Thursday, May 5, 2005

MUSIC: Elvis Costello's "King"

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Like many of us bloggers, I'm an obsessive collector type. I get it from my mother. So it was with a happy little squeal of joy that I opened my package recently containing Elvis Costello's 'King of America' from the Rhino Records 2-CD reissue program. It's the final piece of the puzzle, the last in the 16 classic Costello albums from the 1970s to 1990s re-released in this series, which is top-of-the-line archival remastering work. Each Costello album from "My Aim Is True" on up to "All This Useless Beauty" has been given the royal treatment, with a thick booklet essay by Elvis, the original album, and an entire CD of bonus tracks, demos, live songs and more. Some of the reissues have had as many as 50 songs! If you're a big E.C. fan like I am, it's been like Christmas for the past few years as the reissues have trickled out, 3 at a time or so. (Here's a swell Web site that gives an ultra-complete obsessive amount of info on the program.)

So anyway, 1986's acclaimed "King of America" came this week - the last of the CDs, and also the last "major" Elvis Costello album not counting assorted bootlegs and compilations that I had never heard. I was familiar with many of the tracks on there, of course, such as "Brilliant Mistake" and "Indoor Fireworks," but over my 15-16 years of E.C. fandom, it was one album I'd never bought, and once the reissues began 3-4 years back I figured I'd wait to buy it then. It's great stuff, rootsy and Americana-drenched, with dashes of the experimentalism that would come along on later albums like "Spike" and an underappreciated personal favorite, "Mighty Like A Rose." And I haven't even dipped into the bonus disc yet.

There's something always a little sad about finding the "last" thing to finish a collection, that last book or CD you hadn't had, because once you've got it, the collection is finished (unless you decide to get ultra-crazy and start looking for obscure bootlegs of Elvis' sound check from 1984 in Waldorf, Penn., or something). The "Elvis Costello" section of my CD rack is finished, now, to me - joining the similar David Bowie, Beatles, Pixies and Peter Gabriel sections, a testament to the appeal of having it all, by gum, every little bit of it. More more more more!

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