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Old 10-19-2009, 01:10 PM   #121 (permalink)
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2004 - The Delivery Man

Rating: 8.5/10
Sampler link

2006 - The River In Reverse

Rating: 9/10
Sampler link

2008 - Momofuku

Rating: 6/10
Sampler link

2009 - Secret, Profane and Sugarcane

Rating: 7.5/10
Sampler link

*Glossary of ratings*
1-3/10 = Not worth the jewel case it comes in.
4-5/10 = Strictly for completists only.
6-7/10 = Solid, but not truly brilliant.
8/10 = Very good.
9/10 = Fantastic.
10/10 = Essential.
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Old 12-20-2009, 11:22 AM   #123 (permalink)
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Odds and Sods

What it says on the tin really. I'm thinking of whichever threads I've got going on here and how I don't really feel like contributing to them at the minute so, looking back at this, I've realised that there's a whole chunk of Elvis Costello's back-catalogue that I haven't even glanced over with this thread. Those are, of course, the bits that don't really fit in with the official studio album discography. So, in a nutshell, in this section I'll take you through the best of the man's DVDs, live albums, one-off collaborations and so on that don't fit in with the rest of the guy's discography.

I'll be adding to this with whatever I feel like whenever I feel like it so, no, they aren't in any order!

Starting with...

Elvis Costello & Bill Frisell
Deep Dead Blue
1995, Warner Bros Records, recorded live @ the Royal Festival Hall, London

1. Weird Nightmare [Mingus]
2. Love Field [Costello]
3. Shamed Into Love [Costello]
4. Gigi [Lerner/Loewe]
5. Poor Napoleon [Costello]
6. Baby Plays Around [O'Riordan/Costello]
7. Deep Dead Blue [Costello/Frisell]

Nowadays it's fairly much common practice for a non-classical musician to curate epic annual Meltdown Festival on the south bank of the Thames but, when Elvis Costello was approached the festival's organiser's for the job, 'til then it'd been purely an event in which to celebrate classical music. Since then of course we've had people such as Morrissey, David Bowie, Nick Cave, Scott Walker and Jarvis Cocker, even Massive Attack and John Peel doing the job, but it was hardly the norm back then. For those of you reading this and wondering what the hell I'm on about, as curator of the Meltdown Festival, it's one's job to select a fairly large and diverse mix of music, art, performance and film to take place over the course of the week. Not only did this give Costello a chance to call on performers like Jeff Buckley the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Jazz Passenger, friends like Steve Nieve and Marc Ribot among so many others to play sets (much of the time with Costello himself), but it also gave him the chance to show off his growing passion for classical music with a few compositions of his own.

More relevantly though, Costello had himself quite the hands-on approach as curator, not only personally attending each and every performance but also singing a ridiculous songs over the course of the festival (I forget the exact figures), and seven of those were with prolific jazz guitarist Bill Frisell. Those seven songs are, it goes without saying, the same seven that make up this limited-release live album. To give you some sense of perspective as to how much else Costello did during the festival, another official release spawned from it (which I may get round to sometime) was a six-disc recording of his sets with his long-time collaborator and friend Steve Nieve.

Anyway, the night of June 25th Costello and Frisell, armed only with the latter's electric guitar, took to the stage and went their way about the above, fairly modest setlist, comprised of a bunch of oldies from Costello's repertoire, a couple of covers and a couple of new songs. The result is much better than I expected upon getting this album for myself, as there's a very unqiue sound to Frisell's guitar and, set alongside Costello's signature vocal, it sets up a fairly ghostly, cold and downbeat vibe. The opening rendition of Charles Mingus' Weird Nightmare illustrates this perfectly, what with all that talk of 'weird nightmare, why must you torment me' and all that. This one would've been good for the night-driving comp now that I think of it. Oh well. By the time Love Field comes around, we see what a partnership these guys were, as what was once a rather rubbish song from Costello's very own dated 80s fluff-fest (Goodbye Cruel World) goes through a real transformation for the better here, really doing so much to bring out the desperation and sorrow in the lyric than its studio treatment did all those years earlier. Shamed Into Love was a newly-penned song written for a fella called Ruben Blades (no, I don't have a clue either!), and is another slow, sorrowful number that fits the vibe suggested by the album's title like a glove. Like the cover of Gigi after it, it keeps that ghostly, eerie kind of vibe going, wherein once again Frisell's strange ability to make his guitar sound like a synthesizer in places does the song a whole world of good. In that sense, yet more very good work is made of Blood and Chocolate's Poor Napoleon, although this version of course lacks Steve Nieve's distinctive organ lines, and therefore isn't quite as good as its original version. Originally written with his missus for the fantastic Spike, Baby Plays Around is the one Costello original here that sounds a lot like its studio original, and once more Frisell's guitar and the way it plays off Costello's vocal performance works so well. Deep Dead Blue, another new song unveiled here and a co-write between the pair is more or less every strength of the album rolled into one brooding, haunting package and was, like Shamed Into Love, never released in any other format than this one.

It's a wonderful set and really is quite an extraordinary album, especially as I actually didn't expect to be that amazed by it when I first got my grimy paws on it. A lot of the things I mention in this part of the trhead are gonna be more in the interests of hardcore Costello fans, but this one truly isn't. As a body of work it really is a very dark, brooding effort, and Bill Frisell's work on the guitar is really quite something. Basically, so long as you can stand Costello's voice, I'd recommend this to anyone.

