When I Was Cruel is Elvis Costello's 19th album, recorded in 2001 and 2002 and released in the US by Island Records on 23 April 2002. Although officially a solo Costello album, this was the first album to feature his new band, The Imposters, whose only difference from his previous band, The Attractions, was the replacement of bassist Bruce Thomas, with whom Costello had feuded, with Davey Faragher (formerly of Cracker). The album includes the hits "45" and "15 Petals".
The song "45" is about being 45 years old, like Costello at the time it was written. (The song also features Costello's penchant for multiple meanings, referencing the year 1945, .45 caliber pistols, and 45 rpm records.)