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Almost Blue by Elvis Costello
Released: Oct 1981
Label: Hip-O Records
It's now normal for rock fans of all stripes to embrace country music. That wasn't the case in 1981, when Elvis Costello (a teenage Grateful Dead and Gram Parsons fanatic) released this sincere appreciation of honky-tonk ravers, weepy Nashville ballads and misty Americana. It didn't help matters that Costello's new wave fan base acted as if he had joined the Klan while country critics dismissed it as technically deficient (it's actually nicely performed; Costello wisely doesn't try to sound "country" but his warm, sometimes tortured vocals match the "hit the rafters" belting style of some of his heroes). Costello's jazzy torch song "Almost Blue" is based on the album title but it doesn't appear here.
Nick Dedina