Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Elvis Costello

He wants more of your money. Yep, Elvis Costello is at it again.

I've discovered this neat little audio newletter called a "podcast" and found one with Elvis C. talking about "The First Ten Years." It's pretty interesting but then it turns out that it's promoting yet another series of reissues for his albums. The end of each episode has featured a sneak peak at the reissue of My Aim Is True -- 26 never before released tracks! An entire live show from 1977!

As much as this has me curious, I have to admit that I feel like EC may be an acquired taste and the labels are basically fleecing the same people over and over again. Let's see how this works:

Elvis C. releases music on large pieces of plastic with grooves. Fan buys, enjoys.

Perhaps fan even buys a copy on tape for the car.

Possibly, in the 1980s, the fan buys a copy on compact disc, a format that will never degrade!

But wait, Rykodisk then bought out the rights to the early albums and produced beautiful repackagings with lots of bonus material -- b-sides, unreleased tracks and expanded liner notes.

Oh no! Rhino records then acquired the rights and put out super deluxe versions with even MORE tracks and new notes by Elvis Hisself!

And now Elvis C. is signed to Verve/Universal (the same as his wife, Diana Krall) and here comes the ultra deluxe version!

How many copies of My Aim Is True can you have? Five maybe. But how many copies of Goodbye Cruel World do you need?

To be honest, if there is an extra cds worth of material accompanying King of America I might have to get that one again.

Meanwhile, check out the podcast (I found it on iTunes).


Edie said...

You know I was a huge (HUGE) EC fan. I think I've seen him 5 or 6 times live. I think my favorite or most remembered was in RI when I think he was promoting "King of America". Anyway, I haven't really enjoyed the new albums since the '90s or so (King of America and Blood and Chocolate). I feel like at some point the sheer amount of material he has created is impressive but a bit overwhelming. And you're right, how many versions of "Almost Blue" do you need? And I don't need even 1 version of "veronica"...

Baldwin said...

It's been sad watching him transition from the young, hip, ironic, boundary-breaking Elvis to the fat, sweaty, Vegas Elvis. The last nail in the old Elvis' coffin was his recent appearance in this Lexus commercial:

(I just winced and laughed at the same time when I saw this comment under the video: "another generation changes into sweatpants.")

He's always been known for dabbling in and pseudo-mastering a wide range of musical genres, King of America being a high point. But it went from cool to wacky to painfully dilletantish a long time ago. He's just stopped creating anything new that's interesting at all. Have you TRIED listening to the Burt Bacharach album? We saw him with the SF Symphony last year and it was really disappointing. The one song that was worth anything was an orchestral re-arrangement of "Watching The Detectives" (with a jazzy Peter Gunn-ish horn section doing the signature riff.) And his on-stage banter and narrative about his Process as a Composer was just nauseating.

A lot of aging Boomer artists are milking the best years of their creative lives--I guess because they can. The Stones, Stan Lee, Bowie--even Dave Sim's now publishing phone books of old Cerebus letters. Fair enough, I guess, if people are buying.

What bugs me the most about this endless marketing of his catalog is that he's taken such a posture of being A Vital Artist. Look at me! I'm married to a classy jazz queen! I'm playing with international symphonies and string quartets! I'm composing operettas and film scores!

It would be so much more interesting if he would write a pop album about getting old, or talking back to his sneering, know-it-all 25-year old self.