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All This Useless Beauty

music reviewmusic reviewmusic review  out of 4 Music Review: All This Useless Beauty

Artist: Elvis Costello
Genre: Rock/Pop
Release Date: May 1996

Review by LarryG
3 stars out of 4

Elvis tried a lot of different things in the 90's. He made a cd with a string quartet and one with Burt Bachrach. They were both interesting but Elvis' vocals were a little overmatched by the complicated arrangements. All This Useless Beauty was his best in the 90's because it focused on his greatest strength: his songwriting. He wrote most of the songs for other people but definitely makes them his own. The record is reminiscent of Elvis and the Attractions' classic Imperial Bedroom for the high level of the songwriting and the interesting arrangements. You Bowed Down, originally written for Roger McGuinn, is an bitter, insightful story about two friends who make a pact not to sell out. The Attraction perfectly underline   Elvis' often mischievous tales. Little Atoms is a wry song about Elvis being a playboy and Steve Nieve's piano has an appropriately light touch.  The put down of Starting to Come to Me seems less obnoxious in the frolicsome musical setting. The serious songs work as well. I Want to Vanish, Elvis' reunion with the Brodsky Quartet, has an achingly wistful tone. In all, the songwriting is so strong that, no matter what detours Elvis takes, his career will still be worth watching for years to come.

Here's what others reviewers have to say:

"...the most likable and organic Costello album in years....these tracks arise as modern standards--the '90s answer to the brilliance of the old Brill Building catalog."  3 Stars - Good   Rolling Stone 5/30/96, p.49



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