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Spike [Import]

Elvis Costello Audio CD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 31.46
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Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought

Product Details

1. ...This Town...
2. Let Him Dangle
3. Deep Dark Truthful Mirror
4. Veronica
5. God's Comic
6. Chewing Gum
7. Tramp The Dirt Down
8. Stalin Malone
9. Satellite
10. Pads, Paws And Claws
11. Baby Plays Around
12. Miss Macbeth
13. Any King's Shilling
14. Coal-Train Robberies
15. Last Boat Leaving

Product Description


Elvis Costello's Warner Brothers debut saw him shooting for new standards of literacy and sophistication. Leaving behind the raw spleen of Blood and Chocolate, Spike used a multitude of guests and luminaries--Paul McCartney, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, guitarist Marc Ribot--to flesh out wordy, acerbic tales of soldiers and graceless women (for example, the Margaret Thatcher of the enraged "Tramp the Dirt Down"). For many fans, the songs were too artful by half, with knotty arrangements that belied an absence of memorable music. The Beatle-esque hit "Veronica" notwithstanding (a McCartney collaboration), Spike smacked of cleverness on the grand scale. --Barney Hoskyns

Product Description

ELVIS COSTELLO Spike (1989 German 15-track CD album lyric booklet picture sleeve)

Customer Reviews

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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Audio CD
I remember being completely bowled over when this album came out, to the point that I wedged "Veronica" onto the radio station playlist I worked for at the time and giving copies of the CD to a whole mess of people on my Holiday Gift list that year. In the dozen years since its original release, my appreciation of "Spike" has not diminished in the least.
Stylistically (and from the liner notes, geographically) all over the map, it holds together almost on the sheer force of the songwriting. Freed from Sony/CBS, he embarked on a record that was easily as ambitious as "Imperial Bedroom," but this time with a greater cast of players. "This Town," the disc's opener, featured Paul McCartney playing a trademark propulsive bass line and Roger McGuinn on his 12 String Rickenbacker. It kicks the album off with a bitter rant worthy of the trinity of Elvis' first three albums and a classic...
But that kind of bitterness is nothing compared to "Tramp The Dirt Down," quite simply the angriest, harshest anti-Thatcher rant ever laid to tape. It is also, oddly enough, set to a gorgeous arrangement that includes Irish fiddles, pipes and a bouzouki. It may also be the saddest song EC has ever recorded. "God's Comic," in comparison, is almost cinematic in its scope and nearly as marvelously arranged. "God's Comic" is as wickedly sly in its humor as "Tramp The Dirt Down" is critically indicting.
Oh yes, and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band made "Spike" field such marvelous curves in "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror," "Stalin Malone," and the aforementioned referenced Sousaphone on "Chewing Gum." New Orleans piano legend Allen Toussaint's playing on "Mirror" is one of the many of "Spike's" instrumental highlights.
Of the six CD's Elvis recorded for the WB, "Spike" was the best.
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4.0 out of 5 stars One of his most interesting albums... Sept. 26 2003
Format:Audio CD
Like many others, I was utterly confused the first time I heard this album. It covers so many different styles and it is nowhere near as focused as Elvis' earlier work. At it's worst, it has some interesting, yet rather aimless, musical experiments. This is the case with Stalin Malone and a few other tracks. But when it's good, it's really good. God's Comic, Let Him Dangle, This Town, Tramp The Dirt Down, Veronica, and Mirror are all among the best songs he's ever recorded. It's certainly enough to forgive some of the album's weaker points. If you're into Elvis, this is must buy. If you are new to his music, you would definitely be better off with earlier recordings like Get Happy and Armed Forces. This is a very experimental album, but it has some of the best songs you'll ever hear. Give it a listen and approach it with an open mind.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Getting better with age Sept. 5 2002
Format:Audio CD
I enjoyed Spike when it first came out in the late eighties, but then lost interest in it. It shuffled to the backwaters of my collection and was on deck a couple of times for re-sale. I'm glad it never made it to the used CD shop. I've recently given this a couple spins and have rediscovered a fine album. Spike features some of Elvis' best arrangements and most pungent lyrics (no small feat). Stylistically all over the map, this is not an easy disk to digest, but several tracks such as Let Him Dangle, Tramp Down the Earth and God's Comic are true classics of Costellian proportions. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band adds spice to the affair, while Marc Ribot(guitar) and Micheal Blair(percussion) add a Tom Waits-like flavor. While I do not have the version with the bonus disk, I'm sure that it contains some items of mild interest. Get it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Driving In The Spike April 17 2002
Format:Audio CD
1989's Spike was Elvis Costello's first release for Warner Brothers and on it he collaborated with another famous English songwriter, Paul McCartney. It is an interesting team because it reminds one of the Lennon-McCartney team with Mr. Costello playing the cynical, vicious side to Mr. McCartney's optimistic, upbeat side. The first song they team up on is "Veronica" which became Mr. Costello's biggest hit in the U.S. The song is a look at Alzheimer's Disease but it's dark subject matter is masked by a bright and catchy melody (obviously Mr. McCartney's influence). Their second song is a bit of a throwaway, "Pads, Paws & Claws". Mr. McCartney also shows up on the album's opener, "...This Town", playing some great bass. The two continued the partnership on Mr. McCartney's Flowers In The Dirt album. The rest of Spike is a fine release including the acidic "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror", "God's Comic", "Tramp The Dirt Down" and "Any King's Shilling".
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5.0 out of 5 stars Revisiting an underrated gem... Sept. 21 2001
Format:Audio CD
First, some context: Although I was familiar with a few (but not many) of Elvis's previous singles, "Spike" is the first of his records that I bought, and has consequently become my comparison benchmark for the rest of his catalog. Prior to this record, I had a vague assumption that I didn't care for Elvis Costello, so winning me over was job one. But after hearing "Veronica" on the radio, seeing a televised acoustic performance of "Let Him Dangle" and going to a play that employed "God's Comic" as an opening mood-setter, I took the chance. And what a payoff!
It has always mystified me that the same sonic disparity that critics had decided marked "Imperial Bedroom" as a great record was largely considered a liability on this record. The arrangements here always seem to support the songs well; giving an understated, folk-protest feel to the acerbic anti-Thatcher diatribe "Tramp The Dirt Down"; bluesy piano for the superb "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror"; spare, nervous bursts of noise on "Pads, Paws & Claws" (one of two songs co-written with Paul McCartney on the record); or the all-out studio gloss of "Satellite" and the aforementioned "Veronica." It never feels as if a horn section was added superfluously, or an orchestra was thrown in simply because he had the budget for it. The songwriting is top-notch, and the arrangements are judiciously eclectic.
My only real criticism of the proper album is rather nit-picky: it's so long that the last three songs have always felt like some sort of extended post-script. The songs are fine when I listen to them, but they've never sunk into my subconscious the way the rest of the album has.
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