- Audio CD (Sept. 16 2003)
- Number of Discs: 2
- Label: Rhino-Atlantic
- ASIN: B0000B1A5U
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Audio Cassette | LP Record
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #341,151 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Punch the Clock (2cd)
Elvis is at his most commercial for the 1983 disc featuring such pop delights as Everyday I Write the Book; Let Them All Talk , and weightier fare like the ominous Pills & Soap and the gorgeous, mournful Shipbuilding .
At times more ear-rending than the much maligned Goodbye Cruel World--thank the blaring horns, which augment an uneven bunch of songs--Punch the Clock nonetheless has its great moments. The searing political statements "Shipbuilding" and "Pills and Soap" are obvious high points (as is Chet Baker's solo on the former), while on the poppier side "Everyday I Write the Book" is sweetly distressed, "Let Them All Talk" definitively defiant, and "The World and His Wife" high-level sneering wordplay. At least a couple of the bonus tracks in Rykodisc's edition, though, trump some of the original Clock's weaker cuts. --Rickey Wright --This text refers to the LP Record edition.
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There was something endearing and powerful about Nick Lowe's claustrophobic production. Lowe would have been a poor fit for Punch. Even when EC and Geoff Emerick opened the songs up to a new sonic world on Imperial Bedroom, they withstood the challenge. There are a few tracks, though, where EC and L&W meet head on. The collison produces a couple of strong masterpieces including the sublimely realized Shipbuilding with the aching horn solo by the late, great Chet Baker. Pills and Soap, Let Them All Talk (the catchy opening track) and the brilliant single Everyday I Write The Book demonstrate that the match isn't a miss so much as a hit and miss depending on the material.
The bonus tracks have, again, been relocated to the bonus disc. Punch The Clock benefits from the bonus tracks even more than Trust or the other reissues do. There is a flaw, however, because Punch isn't as complete as it should be with a few missing tracks that were on the original Rykodisc version. Perhaps they'll be relocated to the re-release of Goodbye Cruel World. Still, the bonus disc is very generous with numerous unreleased live/demo tracks.
EC has a blast here. Punch The Clock is EC's most "fun" record of the original albums with the attractions. The production can sound dated (that's not necessarily a bad thing either)but the performances are, on the whole, as vivid and invigorating as anything from EC's prime. From here it would be a long fall from a very short pier.
Oh, and thanks to the writer who mentioned that the two live tracks from Punch 95 were not included here. I kept mine and, despite the lower fidelity of the sound on those tracks, EC probably should have kept them on here (could have put them on as secret bonus tracks).
It's acknowledged by EC cognoscentes that 'Goodbye Cruel World' (the album that immediately followed 'Punch' and was released a year later) marks the nadir of his career and that 'Punch the Clock' isn't far behind. The two albums are often paired together and I think justifiably regarded as parts 1 and 2 of a set. In fact, Elvis lost a sizeable portion of his audience after the release of these two albums. He has been fighting an uphill battle ever since to recover the level of support lost after 'Goodbye Cruel World'.
Despite respectable sales of 'Punch the Clock', I've always suspected that post 'Goodbye Cruel World' a lot of Elvis fans, upon reflection, suffered from buyer's remorse over 'Punch' and perhaps even some embarrassment. If this album was in their music libraries, the owners were probably hesitant to admit so and the album probably never left the shelf or the box at the back of the closet until some garage sale called out for it. I also suspect that those who bought the cd edition of this album did so more out of a sense of obligation than anything else.
I am not critizing Elvis' decision to try something different (i.e. a more "pop" oriented sound). (Although doing something different in and of itself does not guarantee that the results will be interesting, entertaining, artistically successful or even done well). Perhaps he was motivated by an understandable sense of disappointment over the sales of 'Imperial Bedroom'. I get the feeling from this album that Elvis' desire to do something different is a bit forced; done out of a sense of frustration or from some obligation or determination to do so but his heart was never truly in it, unlike 'The Juliet Letters' or 'Painted from Memory'. These two albums were very different directions for Elvis, each of which he obviously believed in and enjoyed. (Look at his dour portrait on the front cover of 'Punch'. That should tell you something. It's not exactly a happy face to go along with the upbeat pop music on the disc.)
Yes, the album does deliver some clever, witty, entertaining and even thoughtful lyrics. There are some standout tracks ('Everyday I Write the Book', 'Shipbuilding', 'Pills for Soap') but unless you're an Elvis collector/ completist, I recommend picking up one of his compilation albums to hear those songs. The real problem with this album is its production. No, I'm criticizing it because it is too "pop" oriented or too polished. The production is technically well done, and I should add that Rhino's remastering sounds great. The real problem is that too many of the tracks sound alike. When listening to this cd, I find myself wondering if I hadn't already heard this tune or that. Some of the tracks are not distinguishable from one another. Many of the songs that should be memorable, which deserve to be memorable, simply aren't. In all the upbeatness, I find a weary tedium.
For the Elvis collector/ completist, I would recommend this cd for the commendable remastered sound quality of the original album and for the tracks on the bonus disc. (There are many demos including 'Shatterproof' which supplied Rockpile's Billy Bremner with a hit single. There is also a two song medley from a BBC performance that includes a cover of the Beat's 'Stand Down Margaret'.) For the general music fan who is interested in Elvis, I would recommend purchasing a compliation "best of" album instead.
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