Elvis Costello

All This Useless Beauty - Warner Brothers - 1996

Tracks: 1. The Other End Of The Telescope / 2. Little Atoms / 3. All This Useless Beauty / 4. Complicated Shadows / 5. Why Can't A Man Stand Alone? / 6. Distorted Angel / 7. Shallow Grave / 8. Poor Fractured Atlas / 9. Starting To Come To Me / 10. You Bowed Down / 11. It's Time / 12. I Want To Vanish // 1. Almost Ideal Eyes / 2. My Dark Life / 3. That Day Is Done / 4. What Do I Do Now? / 5. The Bridge I Burned / 6. It's Time / 7. Complicated Shadows / 8. You Bowed Down / 9. Mistress And Maid / 10. Distorted Angel / 11. World's Greatest Optimist / 12. The Only Flame In Town / 13. The Comedians / 14. The Days Take Care Of Everything / 15. Hidden Shame / 16. Why Can't A Man Stand Alone / 17. Distorted Angel


As shown in Elvis Costello's detailed notes to the album, it's genesis was unusual, with multiple complications . The songs were also written over several years, but all of this I will not go any further into, but concentrate on the actual final musical performance; In this case, the extended version of the album with no less than 17 bonus tracks put on a second CD.

Generally appears Costello inspired, not least when compared with some of his albums released in 1980s. I think the rocking numbers and upbeat tracks work best. In particular, "You Bowed Down", which Costello wrote for Roger McGuinn, Stands out positively. The demo version which is on CD 2 is also very nice. The song sounds like a Byrds number, both in arrangement and melody.

"Complicated Shadows" is nearly as strong; the song sounds like a Tom Petty number, mind you, when Petty is at his best.

Some of the ballads are a little too pompous for my taste; favorite among these are "Poor Fractured Atlas" and "Distorted Shadow" which has little of the early Costello approach over it.

Among the bonus tracks, I think especially the remix of "Distorted Angel" is exciting. All in all, this is a very varied collection of songs, both in genre and expression.

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