Goodbye Cruel World (Elvis Costello album)

Goodbye Cruel World was Elvis Costello's ninth album overall and the eighth with his backing band the Attractions. It was released in 1984 by F-Beat Records in the UK and Columbia in the US.

Goodbye Cruel World
Studio album by
Released18 June 1984
RecordedFebruary 1984
Sarm West Studios, London
GenreSynthpop, power pop, new wave
LabelF-Beat (UK)
Columbia (US)
Rykodisc (28 February 1995 Reissue)
Rhino (3 August 2004 Reissue)
Hip-O (1 May 2007 Reissue)
ProducerClive Langer and Alan Winstanley
Elvis Costello and the Attractions chronology
Punch the Clock
Goodbye Cruel World
The Best of Elvis Costello and The Attractions

Tensions within the band—notably between Costello and bassist Bruce Thomas—were beginning to tell, and Costello announced his retirement and the break-up of the group shortly before they were to record Goodbye Cruel World. Costello later said that in making it, they had "got it as wrong as you can in terms of the execution".

Costello wrote at his official website: "I think the first time we ever got really attacked for a new release apart from when we first started was Goodbye Cruel World, and to be honest I knew it wasn't a good record by the time ... It was the only one I was tempted to ... I was committed to it. I'd spent too much money on it to not release it and I thought on balance the good things that I'd got wrong in the studio that were in the song writing probably outweighed the bad things that I'd allow to happen in the production, which is not distracting anything from the effort that Clive Langer made to do the best. I mean, I announced to them that it was the last record I was ever going to make before we went in the studio. I decided to quit for all kinds of weird personal reasons ... I was really down about lots of other things and I really just decided I wanted to do this one record, and I was asking them to make a record they weren't really set up to do, which was essentially a 'live-in-the-studio' record. And then we had a loss of nerve about that and started to edge it back towards the kind of production they did anyway. But the damage had been done, we'd started out to record a folk-rock record, which is what it originally sounded like, which you can hear in some of the more soulful songs, like Home Truth, which is an unbelievably painful, true song. I made Clive Langer's life impossible, and I take full responsibility for the failure of the production, 'cause I was asking them one time to do one thing and the next to do another, and changing my mind every 15 minutes and driving everybody in the band mad. And really just getting it as wrong as you can in terms of the execution of what are basically a bunch of really good songs."[1]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [2]
Blender     [3]
Chicago Tribune    [4]
Entertainment WeeklyB[5]
Mojo     [6]
Q     [7]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [8]
Sounds     [9]
Uncut     [10]
The Village VoiceB+[11]

The album's production (by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, who also produced the previous Punch the Clock), was not in line with Costello's other works, relying heavily on electronics and an overall slick, trendy feel. Thus, the record is not regarded among his better works; Costello's liner notes to the 1995 reissue on Rykodisc open with the statement, "Congratulations! You've just purchased our worst album."

The album is represented on Elvis Costello compilation The Very Best of Elvis Costello, by the cover song "I Wanna Be Loved". For his own personally selected best-of compilation (Girls Girls Girls, which covers the years 1977 through 1986) "Love Field" is the only representative from this album, and appears only on the CD iteration of the collection.

Track listingEdit

"I Wanna Be Loved" is a cover of a Hi Records single by Teacher's Edition and features backing vocals by Green Gartside of Scritti Politti. "The Only Flame in Town" features vocals by Daryl Hall.

All songs written by Elvis Costello, except as indicated.

Side one
1."The Only Flame in Town"4:01
2."Home Truth"3:12
3."Room with No Number"4:13
4."Inch By Inch"2:29
5."Worthless Thing"3:04
6."Love Field"3:26
Side two
1."I Wanna Be Loved"Farnell Jenkins4:47
2."The Comedians" 2:36
3."Joe Porterhouse" 3:29
4."Sour Milk Cow Blues" 2:50
5."The Great Unknown"Costello, Clive Langer3:00
6."The Deportees Club" 2:54
7."Peace in Our Time" 4:06

