Elvis Costello’s Late Inning Rally, And I Don’t Mean “Night Rally”

Bob Dylan is the exception that so proves the rule that pop artists have golden ages, and once past them, the best you can hope for is a remembrance of things past.  I once was offended when Ira Kaplan told me the Rolling Stones hadn’t put out a really good album since “Exile on Main Street” — this was in 1980, mind you — and notwithstanding the back-to-back delights of “Some Girls” and “Emotional Rescue,” time has proved him right.  So even though I hung in there with Elvis for years, through the fat Elvis, and the bearded Elvis, the Kojak-loving Elvis, even the classical Elvis, the truth is that after “Blood and Chocolate,” it was pretty much a curved road downhill.  Until the surprising “Momofuku” came out earlier this year.

Naturally, this would be the album I’d take a pass on.  Literally, this was the first of his albums I didn’t buy, even the one with the duet with Hall, or maybe it was Oates. And naturally — I discovered to my delight — it’s the best thing he’s done since… well, since “Imperial Bedroom.”  Look, it sounds like it could have been recorded in the Dutch studio where he and the Attractions knocked out “Get Happy.”  It could be a collection of out-takes from “Armed Forces.” Have a friend who knows Elvis but hasn’t hung in there all these years listen to “Go Away, and ask her when it was recorded, and five will get you ten she says “1978,” not “2008.” It’s really that good.

Live, I enjoyed the transition to Elvis Costello and the Imposters a few years ago, but had not realized on this one Steve Nieve was back on the keyboards.  “Momofuku” was recorded in a few weeks, with the story going that Mr. McManus went into the studio without a big plan and… Elvis broke out.  Thank God it did.  Now Elvis gets to move into the same pantheon as Bob Dylan, he being the master of the late career rally.  The Rolling Stones, approximately thirty years without a great album and counting, aren’t even in this league (though their bankers don’t know it.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: