King of America

King of America
Studio album by The Costello Show featuring the Attractions and Confederates
Released 21 February 1986
Recorded Ocean Way, Sunset Sound & Sound Factory Studio
Los Angeles, 1985-86
Genre Alternative rock, folk rock
Length 57:36
Label F-Beat (UK)
Columbia (US)
Demon (UK) (5 September 1995 Reissue)
Rykodisc (5 September 1995 Reissue)
Rhino (26 April 2005 Reissue)
Hip-O (1 May 2007 Reissue)
Producer J. Henry (T-Bone) Burnett, Declan MacManus a.k.a. (The Coward Brothers)
Elvis Costello chronology
The Best of Elvis Costello and The Attractions
King of America
Blood & Chocolate
Professional ratings
Review scores
Chicago Tribune[3]
Christgau's Record GuideA−[4]
Entertainment WeeklyA[5]
Pitchfork Media8.7/10[6]
Rolling Stone[8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[9]

King of America is the tenth studio album by the British rock singer and songwriter Elvis Costello, released in 1986 in the United Kingdom as F-Beat ZL 70946, and in the United States as Columbia JC 40173. It was billed as by "The Costello Show featuring the Attractions and Confederates" in the UK and Europe and "The Costello Show featuring Elvis Costello" in North America. It peaked at #11 on the UK album chart, and at #39 on the Billboard 200.


During late 1984 and early 1985, Costello undertook a series of solo tours, sharing the bill with musician T-Bone Burnett.[11]:3 Costello and Burnett recorded a single together in early 1985, and ventured to imagine appropriate backing musicians for Costello's new songs.[11]:3–4 They booked time at Ocean Way and Sunset Sound studios in Los Angeles, and assembled members of the TCB Band who had backed Elvis Presley in the 1970s (Costello being more familiar with their work on records by Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris).[11]:4 Other sessions included the jazz bassist Ray Brown and New Orleans drummer Earl Palmer, and a group of musicians dubbed 'the Confederates,' featuring T-Bone Wolk, Mickey Curry, and producer Mitchell Froom.[11]:5,10 Elvis's usual backing musicians the Attractions appear on only one track, "Suit of Lights", but returned to record in full Costello's next album, Blood & Chocolate.

In the album credits, Costello uses three different noms de plume for himself: his given name of Declan MacManus; his stage name of Elvis Costello; and the nickname awarded him by producer Nick Lowe earlier in his career, the Little Hands of Concrete, that last a reference to his habitual breaking of guitar strings during recording sessions.[11]:3–4

The version of the 1964 hit single by the Animals "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" was released a single, and peaked at #33 on the UK singles chart but missed the Billboard Hot 100, as did the follow-up single released only in America; "Lovable." The single by Burnett and Costello as the Coward Brothers did not chart in either nation.

Release history

The album was released initially on vinyl in 1986, with the Rykodisc Records reissue arriving nine years later on a single compact disc with five bonus tracks, including the 1986 single by Costello and Burnett and credited to "The Coward Brothers" (Elvis being Henry and T-Bone being Howard). Early limited edition pressings also included a six-track bonus disc: Elvis Costello & The Confederates - Live on Broadway, 1986.

In 2005, Rhino Records issued a two-disc, remastered version of the album. The bonus disc contained all five bonus tracks from the Rykodisc version and all six Live on Broadway tracks, as well as ten more bonus tracks. The Rykodisc and Rhino editions are both out of print.

The album was issued a third time on CD by Universal Music Group after its acquisition of Costello's complete catalogue in 2006. This release was a standalone version featuring no bonus tracks and features the same mastering as the Rhino edition.

Track listing

All tracks written by Declan MacManus (Elvis Costello) except as noted; track timings taken from Rhino 2005 reissue.

