CirdecSongs Rapid-fire Record Reviews (January 25, 2022)

ELVIS COSTELLO & THE IMPOSTERS, The Boy Named If (Capitol). For his 32nd release, Elvis Costello has gone full Elvis Costello, reminding us of what made us love him in his punk/new wave prime of the late 70’s. Loaded with energy, passion, and a hint of snark, Costello takes on the concept of blaming abstract forces (personified here by an invisible friend named “If”) for what has gone wrong with our lives. But the concept is rendered nearly irrelevant by the strength of the songs, a fact made even more impressive since none of the musicians shared the same space to bring said music to life. This is not an artist resting in his musical laurels. Rather, it is a legend showing that plenty remains in a sizable creative tank.

AIMEE MANN, Queens of the Summer Hotel (SuperEgo). Some may see this compilation as a pivot in direction for singer/songwriter Aimee Mann. But this soundtrack awaiting its theater production is hardly that. Like Miles Davis going electric, the underlying voice remains consistent, even if the contextual vehicle has changed. Mann has replaced her intelli-pop band with the sound of an orchestra, allowing the album’s story — surrounding the 1993 book Girl, Interrupted — even more room to present itself with the utmost empathy and compassion. If anyone can address the issue of mental health in women during less sympathetic times, it’s Mann. And she does, brilliantly.

COPELAND, KING, COSMA & BELEW, Gizmodrome Live (Ear Music). Not all passion projects work. Some come off as mere exercises in self-indulgence. Fortunately, Stewart Copeland — best known for his legendary turn as drummer for The Police — was smart enough to surround himself with the kind of top-tier talent that made it easier to convey the sense of joy and good fun that comes with Gizmodrome’s slightly off-kilter compositions. The band’s studio effort is kicked into a higher gear onstage, as this set will attest. Bassist Mark King, keyboardist Vittorio Cosma, and guitarist Adrian Belew amuse themselves and the audience with hot takes from The Police, King Crimson, and Klark Kent on top of what was done on the band’s album. Their chemistry solidified, the playing is even sharper, making it easy to just sit back and relay exactly what is pictured on the album’s cover.

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Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (cirdecsongs) My book, I Can’t Be the Only One Hearing This: A Lifetime of Music Through Eclectic Ears, is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine book dealers. I’m currently working on my next book, The Wizard of WOO: The Life and Music of Bernie Worrell.

Would you like to have your record reviewed? Contact me at cirdecsongs@gmail.com

One comment

  1. that Gizmodrome live album is great. the playing reminds me of Absent Lovers by King Crimson – it’s so tight you swear it must be overdubbed, but when you watch live videos, they really are that good (though they do fuck up a fair amount). shame that we’ll probably never hear more of them. I would’ve loved to see them live at least.

    also interested in that Costello album…I heard a couple tracks and wow, it really does remind of This Year’s Model

    Liked by 1 person

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