Elvis Costello

The Very Best of Elvis Costello

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Elvis Costello seems to have an aversion to presenting his work in a logical, comprehensive fashion, if the double-disc The Very Best of Elvis Costello is any indication. Like its predecessor, Girls Girls Girls, it sprawls over two discs, with very little regard to chronology or style, baffling and enticing listeners in equal measure. Although there are certainly some terrific songs missing, it's hard to argue with much of what's here (with the notable exception of the cuts here to lure in collectors -- the Charles Aznavour cover of "She," first heard in Notting Hill, and a version of "That Day Is Done," recorded with the Fairfield Four, featured on their 1997 album). So, as a reasonably thorough, albeit scattershot, overview, this works pretty well, since the music itself is good, even if it doesn't make sense when presented in this fashion (if it was intended to illustrate Costello's stylistic sweep, it winds up as counterproductive, since it's confusing in this fashion, not enticing). Still, the curious will prefer the single-disc sampler, The Very Best of Elvis Costello and the Attractions, since it's not only more concise, it illustrates Costello's depth and range equally well. And if you want to dig deeper after hearing that, the original albums are worth any fan's time.

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