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ELVIS COSTELLO:: KING OF AMERICA (RE-ISSUE ALBUM REVIEW)

1985 was Elvis Costello’s year, releasing not one, but two of his most cherished works. “Blood & Chocolate,” the rocking swansong with the Attractions, and “KING OF AMERICA,” a countrified, roots-rock extravaganza, featuring such legends as James Burton, Earl Palmer, Ray Brown, Jim Keltner, and Jerry Scheff as his backing band. “KING OF AMERICA” is regarded by many, to be Costello’s masterpiece. I don’t disagree. From the sway of the opener “Brilliant Mistake,” an instant classic, to such heartbreaking ballads as “Poisoned Rose,” and “I’ll Wear It Proudly,” with such shitkickers as “Lovable” and “The Big Light” thrown in along the way, KOA was Costello’s transition from the British punk who rode in on the mid 70’s New Wave, to respected adult, singer-songwriter. It was a sign of things to come, laying the foundation for Costello to be accepted, although not necessarily with welcome reviews, for experimenting and recording all genres of music, from jazz to classical over the coming years. Rhino Records’ reissue campaign continues with this release, adding an additional CD chock full of piano demos, outtakes, and b-sides, all of which are as strong as the finished product.
(Sal Nunziato-NYCD)