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Elvis Costello - Spike Click here to see this CD at!

By Rickey Wright

Even with records as diverse as Get Happy!!, Almost Blue, and Imperial Bedroom preceding it, you could call Spike the beginning of Elvis Costello's super-eclectic period. The 1989 disc, here augmented wit h an hour's worth of inspired demos and B-sides, offered everything from the bed rock New Orleans sounds of Allen Toussaint and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band to clanging rockabilly, Paul McCartney collaborations (including the sparkling pop hit "Veronica"), and a jazz-ballad standard in the making ("Baby Plays Around" ). And that's only the half of it. As Costello relates in new liner notes, he ha d ideas for several records: "I seem to have elected to make all five albums at once." Such a thing could've gone precious way fast, but nerve, imagination, tunes, and a double dose of anger assured that it didn't. A broadside or three on t he state of England and the world also made Spike hardly less bilious than This Year's Model. (Try the coldly mournful "Tramp the Dirt Down" or the skronking, Marc Ribot-assisted "Let Him Dangle.") Heard seemingly everywhere in its day, it deserves the fresh listens this reissue will occasion.

1. ...This Town17. ...This Town (demo)
2. Let Him Dangle18. Deep Dark Truthful Mirror (demo)
3. Deep Dark Truthful Mirror19. Coal Train Robberies (demo)
4. Veronica20. Satellite (demo)
5. God's Comic21. Pads, Paws And Claws (demo)
6. Chewing Gum22. Let Him Dangle (demo)
7. Tramp The Dirt Down23. Veronica (demo)
8. Stalin Malone24. Tramp The Dirt Down (demo)
9. Satellite25. Baby Plays Around (demo)
10. Pads, Paws And Claws26. Put Your Big Toe In The Milk Of Human Kindness (demo)
11. Baby Plays Around27. Last Boat Leaving (demo)
12. Miss Macbeth28. The Ugly Things
13. Any King's Shilling29. You're No Good
14. Coal-Train Robberies30. Point Of No Return
15. Last Boat Leaving31. The Room Nobody Lives In
16. Miss Macbeth (demo)32. Stalin Malone (vocal version)


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"Spike's 'Tramp the Dirt Down' is the single most powerful song I have ever had the privilege of hearing. I have returned to 'Spike' many times through the years, due principally to this amazing song. In fact, after hearing it, I researched the political history of Margaret Thatcher, who is the main subject of 'Tramp the Dirt Down', and have become much more politically active since then. This song will open your mind. There are also several other very tuneful songs on 'Spike', a solid album all the way around. I recommend it highly."

--Steven Graham

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Artist: Elvis Costello

Released: February 14, 1989

Availability: CD, Vinyl


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