Side one

  1. "Brilliant Mistake" — 3:45
  2. "Lovable" (MacManus, Cait O'Riordan) — 2:53
  3. "Our Little Angel" — 4:06
  4. "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" (Bennie Benjamin, Sol Marcus, Gloria Caldwell) — 3:22
  5. "Glitter Gulch" — 3:17
  6. "Indoor Fireworks" — 4:10
  7. "Little Palaces" — 3:49
  8. "I'll Wear It Proudly" — 4:25

Side two

  1. "American Without Tears" — 4:34
  2. "Eisenhower Blues" (J. B. Lenoir) — 3:46
  3. "Poisoned Rose" — 4:07
  4. "The Big Light" — 2:33
  5. "Jack of All Parades" — 5:18
  6. "Suit of Lights" — 4:06
  7. "Sleep of The Just" — 3:51

1995 bonus tracks

  1. "The People's Limousine" (The Coward Brothers) (Henry Coward & Howard Coward) — 3:43 IMP single #006
  2. "They'll Never Take Her Love from Me" (The Coward Brothers) (Leon Payne) — 2:55 IMP single #006 b-side
  3. "Suffering Face" — 3:08 demo recording
  4. "Shoes Without Heels" — 4:20 released as the b-side to "Blue Chair"
  5. "King of Confidence" — 2:48 session outtake

Live on Broadway, 1986 (Limited Edition Bonus Disc)

  1. "That's How You Got Killed Before" (Dave Bartholomew) — 3:14
  2. "The Big Light" — 3:08
  3. "It Tears Me Up" (Dan Penn/Spooner Oldham) — 3:27
  4. "The Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line" (Ivy J. Bryant) — 2:42
  5. "Your Mind is on Vacation" / "Your Funeral and My Trial" (Mose Allison) / (Sonny Boy Williamson) — 5:16
  6. "That's How You Got Killed Before" (Reprise) (Dave Bartholomew) — 7:00

2005 bonus disc

Tracks 1-8 and 13 are solo demo recordings; tracks 15-20 are the Live on Broadway tracks; track 21 is a previously unreleased performance from the Broadway show.

  1. "Having It All" — 3:57
  2. "Suffering Face" — 3:08
  3. "Deportee" — 3:35
  4. "Indoor Fireworks" — 3:50
  5. "I Hope You're Happy Now" — 3:06
  6. "Poisoned Rose" — 4:12
  7. "I'll Wear It Proudly" — 3:26
  8. "Jack of All Parades" — 3:32
  9. "The People's Limousine" (The Coward Brothers) (Coward & Coward) — 3:43 IMP single #006
  10. "They'll Never Take Her Love from Me" (The Coward Brothers) (Payne) — 2:55 IMP single #006 b-side
  11. "King of Confidence" — 2:48 session outtake
  12. "Shoes Without Heels" — 4:20 released as the b-side to "Blue Chair"
  13. "End of the Rainbow" (Richard Thompson) — 3:28
  14. "Betrayal" — 2:25 session outtake with The Attractions
  15. "That's How You Got Killed Before" (Bartholomew) — 3:14
  16. "The Big Light" — 3:08
  17. "It Tears Me Up" (Penn/Oldham) — 3:27
  18. "The Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line" (Bryant) — 2:42
  19. "Your Mind Is On Vacation/Your Funeral My Trial" (Allison) / (Williamson) — 5:16
  20. "That's How You Got Killed Before (Reprise)" (Bartholomew) — 7:00
  21. "True Love Ways" (Buddy Holly & Norman Petty) — 3:33


Additional personnel


  1. Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "King of America – Elvis Costello". AllMusic. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  2. Wolk, Douglas (March 2005). "Elvis Costello: King of America". Blender. Archived from the original on 4 February 2005. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  3. Kot, Greg (2 June 1991). "The Sounds Of Elvis, From San Francisco And Beyond". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  4. Christgau, Robert. "The Costello Show (Featuring Elvis Costello): King of America". Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  5. White, Armond (10 May 1991). "Elvis Costello's albums". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  6. Deusner, Stephen M. (8 May 2005). "Elvis Costello: King of America". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
  7. "Elvis Costello: King of America". Q (108): 129. September 1995.
  8. "Elvis Costello". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 9 July 2007. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  9. Sheffield, Rob (2004). "Elvis Costello". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. London: Fireside Books. pp. 193–95. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
  10. "King of America CD". CD Universe. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 King of America (Media notes). Elvis Costello. Rhino Records. 2005. R2 74724.
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