Elvis Costello

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This is an old revision of this page, as edited by Cosprings (talk | contribs) at 21:03, 24 October 2007. The present address (URL) is a permanent link to this revision, which may differ significantly from the current revision.

Jump to navigation Jump to search
Elvis Costello
Elvis Costello 15 June 2005.jpg
Elvis Costello performing in June 2005
Background information
Birth nameDeclan Patrick MacManus
Pub rock
Punk rock
New Wave
Years active1977–Present
LabelsStiff, Radar, F-Beat, Demon, Columbia, Warner Bros., Deutsche Grammophon, Lost Highway
Associated actsThe Attractions, The Imposters, Burt Bacharach, Allen Toussaint, George Jones, Emmylou Harris, Anne Sofie von Otter, Diana Krall, The Brodsky Quartet, Michael Tilson Thomas, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan
WebsiteElvis Costello.com

Elvis Costello (born Declan Patrick MacManus August 25, 1954) is an English musician, singer, and songwriter.

His full given name is often listed as Declan Patrick Aloysius MacManus; however, Aloysius was not one of his names at birth, being added years later, around the time of the release of King of America (typically, it was a tongue-in-cheek gesture, Aloysius being one of the middle names of the character played by doomed English comic Tony Hancock in Hancock's Half Hour). At that time he also toyed with the idea of dropping his stage name Elvis Costello, in favour of performing under his real name Declan MacManus.

Costello was an early participant in London's pub rock scene in the mid-1970s, and later became associated with the punk rock and New Wave musical genres, before establishing himself as a unique and original voice in the 1980s. His output has been wildly diverse: One critic wrote that "Costello, the pop encyclopedia, can reinvent the past in his own image".[1]


Early life

Declan MacManus was born in St Mary's Hospital, Paddington in London, and lived in Twickenham, attending what is now St Mark's Catholic Secondary School in neighbouring Hounslow.[2] With a musically inclined father (his father, Ross MacManus, sang with The Joe Loss Orchestra), MacManus's first television appearance was alongside his dad in a television commercial for R. White's lemonade ("I'm a Secret Lemonade Drinker").

MacManus moved with his mother to Birkenhead in 1971. It was there that he formed his first band, a folk duo called Rusty. After completing secondary school Saint Francis Xavier in Liverpool, he moved back to London where he next formed a band called Flip City,[3] which had a style very much in the pub rock vein. They were active from 1974 through early 1976. Around this time, MacManus adopted the stage name D.P. Costello.

To support himself, he worked a number of office jobs, most famously at the Elizabeth Arden cosmetics firm—immortalised in the lyrics of "I'm Not Angry" as the "vanity factory"—where he worked as a data entry clerk. He worked for a short period as a computer operator at the Midland Bank computer centre in Bootle Merseyside. He continued to write songs, and began actively looking for a solo recording contract. On the basis of a demo tape, he was signed to noted independent label Stiff Records. His manager at Stiff, Jake Riviera, suggested a name change, using Elvis Presley's first name and his great grandmother's name[4] to form Elvis Costello.


The first Costello single for Stiff was "Less Than Zero" b/w "Radio Sweetheart (single mix)," released on March 25 1977. Two months later, Costello's first album, My Aim Is True (1977), was a moderate commercial success (No. 14 in the UK and Top 40 in the US) with Costello appearing on the cover in his trademark oversize glasses, bearing a striking resemblance to a menacing Buddy Holly. A highlight of the album was the country-influenced ballad "Alison" with a typically biting Costello lyric. Costello's backing on this first album was provided by American West Coast band Clover, a roots/country outfit living in England (contrary to rumor, Clover did not exactly become Huey Lewis and The News - Huey Lewis did play with Clover shortly before the recording of My Aim Is True, but he and Sean Hopper, who appears on Costello's record, struck out on their own later). Costello was originally marketed as a punk artist. Later on, as the term new wave was applied to the first post-punk bands, Costello was classified as new wave for a time.

Elvis Costello, striking a classic pose.

The same year, Costello recruited via auditions his own permanent band, The Attractions, consisting of Steve Nieve (born Steve Nason; piano), Bruce Thomas (bass guitar), and Pete Thomas (unrelated to Bruce Thomas; drums). He released his first major hit single, "Watching The Detectives," which was recorded with Nieve and the pair of Steve Goulding (drums) and Andrew Bodnar (bass), both members of Graham Parker & The Rumour (whom he had used to audition for The Attractions).

