Monday, July 21, 2008

Elvis Costello 13: Out Of Our Idiot

Having parted ways with Columbia in the US, Elvis took an extended break from recording. His only release in this period was a sequel of sorts to Taking Liberties—or more accurately, to Ten Bloody Marys & Ten How’s Your Fathers, as it was only released in the UK. Out Of Our Idiot collected seventeen singles, strays and sundry (21 on the CD) from the eighties, and winkingly credited the collection to “Various Artists”, given the different band permutations and pseudonyms that had performed on the tracks. Collectors already had most of these songs, but to the new initiate, the album provided a well-needed Costello fix in the drought that followed the stellar one-two punch of 1986.
The music runs the gamut from straight rock ‘n soul with the Attractions to the subdued country of the Confederates, with a few odd covers from the disparate pens of Burt Bacharach, Smokey Robinson, Richard Thompson and Yoko Ono in between. Highlights included such terrific B-sides as “Turning The Town Red”, “Black Sails In The Sunset” (recorded for Trust and buried for six years) and from the King Of America period, “Shoes Without Heels”, “The People’s Limousine” and “Baby’s Got A Brand New Hairdo”. “Big Sister” and “Blue Chair” were early drafts later retooled for album tracks, while “American Without Tears #2 (Twilight Version)” is a sequel of sorts.
Today all but two of the Idiot songs are spread across the Rykodisc and Rhino versions of Get Happy!!, Trust, Imperial Bedroom, Punch The Clock, Goodbye Cruel World, King Of America and Blood & Chocolate. (None appear on the 2007 Hip-O reissues.) “A Town Called Big Nothing” was not included in the Rhino rollout, and “Little Goody Two Shoes”, a chaotic but fun outtake from Imperial Bedroom, appears nowhere else. (The album was eventually released as a digital download in September 2008, bringing those rare tracks back within legal reach.)

Elvis Costello Out Of Our Idiot (1987)—4
Current CD availability: none; download only

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