Posts Tagged ‘Elvis Costello’

File:1975 Flip City Demos Bootleg front.jpg

A widely circulating bootleg, this is a demo tape of Costello’s early band Flip City, running through a few covers and some Costello originals. The sound is muddy and bass heavy, taken from a several generation copy, but of much historical importance to the Costello fan. Here are early versions of “Living in Paradise” and “Pay It Back” with different lyrics, and a venom-less take on “Radio Radio” called “Radio Soul.” Costello’s links with his idols (Gram Parsons, Randy Newman, Bob Dylan) are more explicit here then on his mature efforts and the cover of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” is a hoot. These songs are also found on the boots Aim to Please and Our Aim Is True with similar sound quality and only one track (“Imagination Is a Powerful Deceiver”) has ever made it on an official release.

Many of his alternative tracks, demos and b-sides have appeared on compilations (Taking Liberties comes to mind) and as bonus tracks on deluxe reissues of his earlier albums. Before Elvis’s first album, 1977’s My Aim Is True, Elvis, then known as Declan P. MacManus was in a band called Flip City. The band played the pub rock circuit in England, much like bands like Ducks Deluxe and Brinsley Schwarz, and though they never officially released anything, they did record three sessions worth of original and cover songs. These songs are interesting not only because of their historical significance, but also it gives a preview of some songs that would later appear on Costello albums in different, rewritten versions. Pay It Back and a early version of Miracle Man (Baseball Heroes) re-emerges on My Aim Is True, while Living In Paradise and a revamped version of Radio Radio (Radio Soul) appears on This Year’s Model. These Flip City demos have been around in bootleg form for years

I only found this because I heard the original version of “Third Rate Romance” on the radio and could barely remember who did it (The Amazing Rhythm Aces). There was also a very good Drifters version of the song on YT.  This version of “Pay It Back” is way better than the official recording,Third Rate Romance is such a natural song for Elvis Costello to cover; he really gravitates to story songs, especially country ones (eg. Different Finger, Motel Matches, Good Year For the Roses). I’ve always thought I’d eventually find him covering The Eagles’ “Lying Eyes”, but it hasn’t turned up so far.

Tracks: 0:00 Exiles Road 3:25 Baseball Heroes 6:17 Radio Soul 10:00 Imagination (Is A Powerful Deceiver) 13:36 Pay It Back 16:10 Radio Soul 20:22 Third Rate Romance 23:45 Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door 27:55 Packin’ Up 30:26 Please Mister Don’t Stop The Band 35:10 Exiles Road 38:22 Wreck On The Slide 42:06 On The Road 45:08 You Win Again 47:15 Sweet Revival

Flip City:
Declan P. MacManus – guitar, lead vocals
Mich Kent – bass, vocals
Steve Hazelhurst – guitar, vocals, keyboards, sax
Malcolm Dennis – drums (early session only)
Ian Powling – drums (last sessions)
Dickie Faulkner – percussion, vocals (last sessions)

Elvis Costello is a conceptual band-leader (The Attractions, The Confederates, The Imposters etc), and apparently innately turned his short stories ,lacerating tales of romantic frustrations, political expediency, hapless social climbing and all the rest into any form he wanted to. His first half-a-dozen records are almost concept albums, with Costello moving through genres as though they were time zones. Confident of his instincts and virtuosity, he has continued in this vein for more than 40 years, happy to dip in and out of styles and collaborate at will with Burt Bacharach on 1998’s Painted From Memory and Allen Toussaint on 2006’s The River In Reverse.

He’s been quiet of late, not helped by a recent cancer scare, which was an unnecessary interruption to his almost relentless touring schedule. Next month sees the release of a brand-new album, Called Look Now (probably because you should), it’s his first record he’s made with The Imposters since 2008 and his first new album since the well-reviewed 2013 Roots collaboration, Wise Up Ghost.

