Rhino's splendid refurbishment of Costello's catalog shouldn't divert listeners from the fact that he is one of the rare artists of his generation to grow more adventurous with time.

Rhino's splendid refurbishment of Costello's catalog shouldn't divert listeners from the fact that he is one of the rare artists of his generation to grow more adventurous with time. With his first solo set in seven years—following projects with the likes of Burt Bacharach and classical singer Anne Sofie von Otter—Costello proves that all the balladry hasn't dulled his ability to rock. The metaphoric pop manifesto "45" bristles with verbal acuity and the singer's own whiplash electric guitar, as does the single, "Tear Off Your Own Head (It's a Doll Revolution)." "When I Was Cruel No. 2" manages to quote ABBA and Erik Satie even as it works in self-deprecating digs at aging rockers and aging critics. His partners include Attractions Steve Naïve and Pete Thomas, plus well-chosen young guns. But it's this old dog who's full of new tricks.—BB