There aren't any videos on youtube of the pair in action except for this one. It's a lot more up-tempo and not really as interesting as what you'll find on the album, but should give you a vague idea of what these guys are about anyway...
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Old 12-21-2009, 12:46 PM   #124 (permalink)
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I'd love to hear the full content of the Costello/Frisell set. To my knowledge the EP has never been released in the USA. Frisell is an awesome guitar player. In the late 80s and early 90s Frisell was associated with the avant garde downtown jazz movement in New York and recorded a couple of albums with John Zorn. Frisell's distinctive playing can also be heard as Costello's session guitarist on the Juliet Letters (1993) and The Sweetest Punch: The Songs of Costello and Bacharach (1999). Frisell's playing is unique because the timbre of his Fender guitar swells and breathes like saxaphone and often has the lush tonality of a pedal steel guitar.

This is a bit off topic but has a marginal relevance to an overview of Costello's music. I recently heard Elvis Costello mention on his syndicated show Spectacle that his father a jazz and big band vocalist of some noteriety. Elvis went so far as to say his father was (and still is) a better vocalist than he is.

Costello's claim got me curious and I found out his father's name was Ross McManus and I came across this amazing YouTube video of Ross McManus playing conga and singing Patsy Girl with the Joe Loss Band at the 1964 New Musical Express Big Beat Show. The song was a minor bluebeat/ska hit in England. The physical resembalance of Elvis Costello to his father is striking. McManus really does have a fantastic voice and Costello's vocal phrasing is very similar to his father's.

I'm guessing that many Brits are already familiar with Ross McManus' musical career and his paternal relationship to Elvis Costello but McManus is virtually unknown in America.

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Old 12-21-2009, 02:18 PM   #125 (permalink)
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There definitely is quite a resemblance. I mean, blimey, they even wear the same kinda glasses! I've read about Ross McManus aka Elvis Costello's Dad's music career before, but hadn't heard anything of his work before now, so thanks for that post. He has, of course, got a much deeper voice than his son, but I can hear a resemblance between the pair of them there as well.

Speaking of Ross and Declan (aka Costello), I don't know how many of you have seen this old R White's ad before, but it was filmed in '73 and not only features Ross' singing, but that bloke with the glasses there is, you guessed it, a pre-fame Elvis Costello...



^ It is, of course, hideous, like just about every other TV ad out there, but an interesting little curio.

I'm a bit clueless about Frisell's career when he hasn't played with Costello, but as I said earlier, he really does have this very authentic, unique sound to his guitar which enhances that setlist so much. I'm not sure how you feel about downloading stuff, but if you want a link to the album, PM me and I wouldn't mind sending a link your way.
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Old 12-26-2009, 01:06 PM   #126 (permalink)
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used to listen to "I want you" in repeat mode whenever a big breakup occurred :-P

Elvis Costello is one of the best 'makes you wanna laugh/cry/any other emotion' artist of our time
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Old 12-29-2009, 05:21 PM   #127 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michelle_elle View Post
used to listen to "I want you" in repeat mode whenever a big breakup occurred :-P

Elvis Costello is one of the best 'makes you wanna laugh/cry/any other emotion' artist of our time
Damn straight I Want You can actually be a reasonably unsettling song as well - very lo-fi and very bloody miserable. And speaking of good breakup tunes, this one gets pretty close to the bone for me;



^ Crap album, great song (that 80s production style actually enhances it for me.

Also, providing I can find the thing, I'll be going over one of the man's DVDs here fairly soon(ish)...
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Old 01-06-2010, 04:23 PM   #128 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michelle_elle View Post
used to listen to "I want you" in repeat mode whenever a big breakup occurred :-P

Elvis Costello is one of the best 'makes you wanna laugh/cry/any other emotion' artist of our time
I like you; please stay at the forum.

My dad was actually seeing Elvis Costello once, at an acoustic set, and he was in the middle of I Want You, at an almost heart-breakingly emotional moment, when some ******* in the audience just screamed out "BUDWEISER!"

Bulldog- Do it! I don't have any dvds by him
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Old 01-08-2010, 03:18 PM   #129 (permalink)
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I've only got enough to count on one hand, so I'm not doing much better than yourself! There are only a couple of them that are really worth having anyway, at least with the official releases anyway. And, yeah, I was gonna have this review done and dusted by now, but I've been quite a sick guy lately (still not quite 100%), and when I haven't been I've been working, so haven't really had the time. I'll update this thread with something more worthwhile than yet another 'I'll update this thread soon' post, don't you worry
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Old 01-15-2010, 05:50 PM   #130 (permalink)
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Well, this thread made me want to check out Elvis Costello.
And i've got to say, I've been listening to Trust today, and I have no regrets.
I'll have to give it a lot more listens, but i liked the dancing beat in Clublands and the Lover's Walk. I also enjoyed You'll Never Be A Man, Shot With His Own Gun (sounds very "poet like" to me for some reason), Fish 'N' Chips Paper, Gloomy Sunday (great song, great lyrics) and Boy With A Problem.
I can't believe i missed this great artist/lyricist. Looking forward to check out more of his work, although i want to find more gems in this one...i mentioned few highlights. I can't believe the only thing i knew from him was a version of She...
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