Bonus tracks (1995 Rykodisc)Edit

  1. "Turning the Town Red" – 3:14
  2. "Baby It's You" (Burt Bacharach, Hal David, Barney Williams) – 3:11
  3. "Get Yourself Another Fool" (Ernest Tucker, Frank Heywood) – 4:01
  4. "I Hope You're Happy Now" – 2:51
  5. "The Only Flame in Town" (Live) – 4:16
  6. "Worthless Thing" (Live) – 3:11
  7. "Motel Matches" (Live) – 2:39
  8. "Sleepless Nights" (Live) (Felice Bryant, Boudleaux Bryant) – 2:39
  9. "Deportee" (Demo) – 3:22
  10. "Withered and Died" (Richard Thompson) – 3:14

Note: The Rykodisc version has the original tracks and bonus tracks on one CD. The Rhino version has two CDs with the original tracks on the first CD.

Bonus disc (2004 Rhino)Edit

  1. "The Only Flame in Town" (Alternate version) – 4:05
  2. "Young Boy Blues" (Doc Pomus, Phil Spector) – 3:27
  3. "Turning the Town Red" – 3:14
  4. "I Hope You're Happy Now" – 2:51
  5. "Tomorrow's (Just Another Day)" (Mike Barson, Carl Smyth) – 2:54
  6. "Get Yourself Another Fool" (Forrest, Heywood) – 4:03
  7. "Baby It's You (Burt Bacharach, Hal David) – 3:11
  8. "I Wanna Be Loved" (Demo version) (Jenkins) – 3:22
  9. "The Great Unknown" (Demo version) (Costello, Langer) – 2:35
  10. "She Loves the Jerk" (Demo version) (John Hiatt) – 3:10
  11. "Turning the Town Red" (Demo version) – 3:37
  12. "Peace in Our Time" (Demo version) – 3:30
  13. "Withered and Died" (Thompson) – 3:14
  14. "The Comedians" (Demo version) – 2:25
  15. "Inch By Inch" (Demo Version) – 2.11
  16. "Mystery Voice" (Demo version) – 2:23
  17. "Joe Porterhouse" (Demo version) – 3:19
  18. "The Town Where Time Stood Still" (Demo version) – 2:15
  19. "Blue Murder on Union Avenue" (Demo version) – 2:30
  20. "Home Truth" (Demo version) – 3:05
  21. "The Only Flame in Town" (Live) – 4:12
  22. "Worthless Thing" (Live) – 3:10
  23. "Sleepless Nights" (Live) (F. Bryant, B. Bryant) – 2:39
  24. "What I Like Most About You Is Your Girlfriend" (Live) (Jerry Dammers) – 2:10
  25. "Motel Matches" (Live) – 2:39
  26. "Love Field" (Live) – 3:21


The Attractions


The album credits keyboard player Steve Nieve with providing "random racket" under the name, "Maurice Worm".



Year Chart Position
1984 Billboard 200 35


Year Single Chart Position
1984 "The Only Flame in Town" Billboard Hot 100 56


  1. ^ Information page at
  2. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Goodbye Cruel World – Elvis Costello / Elvis Costello & the Attractions". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
  3. ^ Wolk, Douglas (March 2005). "Elvis Costello: Goodbye Cruel World". Blender. Archived from the original on 4 February 2005. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  4. ^ Kot, Greg (2 June 1991). "The Sounds Of Elvis, From San Francisco And Beyond". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  5. ^ White, Armond (10 May 1991). "Elvis Costello's albums". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  6. ^ Doyle, Tom (November 2018). "Band Substance". Mojo (300): 59.
  7. ^ Aizlewood, John (September 2004). "Elvis Costello & the Attractions: Almost Blue / Goodbye Cruel World / Elvis Costello: Kojak Variety". Q (218): 134.
  8. ^ Sheffield, Rob (2004). "Elvis Costello". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). London: Fireside Books. pp. 193–95. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
  9. ^ Williams, Jay (30 June 1984). "Cruel Summer". Sounds.
  10. ^ Roberts, Chris (September 2004). "Fifth phase of two-disc reissue series". Uncut (88): 113.
  11. ^ Christgau, Robert (30 October 1984). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 16 June 2016.

External linksEdit