Elvis Costello & The Impostors’ The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook was not an easy work to assess. At length, it must be awarded a kind verdict, and placed in the favor of QRO Magazine.
As a rule, reviews are conducted knowing as little as possible about the album or the artist. The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook is, in point of fact, a live album and must be judged accordingly. This says a lot about Costello and his band as musicians. Regardless of how much you can alter and fix a track once it’s been recorded, there’s no way around the fact that if you aren’t a proficient singer with a tight band, you aren’t going to be able to do a good live album. Elvis Costello & The Imposters nailed this one.
Costello is certainly a proficient musician, but it can’t be denied that he’s an entertainer before anything else. Even on an audio track, you can hear his energy, and his delight at bring his sound to the audience. This is excellent, simply because live material like this never fails to lift a person’s mood. If nothing else, that makes the album handy.
Regarding songs and musical content, Costello has definitely produced content for an audience with vintage taste. Tracks like the out-and-proud major key piano ballad, “God Give Me Strength”, are unapologetically traditional with regards to arrangement and delivery. Contrary to the belief of various professionals within the music industry, this is to be considered a good thing, and it earns the album a few points.
On the negative side of things, if you aren’t a die-hard Costello fan, his way of doing things can be hard to get used to. The first couple of tracks could very easily put a skeptic first-time listener off of the rest of the album. For that reason, the order the album’s tracks are played in has got to be counted against it.
Some of the songs, such as the chosen featured track, can get a little long, but it’s all part of the live experience, and well worth listening to, especially if you’re a live album junkie.
Though the album as a whole is by no means spectacular, as the title suggests, it definitely has its intended effect, and is well worth the price you would pay for it. If you’re a fan, or you think you could be, give it a listen.