Stiff's records were initially distributed only in the UK, which meant that Costello's first album and singles were initially available in the US as imports only. In an attempt to change this, Costello was arrested for busking outside of a London convention of CBS (Columbia Records) executives, "protesting" that no US record company had yet seen fit to release Elvis Costello records in the United States. Costello signed to CBS in the US a few months later.

In December 1977, Costello and The Attractions appeared on Saturday Night Live as a last minute fill-in for the Sex Pistols, but Costello ended up causing some controversy himself. Following a whirlwind tour with other Stiff artists (captured on the Live Stiffs album, notable for Costello's recording of the Burt Bacharach/Hal David standard "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself") the band recorded the frenetic, raucous This Year's Model (1978). Some of the more popular tracks include the British hit "(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea" and the subversively anthemic "Pump It Up". His U.S. record company saw Costello as such a priority that his last name replaced the word "Columbia" on the label of the disc's original pressing.

A tour of the US and Canada also saw the release of the much bootlegged promo-only "Live at the El Mocambo," which finally saw an official release as part of the "2½ Years" box set in 1993. It was during the ensuing United States tour that Elvis met and developed a relationship with former Playboy model, Bebe Buell (mother of Liv Tyler). Their on-again-off-again courtship would last until 1984 and would allegedly become a deep well of inspiration for some of Costello's most lovelorn songs.

1979 would arguably see the peak of Costello's commercial success with the release of Armed Forces (originally to have been titled Emotional Fascism, a phrase that appeared on the LP's inner sleeve). Both the album and the single Oliver's Army went to #2 in the UK. Costello also found time in 1979 to produce the debut album for 2 Tone ska revival band, The Specials.


The soul-infused Get Happy!! would be the first, and—along with King of America—possibly most successful, of Costello's many experiments with genres beyond those he is normally associated with. The single, "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down" was an old Sam and Dave song (though Costello increased the tempo considerably). The brevity of the songs (20 tracks in under 50 minutes) suited the band's new style (the Thomas' typically melodic rhythm section and Nieve's reasonable impersonation of Booker T. Jones) as well as the frantic and stressful conditions under which it was written and recorded, crammed between live dates and fuelled by excessive drinking. Lyrically, the songs are full of Costello's signature wordplay, to the point that he later felt he'd become something of a self-parody and toned it down on later releases. He has mockingly described himself in interviews as "rock and roll's Scrabble champion." The only 1980 appearance in North America was at the Heatwave festival in August near Toronto.

1981's Trust had a more pop sound, but the overall result was clearly affected by the growing tensions within the band, particularly between Bruce and Pete Thomas. Despite its eclecticism ("Different Finger" had a distinct country feel) and pop hooks, Trust was not a major success and the first album since his debut to generate no hit singles. Following the commercial disappointment of Trust, Costello took a break from songwriting and the band decamped to Nashville to record Almost Blue, an album of country music cover songs written by the likes of Hank Williams ("Why Don't You Love Me (Like You Used To Do?)"), Merle Haggard ("Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down") and Gram Parsons ("How Much I Lied"). It was not a country-rock album (a la The Byrds or Eagles), which might have been more palatable to his established audience and to reviewers, but rather an undiluted country album. It received mixed reviews, some of which accused Costello of growing soft. Perhaps in anticipation of the inevitable accusations of apostasy, the first pressings of the record in the UK bore a sticker with the message: "WARNING: This album contains country & western music and may cause offence to narrow minded listeners". Almost Blue did spawn a surprise UK hit single in a version of George Jones's "Good Year For The Roses" (written by Jerry Chesnut).

Imperial Bedroom (1982) marked a much darker, almost baroque sound for Costello, due in large part to the production of Geoff Emerick, famed for engineering several Beatles records. Featuring a superior set of songs—both musically and lyrically—it remains one of his most critically acclaimed records but again failed to produce any hit singles. Costello has said he disliked the marketing pitch for the album, weak ads consisting only of the phrase "Masterpiece?". Imperial Bedroom also featured Costello's song "Almost Blue"; jazz singer and trumpeter Chet Baker would later perform and record a beautifully morose version of this song.

