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Classic Album Reviews: Elvis Costello | This Year’s Model / Blood & Chocolate / Brutal Youth Reissues

Three more Costello classic return augmened with dozens of unreleased rarities.

This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


Last year, Rhino kicked off its Elvis Costello reissue campaign with refurbished versions of My Aim Is True, Spike and All This Useless Beauty. This second instalment follows the same path, pulling one album from the ’70s (his sophomore masterpiece This Year’s Model), the ’80s (the brash ’n’ poppy Blood & Chocolate), and the ’90s (Brutal Youth, a semi-reunion with The Attractions). Each comes with an entire CD of extras — demos, live performances, B-sides and other rarities — along with revealing essays by Elvis himself.

Songs You Know: This Year’s Model has the most — new wave classics No Action, Pump It Up, This Year’s Girl, (I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea, Lip Service, Night Rally and Radio, Radio — while Blood & Chocolate has minor hits like I Hope You’re Happy Now and Tokyo Storm Warning, and Brutal Youth contributes Pony St. and 13 Steps Lead Down.

Songs You Oughta Know: All 42 obscurities gathered on these three CDs. This Year’s Model features a hyper version of This Year’s Girl, some live stuff from the BBC and a solo acoustic demo of Radio, Radio that justifies the purchase price by itself. Blood & Chocolate leans toward raw, raucous covers of Leave My Kitten Alone, Baby’s Got A Brand New Hairdo and others. Brutal Youth, finally, has some worthy alternatve versions and demos, along with a short, sharp musical reading of YeatsA Drunken Man’s Praise of Sobriety.

Odd Moments: The funky, slow-grooving live version of The Damned’s Neat Neat Neat on This Year’s Model.

Final Verdict: This Year’s Model is a must for even the most casual Costello fan; the others, while not as immediately accessible, have enough great moments to turn a casual fan into a devotee.