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Reviewed by - Matt Rowe

Elvis Costello
The Right Spectacle:
The Very Best
of Elvis Costello

Rhino pops the cork on a videos collection of everybody’s favourite punk/new wave "angry man" from the ‘70s.  Who’s the guy?  Well, better stated is who is the band?  Brought up from the excellent stable of Stiff Records, and later, Radar Records, Elvis Costello and The Attractions led the way in English punk-pop with a seemingly never-ending flow of very memorable tunes that include “Pump It Up,” “Radio Radio,” “Oliver’s Army,” and others.

The Right Spectacle, the Rhino-issued DVD collection of Elvis Costello tunes runs the course with 27 main program videos.  This compilation begins with limited budget productions of “(I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea,” and same-day recording of “Pump It Up.”  It’s very evident that the band is lip-synching during these beginning videos but it really doesn’t matter as the songs are so damn catchy.  It’s also very interesting to watch the infancy of the video revolution as it progresses through the DVD, chronologically rewarding viewers with more and more classic Costello/Attractions songs.  The videos get better as the MTV generation kicks in.  The band begins to act on the videos, being directed successfully by Chuck Statler, who had directed for DEVO up ‘til then.

The band’s output becomes less angry, less-punkish, and more stylish, revealing the musical chops that Costello had in him.  Costello has led The Attractions, very cleverly, into new styles that defined new levels of music expansion.  By the time of Get Happy, with its wide variety of great songs, the videos, still early MTV-era productions, are beginning to show a more current thematic approach.  By the time, the DVD pushes into “Everyday I Write The Book,” the film is cleaner, the concepts more broad, and the band is becoming something more than what they started out as.  With the jazzy “Let Them All Talk,” it’s very clear that Costello would maintain his musical strengths and effectively evolve.  There is the brilliant video, "I Wanna Be Loved" with its never-ending line of people planting kisses on EC as he, so it's revealed, displays a genuine strong emotion and a worn out demeanor, and is quite possibly the most important video of EC's career. It is easily his best, artistically. The rest of the DVD is completed with songs that swing all the way to 1994’s Brutal Youth.

The DVD completes itself with almost 70 minutes of extras that include a collection of live performances and video excerpts, including TV bits that include “Alison” from My Aim Is True.  For those who need to know the quality of the material they are purchasing, all videos are presented in nicely cleaned 4:3 full-screen and delivered in excellent stereo sound.  Each video can be watched with commentary, either vocal or sub-titled, depending on your preference, and which provide interesting facts from Costello himself as he remembers each clip and the nuances that brought them to life.

Historically, The Right Spectacle is an essential addition to the expanded Rhino CD catalogue remasters earlier released making the entire set definitive.  There’s even a booklet that contains an unusual 2500 word essay from Costello, unusual in that videos are usually accompanied by single-page slipcards.

If you’re a Costello/Attractions fan, then the acquisition of this DVD video is an absolute no-brainer.

Release Date: September 27, 2005
Produced by: Sophie Coolbaugh
Format: DVD
Website: www.elviscostello.com

Track Listing:

(I Don't Want TO Go To) Chelsea / Pump It Up / Radio Radio / (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding / Oliver's Army / Accidents Will Happen / I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down / High Fidelity / Love For Tender / Possesion / New Amsterdam / Clubland / New Lace Sleeves / Good Year For The Roses / Sweet Dreams / You Little Fool / Everyday I Write The Book / Let Them All Talk / The Only Flame In Town / I Wanna Be Loved / Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood / Veronica / This Town / The Other Side of Summer / So Like Candy / Sulky Girl / 13 Steps Lead Down

Extras: So It Goes [UK] (1977) - Alison (Excerpt), No Dancing, Lip Service / Revolver [UK] (1978) - This Year's Girl, Radio Radio / Countdown [Netherlands] (1979) - Oliver's Army, Accidents Will Happen, Watching The Detectives, You Belong To Me / Pink Pop Festival [Netherlands] (1979) - Lipstick Vogue, Watching The Detectives / What's In [UK] (1981) - Shot With His Own Gun / The Tube [UK] (1983) - Shipbuilding, Everyday I Write The Book, Clowntime Is Over, TKO (Boxing Day) / Mandagsboren [Sweden] (1983) - Big Sister's Clothes, Peace In Our Time.

Easter Egg - Not located

Elvis Costello and The Attractions:

Elvis Costello: Vocals / Guitar / Piano
Steve Nieve: Organ / Piano / Keyboards
Pete Thomas - Drums
Bruce Thomas - Bass.

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