The last time Elvis Costello put out an album, he was backed by The Roots on 2013’s largely underrated and flat-out spectacular Wise Up Ghost! It saw the songwriter opening up his repertoire to a collaboration with hip hop’s most famous live band. Now five years later, Costello returns to the form that made him one of the most well-respected names in music. In tow, are The Imposters, a band whom he most recently recorded 2008’s Momofuku with, as well as legendary songwriter/pianist Burt Bacharach, a longtime collaborator of Costello’s who helped thread multiple tracks on the album. “I had all of the orchestrations and vocal parts in my head or on the page before we played a note,” the ever-methodical Costello said in a press release. And if latest single “Suspect My Tears,” is any indication, Look Now (out on Concord Records) promises more of Costello’s timeless lyricism through and through.

Costello says that he decided to make the record while touring last summer with the band, largely playing songs from his Imperial Bedroom album, and having spent a weekend with Look Now it’s easy to see the connection. The songs here are dense but ornate, complex but forthright, and every one of the 12 songs has a melody that you won’t be able to slip. Costello has been criticised in the last decade or so for failing to address his audience and by trying to distance himself from his past. And whether you subscribe to that or not, this new record is good enough to appeal to any Costello fan, regardless of when they joined his train.>There are co-writes with Bacharach, while one song – “Burnt Sugar Is So Bitter”, written with Carole King – sounds like the best thing that Steely Dan have written since Katy Lied.

“Unwanted Number” from the forthcoming album Look Now

Elvis Costello  has released a new video for his ballad “Suspect My Tears,” off his forthcoming album Look Now, out October. 12yj on Concord Records.

The artistic new video features a tragic love story told via a black-and-white, animated storyboard, which introduces limited colors by its closing.

“Suspect My Tears” was recorded by Grammy-winning producer Sebastian Krys with The Imposters, who include Steve Nieve (keyboards), Davey Faragher (bass) and Pete Thomas (drums). The track is augmented by jazz-bassoonist Michael Rabinowitz, and vocalists Kitten Kuroi and Brianna Lee.

Look Now is the first album Costello has made with The Imposters since the 2008 release of Momofuku, and his first new album since his 2013 collaboration with The Roots, Wise Up Ghost.

Costello will kick off an extensive U.S. tour with The Imposters next month.

As controversial as the next release of the Paul McCartney Archive Collection’s approach to “Flowers In The Dirt” has been, the official release of demos from McCartney’s writing sessions with Elvis Costello has made for some excitement as regards the release for Record Store Day. Some of those fateful “McCartney/McManus” demos are now slated for an extraordinary release.

Three unheard cassette demos, part of the much-maligned download-only portion of the deluxe box set (which will also feature previously released B-sides and remixes, instead of this content on a physical disc), have been announced as a cassette for the 10th annual Record Store Day celebration on April 22nd. Those demos are “I Don’t Want to Confess,” “Shallow Grave” and “Mistress and Maid”–for the first time “available in the same form as when Paul and Elvis first cut them directly to tape.”

In a statement, Paul said of these demos:

The demos are red hot off the skillet and that’s why we wanted to include them on this boxed set. What’s great about these songs is that they’ve just been written. So there’s nothing more hot off the skillet as I say. So that was the kind of great instant thing about them. I hadn’t listened to them in ages but when I did I knew we had to put them out. We made a little tape of them and sent them to Elvis, who loved them too. We said we should put out an EP or something and now the moment’s finally arrived.


'Black & White Night 30'

It’s 30 years since Roy Orbison’s iconic ’87 comeback gig and you can finally experience the show from hundreds of unseen angles with ‘Black & White Night 30’, reissue out February 24th.

Originally shot on seven cameras at the Coconut Grove Club in Los Angeles and broadcast as ‘Roy Orbison & Friends: A Black & White Night’, Roy’s son Alex and co-editor Luke Chalk have re-edited the entire performance from all the previously unseen angles. Almost every shot is brand new.

‘Black & White Night 30’ will be available on Blu-Ray, DVD and CD

Extras include a whole host of unreleased material, much of which was only rumoured to even exist. Previously unseen versions of ‘Oh Pretty Woman’ and ‘Blue Angel’ and footage of the subsequent ‘secret concert’ where Roy and the band returned to the stage to play five songs after the audience had left! All tracks have been freshly remastered by Richard Dodd.