1983 saw another sidetrack with the pop-soul of Punch the Clock, featuring female backing vocals (Afrodiziak) and a four piece horn section (The TKO Horns), alongside The Attractions. Clive Langer (who co-produced with Alan Winstanley), provided Costello with a melody which eventually became "Shipbuilding", an oblique and articulate look at the political contradictions of the Falklands War: The controversial military build-up provided jobs for Britain's struggling shipyards. The song featured a striking solo by Chet Baker. (Prior to the release of Costello's own version, an affecting, emotive version of the song was a minor UK hit for former Soft Machine drummer and political activist Robert Wyatt). Equally political was "Pills And Soap"—a UK hit for Costello himself under the pseudonym of "The Imposter"—an attack on the changes in British society brought on by Thatcherism, released to coincide with the run-up to the 1983 UK general election. (The electorate was seemingly unswayed.) Punch the Clock also generated an international hit in the single "Everyday I Write the Book", aided by a prophetic music video featuring lookalikes of the Prince and Princess of Wales undergoing domestic strife in a suburban home. The song became Costello's first top forty hit single in the US. Also in the same year, Elvis provided vocals on a version of the Madness song "Tomorrow's Just Another Day" released as a B-side on the single of the same name and has become a rarity.

Tensions within the band were beginning to tell, and Costello announced his retirement and the disbandment of the group shortly before they were to record Goodbye Cruel World (1984). Costello would later say of this record that they had "got it as wrong as you can in terms of the execution". With a number of poor songs (and even the better songs harmed by murky production), the record was poorly received upon its initial release, and even many ardent Costello fans see Goodbye as his weakest album (the liner notes to the 1995 Rykodisc re-release, penned by Costello, begin with 'Congratulations!, you've just purchased our worst album'). Despite the record's poor reputation, a few songs were well-regarded, such as "The Comedians" (later recorded, with rewritten lyrics, by Roy Orbison). On the album's second single, "The Only Flame in Town", Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates shared lead vocals. Costello's retirement, although short-lived, was accompanied by two compilations, Elvis Costello: The Man in the UK, Europe and Australia, and The Very Best of Elvis Costello & the Attractions in the U.S.

In 1985 he appeared in the "Live Aid" benefit concert in England, singing The Beatles' "All You Need is Love"—inevitably, the event was overrunning and Costello was asked to "ditch the band", not a popular move with the Attractions. Judging from the fact that photographs at the event show that he had scrawled the lyrics on the back of his hand, this was not overly rehearsed.

In the same year Costello teamed up with good friend T-Bone Burnett for a single called "The People's Limousine" under the moniker of The Coward Brothers. That year, Costello also produced Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash for the punk/folk band the Pogues. It was then that he met his second wife, Pogues bassist Cait O'Riordan.

By 1986, Costello was preparing to make a comeback. Working in the US with Burnett, a band containing a number of Elvis Presley's sidemen (including James Burton and Jerry Scheff), and minor input from the Attractions, he produced King of America an acoustic-guitar-driven album with a country sound. Around this time he legally changed his name back to Declan MacManus, adding Aloysius as an extra middle name. The Attractions felt understandably insecure about their dispensability upon perceiving that their boss had cut a new album largely without them, and was planning to undertake a major tour showcasing the King of America material with his new musical partners. To allay their fears, Costello retooled his upcoming tour to allow for multiple nights in each city; playing one night with The Confederates (James Burton et al.), one night with The Attractions, and one night solo acoustic.

Later that year, he returned to the studio with the Attractions and recorded Blood and Chocolate, which was lauded for a post-punk fervour not heard since 1978's This Year's Model. It also marked the return of producer Nick Lowe, who had produced Costello's first five albums. While Blood and Chocolate failed to chart a hit single of any significance, it did produce what has since become one of Costello's signature concert songs — "I Want You". It is on this album that Costello adopted the alias "Napoleon Dynamite", the name he later attributed to the character of the obnoxious emcee that he played during the vaudeville-style tour to support Blood and Chocolate. (The pseudonym had previously been used in 1982, when the B-side single "Imperial Bedroom" was credited to Napoleon Dynamite & The Royal Guard.)

