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Japanese only SHM-CD (Super High Material CD - playable on all CD players) pressing. Warner.
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
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
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. Read morePublished on Sept. 26 2003 by Aaron Collins
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... Read morePublished on Sept. 5 2002 by S. Finefrock
"Spike" is a real potpourri of styles laced with cynicism and wit. There's some light pop fare here as well as some experimental stuff. Read morePublished on Sept. 4 2001 by Scott T Mc Nally
This is a very underrated record. The songs are just so different and so powerful. This is a CD you have to listen to. Read morePublished on Aug. 23 2001
This is a great album. Period. I first heard it when I was 15 and loved it, and I like it even more now that my musical tastes have matured. Read morePublished on Aug. 22 2001 by Seth Hanson