CD Review: Elvis Costello, In Motion Pictures

It's so funny to me that I was just watching Elvis Costello show up on The Colbert Report and shortly after got offered the opportunity to hear his latest batch of (I'm sure) great hits.

Let's face it, this guy really is a living legend. I don't know a single person who doesn't appreciate the talent. Since his debut album in 1976, music's been blessed by one of rock's greats. What's funny is that you rarely hear his name in a big way. He's not a huge, over-inflated superstar, yet ask anyone and they'll tell you he makes great music.

I love the description on Elvis's site for this album. It begins with: "the sacred tie between the Hollywood silver screen and music..." For Costello, these fifteen songs are 30 years of that sacred tie on one album.

"Accidents Will Happen" is the first track selection. It's from the song that was sung by Michael in E.T. The Extra Terrestrial when he comes home from school. I can't say I was terribly familiar with the song going into this, but Elvis still provides a familiar voice right from the get-go, gearing us up for a good album of music.

It goes then right in to "Lover's Walk," a really fun, almost samba-like tune. This is one I could totally get into dancing around the room to. Elvis brings a unique style to music, which is why I never could corner him in to a specific genre. But then again, it's Elvis Costello--can't corner that dude, clearly.

Now, Godfather III is the one in the trilogy I have never seen, mostly out of demand of a friend who said it'd just ruin the whole experience for me after having loved the first two. But apparently, "Miracle Man" was used in the seduction of Michael Corelone's daughter. Go figure. It doesn't sound like anything that would fit into those films to me, but that was the oddball one of the three.

Speaking of oddball, "Life Shrinks"is very out there vocally. Okay, admittedly I've heard stranger. But the melody is just strange. The way he manages to wrap his voice around words is weird. I think it grows on you throughout the song, though the military flute work is still kind of throwing me off.

Americathon included the song "Crawling To The U.S.A." It's much more along the lines of old rock, but something about the recording style makes it just out of the ordinary enough to still be Costello. It's definitely still one to get up and move to though, albeit awkwardly.

The next one, "Seven-Day Weekend, is from Club Paradise. Ah, what a nice sentiment. I've totally heard this song before, but it must have been as a cover or a later version, because this is completely an '80s-recorded number. It's like you want to do the twist to it, but with foot-high hair.

"Days" has this heartfelt sound to it right from the beginning. It comes to us from Until The End Of The World and has, by far, the most mellow sound of any song on the album so far. Actually, it makes for a nice calming moment mid-album.

This feeling continues on with "I Want You" from the film by the same title. As the chorus started, I was thinking Beatles big time, but clearly this is a song all its own. It's slow and sultry.

The Family Man included the nest song, "You Stole My Bell." Now I'm starting to wonder why I've never heard of any of these movies. Anywhos, the song starts to pick things back up just a bit, but there's a nice easing in of it. This is compiled like a good concert flow. And damn, that guitar.

That guitar comes into play in the rocking number "My Mood Swings." There's a deep effect on the vocals in this one making it just a generally cool song along the lines of old twist songs. Finally, too, it's from a movie I'm familiar with: The Big Lebowski, even if I've never seen it (*dodges fruit*).

"Oh Well" is mellow once again. To be completely honest and unapologetic, this is one I was fine with walking out of the room during and not caring what was happening back at the computer. There's always at least one like that.

"God Give Me Strength" from Grace Of My Heart is almost the same way, but at least here I'm trying to accept it as a good lounge-ish song to listen to. Sort of nice hearing the words of someone who's clearly not familiar enough with the artist's particular work make snarky comments on a collection of it, isn't it? Hi, I'm Janelle, and I'm from New Jersey, and naturally too sarcastic for my own good.

I don't know much about "Sparkling Day" going in, but the sound is warped enough to remain interesting. Sounds like there's a bit of heart put into it as it moves through with such a classic sounding background instrumental arrangement.

The next one was in TWO movies and a handful of TV shows. Love And Other Disasters and Notting Hill both contained "She." This one's a classic in its own right, let's face it. It's so beautiful and sad. And that is all.

"Town Called Big Nothing" is the final song in this collection, and it opens with the most beautiful Spanish guitar I've heard in a while. It's sort of a subdued track with a story all its own. It's a totally different and completely awesome way to close out the album.

Whew, what a journey. I'll end this the way I started: maybe I don't know the songs particularly well, but the Elvis Costello sound resonates through generations. This was just a lot of fun. I never have taken the time to listen through an entire collection of his work. Honestly, the most I got really into were probably his appearances on Gilmore Girls. This was great though. I hope you get taken back to your favorite movie moments through these numbers, or even just find yourself enjoying something new like I did!

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