Elvis Costello and the Attractions
When you hear Elvis put an Englishman’s idea of twang into the words “country miiiile,” you understand why veteran Nashville producer Billy Sherrill had what he calls “a jaundiced opinion” of this project at first. But get past the opener, Hank Williams’ Why Don’t You Love Me (Like You Used to Do), on which the estimable Attractions go at it like drunks in bumper cars. Then you’ll see why Sherrill wound up happy about helping the New Wave smart-aleck record an album of C&W standards. It’s not such a strange marriage. Going back to Alison on his first LP, Costello has been a distinctive balladeer, using his throat-catching lover-boy voice as an antidote to his hard-rocking sneer. That voice works here, especially on the Flying Burrito Brothers’ I’m Your Toy (Hot Burrito # 1) and Brown to Blue, a tune by George Jones, one of Costello’s idols. The melodicism and wordplay typical of Elvis’ own music are clearly what attract him to country. He may never be a real honky-tonker, but this collection proves him at least a good ole bloke.