Picks and Pans Review: King of America

updated 03/24/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/24/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

Elvis Costello

During his first incarnation as the ultimate angry new waver in 1976, Elvis Costello, whose real name is Declan Patrick Aloysius Mac-Manus, named himself after one American legend while looking like Buddy Holly. He later recorded Almost Blue, a collection of American country-music standards, and Punch the Clock, backed by brassy horns and a Motown-style chorus. With this album Costello has made a fine contribution to the current revival of U.S. folk and roots rock. The evocative lyrics he's famous for are accompanied by strumming acoustic guitars, mandolins and gently brushed drums. Indoor Fireworks is his most moving ballad since his earlier hit Alison, and he delivers the Animals classic Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood with affecting anguish. On J.B. Lenoir's Eisenhower Blues, Costello sounds like vintage Dylan. Staring out from his album cover in a bejeweled crown and an embroidered satin jeans jacket, Elvis means to point out the irony in his musical status. He acknowledges that the U.S. isn't ready for another British king. Even so, Costello's 15-song album makes him one of the most honored knights of our round turntable. (Columbia)

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