Released February 1986
Recorded in Los Angeles
The album is absolutely pack full of excellent songs, and also, despite its rootsy edge, the sound quality is excellent and that befits the musicianship on view. There is a huge country tinge to a lot of the material, but it is one that backs Costello's wonderful lyrics, as opposed to 1981's "Almost Blue", which was populated with covers of country standards. It is also very much an album of Americana. The catchy, lilting acoustic folk of the title track exemplifies this. A cynical tale of the mainstream US media. "Lovable" is a rockabilly-style bluesy romp, while "Our Little Angel" is total steel guitar country, but it has a captivating hook to it. Costello's cover of The Animals' sixties classic "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" is more than convincing. It is vibrant and powerful, suiting him down to the ground.
"Glitter Gulch" is back to the jaunty, folky country blues and "Indoor Fireworks" is a typical Costello ballad with country airs. "Little Palaces" and "I'll Wear It Proudly" are classic Costello slow numbers, full to the brim with cutting lyrics. I love "American Without Tears" - a folky, moving number concerning GI Brides from World War Two who left Coventry for a sad life in the USA with their whirlwind-romance GI husbands. "Eisenhower Blues" is a full on rocky blues thumper, and "The Big Light" has a fast-paced shuffling country blues style too, with a sort of stand up, throbbing bass groove. "The Poisoned Rose" is a mournful lament of a ballad.
The album ends with three copper-bottomed Costello corkers - "Jack Of All Parades", "Suit Of Lights" and "Sleep Of The Just". The former are very Attractions-like in style, full of uplifting piano riffs, but enhanced by the breadth of the musicianship and slick production of the team involved with the production of this album. The latter, and closing track, is an emotive song about a girl and her unfortunate dalliance with a soldier, sung over a haunting organ backing. It is a harrowing tale upon which to close what has been a varied and constantly interesting album. Up there with Costello's best of all time.