Six years after the commencement of a major Elvis Costello reissue campaign at Rhino, his catalog transferred over to Universal, which had been releasing new Elvis music since 1998's Painted from Memory. Like every one of his previous two big catalog shifts -- a campaign with Rykodisc/Demon in 1994, a jump to Rhino in 2001 -- the 2007 series is preceded by a new hits collection, this time The Best of Elvis Costello: The First 10 Years, a 22-track collection of highlights that's pretty much exactly what it says it is. It is quite similar to the last previous single-disc collection, the 1994 Ryko/Demon set The Very Best of Elvis Costello and the Attractions, which also ran 22 tracks, 19 of which also appear on The First 10 Years. The three omissions -- "Watch Your Step," "New Amsterdam," and "Love Field" -- will not be missed by anybody looking for a new Costello comp in 2007, particularly because all three substitutions are better choices for the casual man: "New Lace Sleeves," "Almost Blue," and "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes," which bizarrely wasn't on the 1994 set. With these three songs rubbing shoulders with "Alison," "Watching the Detectives," "Pump It Up," "Oliver's Army," "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding," and all the other usual suspects, The Best of Elvis Costello: The First 10 Years winds up being the best single-disc summary and introduction to Costello's prime years.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine