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Thursday, February 24th, 2005

The Costello Show

It’s annoying when albums are reissued over and over again, ad nauseum, but every once in a while, it’s worth it. Rhino has been putting out all of Elvis Costello’s albums in deluxe double-disc editions, three at a time, over the last few years, even though Rykodisc had done the same, albeit in single-disc form, scarcely a decade and a half ago. How many times can you go back to the well? So while the Rhino packages have looked to be superior to the Ryko editions that I have, I haven’t been persuaded to buy any of them again. Until now.

One of my all-time favourite albums, King Of America, is next to get the Rhino treatment on April 26 and in a move befitting its stature in his catalog, it’s coming out on it’s own – not as part of a trio. While he made his name as the angry young punk of My Aim Is True and This Year’s Model, he’s always had a real fixation with classic American music. His first homage to this influence was the country covers album Almost Blue, which was initially reviled but is now regarded more favourably. 1986’s King Of America, however, was a classic from the get-go. Coming off his best album in years, Blood & Chocolate, Costello decided to enlist a band of crack session players (including Elvis Presley’s guitarist James Burton, Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo and legendary producer T-Bone Burnett) to record an amazing record of roots/folk/soul-rock that features some of his very best songwriting. He also distanced himself from his past work by crediting the album to The Costello Show, listing Declan Macmanus (his birth name) as producer and songwriter and crediting the self-deprecating Little Hands Of Concrete as performer for his instrumental parts.

Because of the length of the original album, the Ryko edition only added five bonus tracks (I think there may have been another edition that had even more material, but I don’t have it). The new Rhino edition does that one several times better, presenting the original album on a single disc but adding 21 additional cuts on the second disc. TWENTY-ONE. There’s demos, live cuts, unreleased material – it’s sure to be a helluva treat. Full details here.

Costello returned to themes of America with his last album, The Delivery Man, which was pretty good but didn’t inspire the same way that King Of America did, but it’s still getting a double-disc reissue. Yeah, it only came out last year, but that never stopped label bean-counters before. A deluxe edition of The Delivery Man will be out on March 1 and feature a second disc containing the seven tracks that first appeared on the Clarksdale Sessions 10″ (yes, vinyl) which came out late last month.

Rock Snob points the way to a couple of new singles available online – there’s a radio rip of “Refugees”, the first single from the still-untitled debut from The Tears’, which is pencilled in for a May 2 release in the UK. It’s not an especially good quality rip, I can’t tell if Bernard’s guitar is effected or just suffering from a low bitrate, but the song’s alright. Brett and Bernard talk about the song with NME.

Also worth listening to is “River (Depot Song)”, taken from the new Longwave album There’s A Fire. It’s due out sometime this Spring and if this track is representative of the record, it’ll be a good one. Production by the legendary John Leckie is also a plus. There’s also some non-album tracks on the website jukebox that are worth a listen. It’s too bad better judgement has gotten the best of me and I’ve decided not to go to their March 16 show at Lee’s Palace… I hope they come back as many times as they did for The Strangest Things (at least three, by my count).

Can’t make The Futureheads show at Lee’s this Sunday? Fret not, you can also see them on April 23 at the Kool Haus with Hot Hot Heat and Louis XIV. I think HHH is headlining, but I’m not sure. Either way, this show will be spastic with a capital spaz.

The SxSW music schedules are up. Oh my God my head is exploding. And now I really wish I was going to be there on the 16th, as well…

The State talks to Neko Case about making The Tigers Have Spoken. From LHB.

M Ward tells The Toronto Star (bugmenot: wow@mail.com/sowhat) how he yearns for the simpler days of radio. Maybe he’ll tell the audience the same thing on Sunday night when he plays the El Mocambo.

More reasons Charlotte Hatherley is awesomeness – great taste in music (obvs). Via Unca Grambo.

Blog Up conducts an interview with Yo La Tengo in two languages! Well, I doubt they asked the same questions in both languages, but still. It’s the first interview I’ve seen that looks like a Canadian cereal box.

np – Asobi Seksu / Asobi Seksu

By : Frank Yang at 9:21 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. ts says:

    omg – i’m going to sxsw and now the sched has put me into a mad panic….the sched is crazy…help! as much as i want to see new stuff, how can one not want to see the stuff that’s coming to Toronto!!

  2. Andrew says:

    Not to be a total rock geek, but King of America actually came out in 1985, and Blood & Chocolate followed in 1986. That was followed by three years in the wilderness of Ireland, growing a Rick Rubin-esque beard.

    Hmm, Costello produced by Rubin…that could be interesting!

  3. Frank says:

    hmm, AMG lists both B&C and KoA as coming out in 1986, and has B&C listed before KoA in the discography. I won’t argue, though – with all the reissues, there’s no small amount of confusion as to what edition they’re taking their info from.

    Anyway, B&C and KoA are both brilliant albums.

  4. Frank says:

    and yeah, sxsw, I’m being fairly ruthless in choosing who to see and not see. The only almost-certainties are that I’ll be at La Zona Rosa on Thursday for Futureheads/Doves and at Stubb’s on Saturday for Aimee Mann/Son Volt. I don’t know if I’ll risk trying to get out and back in between those acts, though, which means I’ll likely see Hot Hot Heat and the Wallflowers as well.

    Friday is surprisingly wide-open, though.

  5. Frank says:

    and I put everything in my palm pilot. it’s now completely incomprehensible.

  6. orlando says:

    thursday is the day from hell at sxsw. having to choose is very hard.friday is pretty tough too. atleast bloc party are playing 3 days in a row thank god.

  7. horace says:

    blood and chocolate and king of america are good and everything, but armed forces is his best. right? YES!!!!!

    1. armed forces

    2. trust

    3. this year’s model

    but i guess i just really love the really poppy stuff. everyone must own the rhino editions.

  8. Andrew says:

    elviscostello.com solves the mystery: KoA came out in February 1986, B&C followed in September 1986. That’s an impressive year by anyone’s standards!

  9. Torr says:

    Where’s that Longwave song from? I can’t find it for download at their site.

  10. thomaus says:

    Or, one could just pull out the LPs (age showing) and look at the 1986 copyright on the back of both KoA and B&C. What’s really bizarre is that the photo above is from neither on the back nor front of the album. Similar Elvi heads adorn both sides, but neither one matches. Where’d it come from?

    Just so everybody knows, IbMePdErRoIoAmL (or Imperial Bedroom) is the best album. Good songs thoughout all the others, but IB is the Sgt. Pepper of his career. Votes for worst? (or is that too obvious – North)

  11. Frank says:

    the above photo comes from the inside cover of the Rykodisc insert. I didn’t scan it, I found it online, but it was the one I was looking for since I’d seen it on the CD art.

    Imperial Bedroom? I should give that another listen. I got a whole slew of the Rkyo reissues in a short span of time and really haven’t given a lot of them the attention they probably deserve – mainly everything from Get Happy! to King Of America is kind of a blur to me.

    Torr – I have no idea, Pop Tart linked it off her site and I copied the link. I hope Longwave redoes their website for the new album, the current one is atrocious.

  12. Chris says:

    I can attest that King of America came first as I bought it a couple weeks within its release and my bro bought Blood & Chocolate later in the year (oh, and AMG isn’t always to be trusted on these things).

    Worst EC album is Goodbye Cruel World.

  13. ts says:

    Friday – wide open? I’d love to plant myself at the Austin Music Hall for Mavis/Blind Boys/Robert Randolph. But that would get in the way of Calexico, The Woggles, Robyn Hitcock, Centro-matic, Alejandro Escovedo. Okay – you’re right, it’s not as bad as the other days. And most can be seen at day parties.

  14. Frank says:

    yeah, by "wide open", I meant there’s no no-brainer place to be like for Thurs and Sat. I didn’t by any means mean to imply there was nothing going on, it means I’ll actually have some tough choices to make that night.