Album #565 – Blood & Chocolate
Blood and Chocolate has become one of my favorite Elvis Costello albums. It’s sound hearkens back to the sound of My Aim Is True and yet the songwriting is more dark and raw than almost anything that came before. Blood and Chocolate would be his last album with the Attractions for 8 years. By this point, Costello was happily married to the Pogues bassist Cait O’Riordon. She even sings backing vocals on Crimes of Paris. Yet I can’t think of better examples of Costello’s angry songwriting. Maybe tensions with the Attractions fueled the fire. I Want You is the most haunting, bitter break-up song I have ever heard. It goes for the jugular in a way that even Sting’s stalker anthem, “Every Breath You Take”, doesn’t. It’s angry, creepy and leaves you on the edge of your seat. It is uncomfortable to listen to. I have never been a relationship and gone through the bitter break-ups that sometimes come with them but, I Want You makes me feel those emotions in a very deep way. To me, it makes Costello one of the greatest songwriters of the last 50+ years. Nick Lowe’s return to producing the Attractions after a 5 year absence also makes this album have that familiar sound. A mixture of straight forward rock and introspective ballads, Blood & Chocolate marks a new sound for Costello that matches most of his early 90’s output. In fact, Blood & Chocolate is such a good sounding album that it holds up over 30 years later. There is no 80’s gloss or over production. Instead, it captures Elvis Costello in his finest form: a man who loves words and know how to use melody effectively.
Other highlights include: Uncomplicated, I Hope Your Happy Now, Home Is Anywhere You Hang Your Head, Blue Chair, Battered Old Bird and Poor Napoleon.
Overall, I give Blood & Chocolate, 5 out of 5.
Next: Planet Rock: The Album by Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force