There’s also a 33 minute documentary featuring rehearsal footage and interviews with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, k.d lang, Elvis Costello and more


Paul McCartney / Flowers in the Dirt

Last August, Paul McCartney announced his return to The Beatles‘ longtime home of Capitol Records, bringing all of his solo works beginning with the 1970’s McCartney into the fold of the Universal Music Group-owned label. Today, the long-awaited multi-format Archive Collection release of 1989’s “Flowers in the Dirt” has been announced for March 24th, 2017 .

Highlighted by four collaborations with Declan MacManus, a.k.a. Elvis Costello, Flowers in the Dirt featured productions by not only McCartney and MacManus, but also Mitchell Froom, Trevor Horn, David Foster, and Steve Lipson. Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour dropped in to lend guitar on “We Got Married,” and the legendary George Martin returned to write the string chart for “Put It There.” A Gold record in the U.S. and Platinum in the U.K., Flowers went to No. 1 in the U.K. and earned a Grammy nomination. A 1990 Japanese Tour Edition entitled Special Package added a disc of nine bonus tracks from throughout Macca’s solo career; a number of those tracks specific to Flowers, as well as other single versions, B-sides, and remixes, are present on the new set in download form only.

The upcoming reissue will, as per all titles in the long-running Archive Collection, be available in a variety of formats. All boast a remastered version of the original 13-track album (including the CD and cassette bonus track “Où est le Soleil?”) as the centerpiece, while the 3-CD/1-DVD Deluxe Edition Box Set and 2-CD Special Edition offer varying amounts of previously unreleased bonus tracks including the original demos performed by Macca and Elvis.

It’s a really special package featuring very cool and intimate demos made by Paul and Elvis Costello, who co-wrote a third of the album. We can’t wait to share those recordings with you, but until then, here’s Paul talking about what’s coming your way…

“The demos are red hot off the skillet and that’s why we wanted to include them on this boxed set. What’s great about these songs is that they’ve just been written. So there’s nothing more hot off the skillet as I say. So that was the kind of great instant thing about them. I hadn’t listened to them in ages but when I did I knew we had to put them out. We made a little tape of them and sent them to Elvis, who loved them too. We said we should put out an EP or something and now the moment’s finally arrived.”

Sessions for Flowers In The Dirt began in 1987 and the majority of the album was recorded at Paul’s Hog Hill Mill studio in East Sussex. During the sessions Elvis Costello convinced Paul to dig out his iconic Höfner bass for the first time in years – a suggestion McCartney recalls as, “unusual because I had sort of parked it. I had thought I had outgrown it. I started playing it again and never really looked back. It’s great that Elvis encouraged me to take it out.” In preparation for his first major world tour in years Paul was looking to capture songs he could take on the road with him. Paul told his band that he wouldn’t go out on tour unless he really liked the album. Looking back Paul recalls, “You’re always thinking, ‘Let’s get some new songs and take them on tour’ and you hope your new songs are going to work. Something like ‘My Brave Face’ would be a song that nobody knew at the start at the beginning of the tour and then everybody knew it at the end and it was the high spot of the whole tour.”

The original 13-track album was remastered for all the new configurations at Abbey Road Studios. The Deluxe Edition contains 18 bonus audio tracks across two discs, featuring previously unreleased demos, written and performed by Paul with Elvis Costello. Speaking about these tracks Paul said: “The demos are red hot off the skillet and that’s why we wanted to include them on this boxed set. What’s great about these songs is that they’ve just been written. So there’s nothing more hot off the skillet as I say. So that was the kind of great instant thing about them. I hadn’t listened to them in ages but when I did I knew we had to put them out. We made a little tape of them and sent them to Elvis, who loved them too. We said we should put out an EP or something and now the moment’s finally arrived.”

