Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Elvis Costello and The Roots - Wise Up Ghost and Other Songs (2013)
There are bad singers, like Bob Dylan, who I have no problem listening to because they write melodies with interesting arrangements. Others, such as Bruce Springsteen and Larry Kirwan of Black 47, can't sing either but their respective bands are so musical I actually care what their songs have to say. Unfortunately, not even Questlove's highly versatile outfit can save this new release.
I'll admit to a few exceptions. Costello's cover of Nick Lowe's "What's So Funny about Peace, Love, and Understanding" is a fine, rocking track that manages to hide his vocal liabilities. "Alison" takes on a whole new dimension when covered by someone like Linda Ronstadt despite the nasty things the British star said about her version. I also like "Watching the Detectives," but not much else.
David Lee Roth once said that the reason most music critics like Elvis Costello and hate Van Halen is because most critics look like Elvis Costello. There could be some truth in Roth's words because it certainly can't be the music the highly prolific performer makes.
What is it about this guy that people love? Is Costello just a critic's darling? Do ordinary music listeners like him? Help me out here and tell me if I'm wrong.