This definitive collection offers the most penetrating single-disc overview available of Elvis Costello's work with the Attractions. Costello's early albums changed the face of pop music by harnessing punk's energy to a leaner, more incisive aesthetic that included pop hooks, virtually inventing new wave in the process. While the Attractions didn't appear until Costello's second album, his debut's moving, unsentimental ballad "Alison" nevertheless remains one of his most loved songs. The sound tightened up when the Attractions appeared, as evidenced by the angular, reggae-influenced "(I Don't Want to Go To) Chelsea" and the anthem of the disillusioned "Pump It Up." Costello moved further afield in the following years, from the lush, almost baroque pop of Armed Forces' "Accidents Will Happen" to the heartbreaking ballad "Good Year for the Roses" from his country album Almost Blue. True to Costello's jittery, neurotic image, things close out on an obsessive note with "I Want You," an unsettling tale of uncontrolled desire. The depth of Costello's oeuvre is too vast to be captured on one disc, but this one comes mighty close.
AllMusic Review by AllMusic