3-CD/1-DVD Deluxe Edition Box Set:

Remastered original album on CD 1;
Nine Paul and Elvis “Original Demos” on CD 2;
Nine “1988 Demos” on CD 3;
DVD featuring 10 music videos; three short films – Creating Flowers in the Dirt; and the original 1989 Put It There documentary as released on VHS;
Digital download of three “Cassette Demos” and 13 associated B-sides, single versions, and remixes;
Creating Flowers in the Dirt” and “Put It There” documentary;
112-page hardcover book;
32-page notebook of Paul’s original handwritten lyrics and notes;
Catalogue of Linda McCartney’s 1989 Flowers in the Dirt photo exhibition; and
64-page photobook of the music video shoot for “The One.”
2-CD Special Edition:

Remastered original album on CD 1; and
Nine Paul and Elvis “Original Demos” on CD 2.
2-LP Vinyl Edition:

12-track original vinyl album plus download of “Où est le Soleil?”;
Download card; and
Nine Paul and Elvis “Original Demos” on LP 2.

elvis costello my aim is true

Released this day July 22nd in 1977: Elvis Costello – My Aim Is True

On My Aim Is True, Elvis Costello’s’ raw energy comes through in a way that’s never completely recaptured on later records. While the songs range from mellow country twang to full-on, spitting assault, there’s a strange cohesiveness to the album simply by virtue of its rough, rushed feel. Although it’s a studio album, there’s a latent energy to Nick Lowe’s production that grants My Aim Is True all the immediacy of a live show. Recorded at Pathway Studios in London 1976-1977.

Elvis Costello’s debut album brought home to me just how timid Little Criminals really is. Costello’s best songs are anything but timid, but they’re as intelligent as some of Newman’s finest, as endearingly elusive in their meanings, and funny in the same bitter, self-deprecating manner. They are also, like Newman’s signature songs, very weird. Originally released on Stiff Records but reissued on various labels, Columbia, Demon Rykodisc, Rhino Records and Hip O, Singles released from the album

  1. Less Than Zero
    Released: 22 March 1977
  2. Alison
    Released: 21 May 1977
  3. “(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes”
    Released: 1977
  4. Watching the Detectives
    Released: 14 October 1977

Elvis Costello dartboard (pic credit Dick Wingate)

According to Costello’s own website, a second version of the album (with an identical track listing) was recorded over a 2-day period in July 1977. This second version was recorded by Elvis Costello and his new permanent backing band, The Attractions, with the intention of replacing the original tracks contained in My Aim Is True once the initial pressings had sold out. This never came to pass, however, and all released versions of the album continue to use the original recordings with members of Clover as the backing band. As well, although several reissues of My Aim Is True have featured various demos and 1977-era recordings as bonus tracks, the July 1977 album re-recordings have never been issued in any format.

On 8 November 2007, Costello reunited with the members of Clover from the original recording sessions to perform the songs from My Aim Is True. This marked the first ever (and to date only) live public performances of these songs by the original ensemble that recorded them. The event took place at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, and was a benefit for the Richard de Lone Special Housing Fund,

If one record perfectly encapsulated the ethos of Stiff Records, it is My Aim Is True. Combining Barney Bubbles’ iconic designs, Jake Riviera’s ingenious marketing slogans, Stiff’s irreverence and a unique artist, it did what the major labels had failed to do for years. It acknowledged that music fans deserved better and tapped into Britain’s deep-rooted culture of buying and collecting records. The Stiff template had been created and the bar set high.

Photographer Chris Gabrin had produced the black and white shots that had adorned the sleeves of ‘Less Than Zero’ and ‘Alison‘. However, it was Keith Morris who was invited to do the shoot for the album under Barney Bubbles’ direction. Bubbles reportedly threw Elvis Presley-like shapes around the room as the other Elvis struck a variety of poses against a pale backdrop. A picture of awkwardness in a jacket, open-neck shirt and tie, turned-up jeans, and National Health glasses, Costello was a geek years before it was chic. A vibrant yellow screen was placed over him for the initial run of 10,000, ensuring it would stand out in the racks and window displays of record shops. Then, when the album began to catch fire, Stiff made a discovery that would result in a collector’s dream. Riviera had gone with Bubbles to oversee the first run and found out that using different coloured inks wouldn’t cost more. He then demanded that every run of 5,000 copies be printed in a different colour.

Costello poster


There are some songs that we wish weren’t still relevant, But  “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, And Understanding” would now sound hopelessly dated, as if it were the relic of another time. Instead the song, written by Nick Lowe in 1974 and performed by his band Brinsley Schwarz, is as timely as it’s ever been, its searching questions begging for answers in this day and age now more than ever.

