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Category:    Home > Reviews > Music Videos > Rock > New Wave > The Right Spectacle: The Very Best Of Elvis Costello - The Videos

The Right Spectacle – The Very Best Of Elvis Costello


Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: B     Concert: B



Who was the King of New Wave?  Joe Jackson avoided the title like the plague after Is She Really Going Out With Him? going on to do other genres, Adam Ant was more pop oriented yet subversive having a great run of hits, Gary Numan was a one-hit wonder despite his talent, Thomas Dolby had a couple of hits then was sued over his name by the sound system company, Falco had a few hits placing him somewhere between Ant and the rest and Howard Jones had more good records than the radio would play.  That leaves Elvis Costello, who was wearing the same streamlined 3-piece suits and playing the same great Rock.  The Right Spectacle – The Very Best Of Elvis Costello is a loaded offering of his Music Videos and a bunch of great live clips.


The main set of Videos are all 1.33 X 1 and usually are stage performances in that the band is playing instruments on camera.  Directors follow the title:


1)     (I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea (Jon Roseman)

2)     Pump It Up  (Jon Roseman)

3)     Radio Radio (Jon Roseman)

4)     (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding? (Chuck Statler)

5)     Oliver’s Army (Chuck Statler)

6)     Accidents Will Happen (Rocky Morton & Annabel Jankel)

7)     I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down (Chuck Statler)

8)     High Fidelity (Chuck Statler)

9)     Love For Tender (Chuck Statler)

10)  Possession (John Davey)

11)  New Amsterdam (Peter Campbell)

12)  Clubland (Barney Bubbles)

13)  New Lace Sleeves (Barney Bubbles)

14)  Good Year For The Roses (Peter Carr)

15)  Sweet Dreams (Chris Gabrin)

16)  You Little Fool (Brian Grant)

17)  Everyday I Write The Book (Don Letts)

18)  Let Them All Talk (Chuck Statler)

19)  The Only Flame In Town (featuring Daryl Hall; Allen Arkush)

20)  I Wanna Be Loved (The Rich Kids)

21)  Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (Brian Griffith)

22)  Veronica (John Hillcoat & Evan English)

23)  This Town (Adrian Edmondson)

24)  The Other Side Of Summer (Evan English)

25)  So Like Candy (n/a)

26)  Sulky Girl (Brian Griffith)

27)  13 Steps Lead Down (Evan English)



The early Roseman clips are videotaped classics, including the song that got Costello practically banned from mainstream radio, Radio Radio.  It was an MTV hit and his career outlasted most of the artists in that network’s early years.  Roseman produced many and co-directed some of Eurythmics early Videos for years, out on that band’s hits DVD.  The Statler Videos followed, often filmed and as interesting.  He had helmed DEVO classics like Satisfaction and Freedom Of Choice.  Track 6 is from the team who did Donald Fagen’s New Frontier (which can be seen on the great DVD-Audio version of his Nightfly album), while Brian Grant did Heartbreaker for Pat Benatar, Shock The Monkey for Peter Gabriel and The Look Of Love for ABC.  Evan English did Something So Strong for Crowded House.  Needless to say, the talent who worked with him was top rate and in his prime, Costello had an amazing combination (vodka notwithstanding) of talent, energy and well-channeled power that helps these great records endure today.  After some trouble around the time of the Goodbye Cruel World album, he entered a new era with interesting, if not always successful results.


The 1.33 X 1 image is not bad in most cases, though the earlier clips are slightly hazy and will need worked on and retransferred when digital HD is called on.  As compared to other such sets, this one is better than average.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo does not have Pro Logic surrounds, and no 5.1 DTS or Dolby mix is included, but the sound here is of the rare, stronger Dolby 2.0 we do not encounter enough.  Too bad other soundtrack options were not available.  On the extras, the audio is not as clean or clear.  In the case of Everyday I Write The Book, it looks as good and sounds as good as the version on the MTV 20 – Pop DVD that had weaker Dolby 2.0 and ambiance-oriented Dolby 5.1.  That is also a good disc if you can find it.


Extras include Costello’s terrific audio commentary on all the Videos, which are actually available with closed captioning, and then there is an extensive archive of TV appearances from 1977 – 1983 that runs about 68 minutes.  A legacy of the pre Music Video era winding down, it offers key songs that never had videos.  The packaging properly claims that all the Videos from 1978 – 1994 are here, beginning with his early years at Radar Records through his later Warner Bros. hits.  Columbia actually distributed those early releases, while Costello also cut records for the F-Beat label.  The live performances are all form the Radar era, as well as from Costello’s 1977 debut album My Aim Is True, which went through the Stiff Label.  Those tracks include an excerpt of Alison, Watching The Detective and No Dancing.  A booklet included in the DVD case has additional notes by Costello about the live clips.


All that makes The Right Spectacle as comprehensive as any single DVD as you will find on any music artist out there.  With or without The Attractions, Costello remains a force to be reckoned with and this collection is a real home run.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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