‘Hidden Shame,’ heard here in demo form as included on Elvis Costello’s reissue of the 1996 album All This Useless Beauty, was originally written by Costello for Johnny Cash. Costello wrote a few songs for Cash, including ‘Complicated Shadows,’ one of Beauty‘s main tracks.
Cash never recorded ‘Complicated Shadows’ but he did record this one, on a 1990 album titled Boom Chicka Boom. That album — his 76th! — also included a cover of Harry Chapin’s ‘Cat’s in the Cradle.’
‘The Invisible Man’ is a track from Elvis Costello’s 1983 release Punch the Clock, his eighth studio album. Costello teamed up with pop producers Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley to deliver his most commercial album, hoping for chart success that had largely eluded him to that point.
It worked, to a degree. Punch the Clock was his best-selling album in several years and produced a modest international hit in ‘Everyday I Write the Book.’ That song became his first Top 40 single in the U.S., and one of only two in his entire career (bonus points to commenters who can name the second).
Continuing my look at 2004, first by counting down my own top ten albums of that year.
#7 – Elvis Costello – The Delivery Man
Like Ron Sexsmith, Elvis Costello is an artist who has put out so many albums it’s hard to keep up. He has released 13 albums in this century alone, none of which I’d number among his very best.
But that run of albums does include some solid work, including the country rock song cycle The Delivery Man.
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.