Nick Lowe, has said he originally intended the song to be tongue-in-cheek, only to rethink the tone along the way. “I wrote the song in 1973, and the hippie thing was going out, and everyone was starting to take harder drugs and rediscover drink,” he said. “Alcohol was coming back, and everyone sort of slipped out of the hippie dream and into a more cynical and more unpleasant frame of mind. And this song was supposed to be an old hippie, laughed at by the new thinking, saying to these new smarty-pants types, ‘Look, you think you got it all going on. You can laugh at me, but all I’m saying is ‘What’s so funny about peace, love, and understanding?’ And that was the idea of the song. But I think as I started writing it, something told me it was too good of an idea to make it into a joke. It was originally supposed to be a joke song, but something told me there was a little grain of wisdom in this thing, and not to mess it up.”

Adorned with Who-style power chords and Beach Boys-flavored harmonies, Brinsley Schwarz’s take on the song charges full-on into the breach even as Lowe begs us to stop and consider his pleas. His narrator attempts to navigate “this wicked world” and “searches for light in the darkness of insanity.” He admits that despair is never too far removed: “My spirit gets so downhearted sometimes.”

“Is all hope lost?” he wonders, and he laments about the ubiquity of “pain, hatred and misery.” Yet he suggests that the only way out of this malaise is vigilance, the kind that constantly presses and pushes for something better than the status quo, which he expresses via a series of queries: “So where are the strong?/ And who are the trusted?/ And where is the harmony?”

By keeping any kind of specifics out of his tale, Lowe ensured that his song would resonate in times of worldly turmoil or personal angst. It all builds to the scorching common sense of the refrain: “And each time I feel it slipping away, it just makes me want to cry/ What’s so funny about peace, love, and understanding.

Elvis Costello’s 1978 hard-charging, heart-on-sleeve version of the song, which was produced by Lowe, brought it to a wider audience and became one of Costello’s best-known recordings. Lowe, however, probably preferred the 1992 version by Curtis Stigers. Why? Because it appeared on the multi-platinum soundtrack to The Bodyguard, thus producing a royalties windfall for the writer.

In any case, “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, And Understanding” endures. Hopefully we’ll reach a day where we can appreciate the song based on its artistic merits alone and not because the title sounds like it could be the headline of an editorial in this morning’s newspaper rather than the lament of a songwriter written fortysomething years ago.


Bob Dylan came across a batch of lyrics from when he was recording the Basement Tapes with the Band – these were never put to music. These were passed to T Bone Burnett who has produced the album and put a band together to create music for these lyrics. The band is made up of Elvis Costello, Marcus Mumford, Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes) and Rhiannon Giddons (Carolina Chocolate Drops). It also features Johnny Depp on the lead single ‘Kansas City’ which features Marcus Mumford on the lead vocal.


Elvis Costello and his band The Attractions Peel Session recorded 25th July 1977 on BBC 1 Radio, The songs are “Red Shoes”, “Less Than Zero”, “Mystery Dance” and finally “Blame It On Cain” My Aim Is True is such a great record the Attraction really bring the songs to life with Steve Nieve amazing organ playing.

costellobloodand choc

Released this day in 1986 this was Elvis Costello’s 11th album release featuring the singles “Tokoyo Storm Warning” and ” I Want You” and “Blue Chair” which was a recorded version from the T Bone Burnett recordings for “King Of America” released on Demon Records and the last for this company with his contract ending with Costello signing to Warners for the next album “Spike”. This was the album that followed “King Of America” It also reunited him with the Attractions and producer Nick Lowe. recorded in March to May in 1986 at Olympic Studios in North London the band recording live in the studio in a stage setting at high volume. Some of the songs were outtakes from the L.A sessions for “King Of America” “Blue Chair”, “I Hope Youre Happy” now and “American Without Tears No2” had been recorded with the Confederates with T-Bone Burnett producing, strangely Costello also uses different names his actual own name Declan McManus and his alto ego Napolean Dynamite for the credits.