Rhino's Elvis Costello-thon continues with three fresh double-CD reissues from his Columbia and Warner oeuvre.

note: this review also covers the "Kojak Variety" and "Goodbye Cruel World" reissues.

Rhino's Elvis Costello-thon continues with three fresh double-CD reissues from his Columbia and Warner oeuvre. The edition of his 1981 country foray "Almost Blue" may be the best: It includes duets with George Jones and Johnny Cash, as well as seven hot tracks cut live with steel guitarist John McFee at the old Los Angeles country palace the Palomino. The uneven 1984 collection "Goodbye Cruel World" is augmented by spare original demos, solo live shots, an early version of the biting "I Hope You're Happy Now" and some superlative covers (Sam Cooke's "Get Yourself Another Fool" being the finest). The 1995 all-covers set "Kojak Variety" is beefed up with sharp interpretations of tunes by Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Paul Simon, the Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, the Gershwins and others. Rhino continues to do right by Costello and his fans.—CM

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