s vocal. A whole lot of people really hated this record, but to this day it remains my favorite….and this is a perfect example why….not any artist could do something like this and do it half as well. This is classic alt-country stuff that should not be missed.

Sittin’ And Thinkin’—-Not a favorite track of mine from this release, but let it be known the band is top notch. Costello is a little raspy which fits this mood well, but the faster country sound is not suited to him. Not a throwaway track, but not a favorite of mine.,

Color Of The Blues—-When you hear tracks like this, you can almost believe that Costello was made to sing this stuff. His vocal is so emotive and powerful, the country flair is erased with a feeling of pain and sorrow instead. This is classic Country with an Alt feel even before anyone knew such a thing was possible. Fantastic!!!

Too Far Gone—-Costello again dives headfirst into a song that is full of angst and heartache with a sound that is true and not the least bit contrived. I love how the band wraps itself around the vocal and makes the song belong to the vocalist. Wonderful!!!

Honey Hush—-My least favorite track on this release, the track is too bluesy and rock-a-billy for me. I prefer my country syrupy sweet and hurtful. This is a little to Elvis/Little Richard for me.

How Much I Lied—-Piano based and not as country in sound as previous tracks, Costello delivers a vocal that is classic and almost heart warming. The emotion is the simple vocal is over powering and comforting, This is a classic track and should be investigated by you if you are reading this review.

**** out of 5


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