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Elvis Costello Albums Ranked in Order of Awesomeness

Elvis Costello has made rock records and country albums. He’s collaborated with string quartets and pop geniuses. He’s been backed by Attractions and Imposters, Confederates and Sugarcanes, Crescent City Horns and the Roots. Today, we’re taking a look at his entire career (so far), by ranking every Elvis Costello Album in Order of Awesomeness.

A wise music writer once said that Costello fans tend to fall into two camps – those demanding nothing but rock and those willing to entertain his every musical whim – and they’re both misguided. That is to say that Costello is too interesting a songwriter to be confined to his early, punk-addled sound. But he’s also not quite the visionary who can stomp around in just any genre and come out covered in a masterpiece. Some of his rock releases have seemed forced while other album-length experiments have delivered a paler shade of the real article.

The divide in Costello’s fandom might be due to the artist’s monstrous opening salvo: six edgy, creative and exciting albums of original songs (plus one pretty good collection of country covers) in his first six years of recording. Can you blame some people for wanting Elvis to repeat this trick for the rest of his career? Can you fault others for being so won over that they’d follow him anywhere?

Of course you can, mostly because the man sometimes known as Declan MacManus has rocked, rolled and shuffled on so many great albums since 1982, and also fallen short of his considerable ambitions on occasion. From classical works to bashed-out discs, all of Costello’s records are here… well, with a few exceptions. This ranking includes each one of the records that credit Elvis as a primary artist, not albums that he produced or served in a supporting capacity. We’ve also omitted Costello’s two British TV soundtrack collaborations with Richard Hawley (which aren’t albums in the way these others are).

That still leaves us with a healthy catalog of pop, rock, country, soul, folk and classical, overflowing with razor-sharp melodies, international echoes and clever observations about high fidelity and useless beauty.

Next: Revisit Elvis Costello's 'Blood & Chocolate'

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