Today’s Random Weekend track is a cut from the bonus disc of Elvis Costello’s 2002 reissue of his 1979 album Armed Forces.
‘Big Boys’ is the fourth song on Side One of the original album, and it’s a tight, angry song about sexual immaturity and corrosive infatuation. It’s pretty much perfect as is.
This “alternate version” is similar to the album track structurally, but nowhere near as successful.
Elvis Costello loves to keep his fans guessing. This is the man who released an album of country music covers in between two of his poppiest efforts in the 80s. And an album recorded with a string quartet a decade later.
He has released collaborative albums with vocalist Anne Sofie von Otter, New Orleans R&B legend Allen Toussaint, Netherlands ensemble the Metropole Orkest, jazz guitarist Bill Frisell, symphonic composer Richard Harvey, and esteemed songwriter Burt Bacharach. None of those albums sound alike, nor do they sound like any of the “regular” albums Costello dropped in between them.
‘The Bridge I Burned’ is a cut from one of the extended editions Elvis Costello released in the early 2000s, in this case the 2001 reissue of 1995’s All This Useless Beauty.
At least that’s where my copy of this song lives. It was originally released as part of a 1997 greatest hits collection, a contractual obligation that allowed Costello to finish off his time at Warner Bros.
Continuing my look at 1994, first by counting down my own top ten albums of that year.
#8 – Brutal Youth – Elvis Costello
A long time ago on this blog, I referred to Brutal Youth as “one of the highlights of the back half of Costello’s career.” I guess that was true when I wrote it, more than a decade ago.
This album was Costello’s 16th of 33 (and counting), putting it just before the midpoint in terms of recorded output. And it was released in the 27th year of his 55-year (and counting) career, again putting it just before the midpoint. So now, rather than representing the “back half” of his career, I guess Brutal Youth falls at almost the exact center.
The Random iTunes Fairy serves up a lot of interesting songs. But I didn’t realize until today’s selection popped up just how rarely she delivers something I really love.
Usually, my reaction to the first notes of the random song is something akin to “huh.” As in, there’s an artist I haven’t thought about much lately. Or, I wonder how this album wound up in my iTunes library?