Review by LarryG|
3 stars out of 4
Elvis tried a lot of different things in the 90's. He made a cd with a
string quartet and one with Burt Bachrach. They were both interesting
but Elvis' vocals were a little overmatched by the complicated arrangements.
All This Useless Beauty was his best in the 90's because it focused on
his greatest strength: his songwriting. He wrote most of the songs for other
people but definitely makes them his own. The record is
reminiscent of Elvis and the Attractions' classic Imperial Bedroom for
the high level of the songwriting and the interesting arrangements.
You Bowed Down, originally written for Roger McGuinn, is an bitter, insightful
story about two friends who make a pact not to sell out. The Attraction
perfectly underline Elvis' often mischievous tales.
Little Atoms is a wry song about Elvis being a playboy and Steve Nieve's
piano has an appropriately light touch. The put down of Starting to
Come to Me seems less obnoxious in the frolicsome musical setting. The
serious songs work as well. I Want to Vanish, Elvis' reunion with the Brodsky
Quartet, has an achingly wistful tone. In all, the songwriting is so strong
that, no matter what detours Elvis takes, his career will still
be worth watching for years to come.
Here's what others reviewers have to say:
"...the most likable and organic Costello album in
years....these tracks arise as modern standards--the '90s answer to the
brilliance of the old Brill Building catalog." 3 Stars -
Good Rolling Stone 5/30/96, p.49