Mighty Like a Rose

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Mighty Like A Rose is the 13th studio album by the British rock singer and songwriter Elvis Costello, released in 1991 on compact disc as Warner Brothers 26575. The title is presumably a reference to the pop standard "Mighty Lak' a Rose", and although that song does not appear on the album, the words of its first stanza are quoted in the booklet of the 2002 reissue.[13]:23 It peaked at No. 5 on the UK Albums Chart, and at No. 55 on the Billboard 200.

Mighty Like a Rose
Elvis Costello - Mighty Like a Rose.jpg
Studio album by
Released14 May 1991
LabelWarner Bros.
Rhino (19 November 2002 Reissue)
ProducerElvis Costello, Mitchell Froom, Kevin Killen
Elvis Costello chronology
Mighty Like a Rose
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic2/5 stars[3]
Blender3/5 stars[4]
Chicago Tribune2.5/4 stars[5]
Christgau's Consumer GuideC+[6]
Entertainment WeeklyA−[7]
Los Angeles Times4/4 stars[8]
Q5/5 stars[10]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[11]
Uncut4/5 stars[12]


The album was initially intended to be released under Costello's birth name, Declan MacManus, as the singer had grown tired of the Elvis Costello pseudonym. Record label pressures, however, won the day and the release was as an Elvis Costello record.

Mighty Like a Rose continues in the vein of Costello's previous album Spike from 1989, although with Mitchell Froom taking over the producer's chair from T-Bone Burnett. This time, the tracks were recorded in one location, Ocean Way in Hollywood, with orchestral and vocal overdubs taking place at Westside Studios in London.[13]:26 Two more songs from his collaboration with Paul McCartney appear, "Playboy to a Man" and a song selected as a single, "So Like Candy".

Costello refers to this as an angry record, recorded in the aftermath of the Gulf War.[13]:3 The opening track, "The Other Side of Summer" was designed as a Beach Boys pastiche after their style in the early 1970s.[13]:5 The track "Invasion Hit Parade" features a trumpet solo by Costello's father, Ross MacManus. The album also features "Broken", a song written by his wife at the time, Cait O'Riordan, to whom the album is dedicated.

The lead single, "The Other Side of Summer", peaked at No. 43 on the UK Singles Chart. Although it missed the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, it reached No. 1 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart and No. 40 on the Album Rock Tracks chart. The second single, "So Like Candy", did not chart in either nation.

Release historyEdit

The album was released initially on compact disc in 1991. As part of the Rhino Records reissue campaign for Costello's back catalogue from Demon/Columbia and Warners, it was re-released in 2002 with 17 additional tracks on a bonus disc. Several of these were recorded at Costello's home.[13]:26

Track listingEdit

All songs written by Elvis Costello, except where noted; track lengths taken from Rhino 2002 reissue.

Original releaseEdit

  1. "The Other Side of Summer" – 3:56
  2. "Hurry Down Doomsday (The Bugs Are Taking Over)" (Declan MacManus, Jim Keltner) – 4:05
  3. "How to Be Dumb" – 5:14
  4. "All Grown Up" – 4:16
  5. "Invasion Hit Parade" – 5:34
  6. "Harpies Bizarre" – 3:44
  7. "After the Fall" – 4:38
  8. "Georgie and Her Rival" – 3:38
  9. "So Like Candy" (Paul McCartney, MacManus) – 4:36
  10. "Interlude: Couldn't Call It Unexpected No. 2" – 0:22
  11. "Playboy to A Man" (McCartney, MacManus) – 3:20
  12. "Sweet Pear" – 3:36
  13. "Broken" (Cait O'Riordan) – 3:37
  14. "Couldn't Call It Unexpected No. 4" – 3:50

2002 bonus discEdit

Tracks 2, 9–13, and 15–17 are solo demo recordings.

  1. "Just Another Mystery" – 4:15
  2. "Sweet Pear" – 3:46
  3. "Couldn't Call It Unexpected No. 4" – 4:18 live at Great Woods 21 June 1991
    • issued as a b-side to "So Like Candy" single
  4. "Mischievous Ghost" (with Mary Coughlan) – 5:47
  5. "St. Stephen's Day Murders" (Costello, Paddy Moloney) (with The Chieftains) – 3:25
  6. "The Other Side of Summer" – 4:06 recorded for MTV Unplugged 3 June 1991
  7. "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror" – 4:43 recorded for MTV Unplugged 3 June 1991
  8. "Hurry Down Doomsday (The Bugs Are Taking Over)" (Costello, Keltner) – 4:18 recorded for MTV Unplugged 3 June 1991
  9. "All Grown Up" – 4:36
  10. "Georgie and Her Rival" – 3:22
  11. "Forgive Her Anything" – 4:02
  12. "It Started to Come to Me" – 2:48
  13. "I Still Miss Someone/The Last Town I Painted" (Johnny Cash/Roy Cash Jr., Buddy Word) – 2:47
  14. "Put Your Big Toe in the Milk of Human Kindness" (with Rob Wasserman) – 4:10
    • released on Trios
  15. "Invasion Hit Parade" – 4:21
  16. "Just Another Mystery" – 3:43
  17. "Broken" (O'Riordan) – 3:22


Additional personnelEdit


Chart (1991) Peak
UK Albums Chart 5
The Billboard 200 55
Year Single Chart Position
1991 "The Other Side of Summer" UK Singles Chart 43
Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 40
Billboard Modern Rock Tracks 1


  1. ^ Blackwell, Mark (May 1991). "Mighty Like a Rose". Spin. p. 79.
  2. ^ John Floyd (11 July 1996). "Still The King". Miami New Times. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  3. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Mighty Like a Rose – Elvis Costello". AllMusic. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  4. ^ Wolk, Douglas (March 2005). "Elvis Costello: Mighty Like a Rose". Blender. Archived from the original on 4 February 2005. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  5. ^ Kot, Greg (16 May 1991). "Elvis Costello: Mighty Like a Rose (Warner)". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  6. ^ Christgau, Robert (2000). "Elvis Costello: Mighty Like a Rose". Christgau's Consumer Guide: Albums of the '90s. Macmillan Publishers. ISBN 0-312-24560-2. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  7. ^ White, Armond (10 May 1991). "Mighty Like a Rose". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
  8. ^ Willman, Chris (12 May 1991). "Costello's 'Rose' a Warm Tour de Force". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  9. ^ Ellen, Barbara (18 May 1991). "Imperial Boredom". NME.
  10. ^ Snow, Mat (June 1991). "Vengeful". Q (57).
  11. ^ Garbarini, Vic (16 May 1991). "Mighty Like a Rose". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  12. ^ Hasted, Nick (January 2003). "Snide effects". Uncut (68): 138.
  13. ^ a b c d e Costello, Elvis. Mighty Like A Rose. Rhino Records R2 78189, 2002, liner notes.