A bit from the Rolling Stone review:
Now that New Wave is nostalgia and Elvis Costello has become respectable enough to serve as Paul McCartney's songwriting partner, you might assume that Elvis isn't angry anymore. But that would be a not-so-brilliant mistake. Spike – Costello's first new album after an uncharacteristically long two-year layoff – is a far-flung sampler of his musical genius, a fascinating effort informed by its creator's justified frustration that his genius is not more widely recognized.
"You're nobody 'til everybody in this town thinks you're a bastard," Elvis sings in the chorus of Spike's opening number, "... This Town ..." Even the album's surreal, garish cover – with Costello as a sinister-looking clown, labeled as "The Beloved Entertainer" – seems to be Costello's defensive way of mocking the very concept of being a popular entertainer.
...as Spike makes clear, Costello remains an astonishing talent. While less cohesive than his two 1986 albums – the justly lauded King of America and the underappreciated Blood & Chocolate – Spike is more ambitious.
The BBC aired a program back in '89 devoted to Spike. You can see that here.