This stupid pandemic has brought to market all kinds of stuff we never thought we would need. (I’m not going to go into detail on any of it except this…) ELVIS COSTELLO & THE ATTRACTIONS’ Spanish Model is a semi-remake of EC’s classic second album – the first he did with The Attractions – This Year’s Model. I don’t really know where to start with this, a remodel of a record that needed no overhaul in the first place. Put on the original today and it still blasts out of your speakers, all splash, brash and flash: insistent and consistent. Click on the link to this new one and it comes out of your little white earbuds or 1/2″ x 3″ wide laptop speakers as perhaps the most incongruent release in Elvis’s discography. What Spanish Model is is This Year’s Model with most of EC’s vocals replaced by vocals recorded by “singing stars from Latin America, Spain & the U.S.A.” That, on paper, doesn’t sound like a bad idea, exactly. On compact disc, though, it’s like time travel gone awry. Take that young English upstart and his cohorts and plop them, 40+ years later, into a world that they never made – or probably envisioned – and you’ve got trouble. What I’m getting at is these modern, smooth vocalists, as good as they can be (though there are some that just aren’t!), just don’t suit the music. I am left wondering just what in the world Costello and his business advisors were thinking when they cooked this one up.
I wish I could say I had high hopes for this one. I did not. In fact, I was going to skip this one entirely until one day, browsing the very meager selection of CDs and vinyl at my local Target, I saw Spanish Model on the shelf with a sticker noting “three bonus songs” and decided to give it a shot. Well, my aim’s never been very true and so I missed the target with this one. I can say, though, that producer Sebastian Krys’ mix – though very close to Nick Lowe’s original – does bring out some interesting bits that weren’t in evidence on that year’s model. Krys, being both a celebrated producer and person of Latin heritage, was clearly instrumental in this project’s birth and may have even been the instigator. And maybe, just maybe, the idea was judged to be a good one once it was obvious that Elvis Costello & The Imposters’ next album would hearken back to the sound of This Year’s Model (if pre-release track “Magnificent Hurt” is a trustworthy indicator). As much as many of us Costello fans have been wishing for a return to the glory days of EC & The Attractions, I don’t think any of us expected it to happen. At least, not this way. – Marshall Gooch
2/5 (UMe B0034233-02, 2021)