Elvis Costello Releasing Three-Volume, 35xCD Singles Collection
"My god, it's full of b-sides" --Arthur C. Clarke
[Posted Thursday, November 6th, 2003 02:00:00 Pitchfork Central Time]
Josh Bauchner and Will Bryant report:
Yeah, you read that right: this week Demon Records released a three-volume,
35 CD, 97-track retrospective of Elvis Costello's UK singles drawing from
the wealth of seven- and twelve-inchers produced in his first ten years of
commercial activity, 1977-1987. Each singles box will contain twelve CD's
(actually, the third box has just eleven), each with facsimile packaging
(cardsleeves with the original artwork) as that of the original single,
with the tracks originally included on the seven-inch and/or twelve-inch.
Singles Costello released under various noms des plume including The
Imposter, The Coward Brothers, The Costello Show, and The MacManus Gang are
included in the second and third boxes.
The first box contains all of Costello's early singles from My Aim Is True
on through Get Happy!!, including three 1977 live tracks that backed
"Watching The Detectives" and a live version of the Damned's "Neat Neat
Neat." The box also includes a live "Miracle Man" that originally appeared
on the synth-heavy U.S. single version of "Alison," though the offending
mix itself is excluded. Most of Costello's early b-sides were album tracks
and/or later disseminated on your pick of singles compilations, including
1980's U.S.-oriented collection Taking Liberties and its UK counterpart,
Ten Bloody Marys and Ten How's Your Fathers. Both compilations have gone
out of print; most (but not all) of the b-sides are included on Rhino's
exhaustive series of double-disc Costello reissues.
The second box is somewhat more substantial, with the most attractive lures
being the full set of b-sides from 1982's "I'm Your Toy (Hot Burrito #1)"
single. In addition to the live-with-orchestra version of the Gram
Parsons/Flying Burrito Brothers classic, the single on the box restores
Almost Blue outtakes that have never appeared on CD, including versions of
The Browns' "Wondering," Janis Martin's "Blues Keep Calling," and Loretta
Lynn's "Honky Tonk Girl." The next-to-last disc in the set is also notable,
as it contains "Party Party," a lightweight 1982 single written in support
of a forgettable '80s British ripoff of Animal House. Costello has all but
disavowed the song, which subsequently has received much more attention
from bootleggers and diehard fans than it rightfully deserves.
The third box is notable mainly for its wealth of no-doubt-hilarious '80s
dance mixes from Costello's most artistically challenged period, between
Punch The Clock and Blood and Chocolate. Some of the juicier extracts
include a live radio broadcast of "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" from
1986, the Coward Brothers' cover of Leon Payne's "They'll Never Take Her
Love From Me" (the brothers in question actually consisting of Costello and
T-Bone Burnett), and an acoustic version of "I Hope You're Happy Now"
passed over twice by reissues of Blood and Chocolate (Costello must really
have it in for that one). Here's the complete tracklists (don't forget to
Singles, Vol. 1:
Disc one: "Less Than Zero" [single mix] /"Radio Sweetheart" [single mix]
Disc two: "Alison" /"Welcome To The Working Week"
Disc three: "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes" /"Mystery Dance"
Disc four: "Watching The Detectives" /"Blame It On Cain" [live] /"Mystery
Dance" [live] /"Miracle Man" [live]
Disc five: "(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea" /"You Belong To Me"
Disc six: "Stranger In The House" /"Neat Neat Neat" [live]
Disc seven: "Pump It Up" /"Big Tears"
Disc eight: "Radio Radio" /"Tiny Steps"
Disc nine: "Talking In The Dark" /"Wednesday Week"
Disc ten: "Oliver's Army" /"My Funny Valentine"
Disc eleven: "Accidents Will Happen" /"Talking In The Dark" /"Wednesday
Disc twelve: "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down" /"Girls Talk"
Singles, Vol. 2:
Disc one: "High Fidelity"/ "Getting Mighty Crowded"/ "Clowntime Is Over
Disc two: "New Amsterdam"/ "Dr Luther's Assistant"/ "Ghost Train"/ "Just A
Disc three: "Clubland"/ "Clean Money"/ "Hoover Factory"
Disc four: "From A Whisper To A Scream"/ "Luxembourg"
Disc five: "Good Year For The Roses"/ "Your Angel Steps Out Of Heaven"
Disc six: "Sweet Dreams"/ "Psycho" [live]
Disc seven: "I'm Your Toy (Hot Burrito #1)" [live]/ "Cry Cry Cry"/
"Wondering"/ "My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You"/ "Blues Keep Calling"/
"Honky Tonk Girl"
Disc eight: "You Little Fool"/ "Big Sister"/ "The Stamping Ground"
Disc nine: "Man Out Of Time"/ "Town Cryer" [alternate version]/ "Imperial
Disc ten: "From Head To Toe"/ "The World Of Broken Hearts"
Disc eleven: "Party Party"/ "Imperial Bedroom"
Disc twelve: "Pills And Soap"/ "Pills And Soap" [extended version]
Singles, Vol. 3:
Disc one: "Everyday I Write The Book" /"Heathen Town" /"Night Time"
/"Everyday I Write The Book" [extended mix]/ "Everyday I Write The Book"
[special version]/ "Everyday I Write The Book" [instrumental]
Disc two: "Let Them All Talk" /"The Flirting Kind" /"Let Them All Talk"
Disc three: "Peace In Our Time" /"Withered And Died"
Disc four: "I Wanna Be Loved" /"Turning The Town Red" /"I Wanna Be Loved"
[extended Smoochy 'N'Runny version] /"I Wanna Be Loved" [version
Disc five: "The Only Flame In Town" /"The Comedians" /"Baby It's You" [with
Nick Lowe]" /"The Only Flame In Town [version discotheque]" /"Pump It Up"
[1984 dance mix]
Disc six: "The People's Limousine" /"They'll Never Take Her Love From Me"
Disc seven: "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" /"Baby's Got A Brand New
Hairdo" /"Get Yourself Another Fool" /"Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" [live]
Disc eight: "Tokyo Storm Warning (Part 1)" /"Tokyo Storm Warning (Part 2)"
/"Black Sails In The Sunset"
Disc nine: "I Want You" /"I Hope You're Happy Now" [acoustic version]
Disc ten: "Blue Chair" [single version] /"American Without Tears No.2"
[Twilight version] /"Shoes Without Heels"
Disc eleven: "A Town Called Big Nothing (Really Big Nothing)" /"Return To
Big Nothing" /"A Town Called Big Nothing (The Long March)"
Surely Costello is the hardest working man in rock and sappy jazz ballads,
as evidenced by his almost never-ending tour of the U.S., Japan, and
Europe. He is currently supporting his newest work, North, of course, the
jazzy and orchestral buzzkill of a record that currently resides at the
number one position on the Billboard Traditional Jazz Albums Chart, as
touted by Costello's official website-- tip-top job, mate, congrats from
all of us Pitchforkers!
According to John Everingham, the all-knowing webmaster of
www.elviscostello.info, a larger tour is being planned for 2004 in support
of North, and Costello will be hitting up one of the few continents he
missed last time around: the land that time forgot, also known as
Australia. Also planned for 2004 is an orchestral release, A Midsummer
Night's Dream. Stealing from the Bard now are ya, Elvis? Dirty bastard
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.: Elvis Costello Info: http://www.elviscostello.info
.: Elvis Costello: http://www.elviscostello.com