Elvis Costello/Burt Bacharach: "Painted From Memory" (Mercury)

I know it's been a while since the much trumpeted Costello/Bacharach pairing disc came out last fall but I just gotta tell ya, I'm still finding new things to like about this record. My wife, who for the most part likes earthy, straight ahead music and artists, has been known to accuse me of have way too eclectic tastes when it comes to music - and she's probably right. The inference in this case being that this record is either way too good for the general populous or just too sophisticated, at times cheesy and perhaps too 'thought out' for it's own good. Well, I finally got her to listen to it and now she's permanently added it to her in-dash CD player.

'new things' example - in the track "I've Still Got That Other Girl" I just noticed the key modulation at the intro into the final chorus (and after a dead-stop in the arrangement, too - way to go Elvis). When was the last time you heard such a simple musical device as this used (to give a song that little extra boost to drive it home) by one of the current mush-pop writers cluttering the airways these days?

One of the other things I love about some of these songs is their literary structure - after reaching the musical climax in a piece, there is a tying together of loose ends or a separate musical statement to exit on (the French word for this escapes me at the moment). Tracks such as "In the Darkest Place" and "My Thief" use this device exquisitely.

So if you miss sophisticated, complex arrangements - lush melodies - the occasional dissonance or resolution of same used to drive home a musical point - lyric writing that takes a mature and personal look at the heartache relationships and love can bring - long for odd times, two bar turnarounds and left field musical changes that add cool support to the overall musical statement - and emotionally charged, heartfelt vocals - then this is your record.

Go back and listen - or go out and get it before you forget about it again
(I mean, who can keep track of 30,000 releases in a year?).

Clark Pardee