In 1989 Costello, with a new contract with Warner Bros., released Spike. The album was perhaps his most accessible pop recording, and it spawned his biggest single in America, the Top Twenty hit "Veronica", one of several songs Costello co-wrote with Paul McCartney in that timeframe (see "Collaborations" section below).


In 1991, infamously having grown a long beard, Costello released Mighty Like a Rose, which featured the single "The Other Side of Summer". He also found time to co-compose and co-produce, with Richard Harvey, the title and incidental music for the acclaimed mini-series G.B.H. by Alan Bleasdale. This entirely instrumental, and largely orchestral soundtrack garnered a BAFTA, for "Best Music for a TV Series" for the pair.

In 1993, Costello tested the classical music waters with a critically acclaimed collaboration with the Brodsky Quartet on The Juliet Letters. Costello returned to rock and roll the following year with a project that reunited him with The Attractions, Brutal Youth.

In 1995, Costello released Kojak Variety, an album of cover songs recorded 5 years earlier, and followed in 1996 with an album of songs originally written for other artists, All This Useless Beauty. This was the final album of original material that he issued under his Warner Bros. contract. In the spring of 1996, Costello played a series of intimate club dates, backed only by Nieve on the piano, in support of All This Useless Beauty. An ensuing summer and fall tour with the Attractions proved to be the death knell for the band. With relations between Elvis and bassist Bruce Thomas at a breaking point, Costello announced that the current tour would be the Attractions' last. The quartet performed their final U.S. show in Seattle, Washington on September 1, 1996, before wrapping up their tour in Japan.

To fulfill his contractual obligations to Warner Bros., Costello released a greatest hits album titled Extreme Honey (1997). It contained an original track titled "The Bridge I Burned", featuring Elvis' son, Matt, on bass.

In the intervening period, Costello also served as artistic chair for the 1995 Meltdown Festival, which gave him the opportunity to leverage his increasingly eclectic musical interests. His involvement in the festival yielded a one-off live EP with jazz guitarist Bill Frisell, which featured both cover material and a few of his own songs.

In 1998, Costello signed a unique multi-label contract with Polygram Records, sold by its parent company the same year to become part of the Universal Music Group. Costello released his new work on what he deemed the suitable imprimatur within the family of labels. His first new release as part of this contract involved a collaboration with famed sixties pop songwriter Burt Bacharach. Their work had commenced earlier, in 1996, on a song called "God Give Me Strength" for the movie Grace of My Heart. This led the pair to write and record Painted From Memory, released under his new contract in 1998, on the Mercury Records label. They also recorded an updated version of Bacharach's song "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" for the soundtrack to Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, with both appearing in the film to perform the song. He also wrote "I Throw My Toys Around" for The Rugrats Movie and performed it with No Doubt.

In 1999, Costello contributed a cover version of the 1974 song "She", originally by Charles Aznavour and Herbert Kretzmer, for the soundtrack of the film Notting Hill, with Trevor Jones producing. For the 25th anniversary of Saturday Night Live, Costello was invited to the program, where he re-enacted his abrupt song-switch: This time, however, he interrupted the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage", and they acted as his backing group for "Radio Radio."

2000 to present

File:Elvis Costello.jpg
Costello performing with The Imposters in 2005.

In 2001, Costello was announced as the featured "artist in residence" at UCLA (although he ended up making fewer appearances than expected) and wrote the music for a new ballet. He produced and appeared on an album of songs for opera singer Anne Sofie von Otter, For The Stars. Appropriately enough, this album came out on Deutsche Grammophon.

In 2002 he released a new album, When I Was Cruel, this time on Island Records, and toured with a new band, the Imposters (essentially the Attractions but with a different bass player, Davey Faragher, formerly of Cracker). On February 23rd, 2003, Costello, along with Bruce Springsteen, Steve Van Zandt, and Dave Grohl performed a version of The Clash's "London Calling" at the 45th Grammy Awards ceremony, in honor of legendary Clash frontman Joe Strummer, who had died in December of the previous year. In March 2003, Elvis Costello & The Attractions were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In May, his engagement to Canadian jazz singer and pianist Diana Krall was announced. September saw the release of North, an album of piano-based ballads concerning the breakdown of his former marriage, and his falling in love with singer Diana Krall.

In 2004, the song "Scarlet Tide" (co-written by Costello and T-Bone Burnett and used in the film Cold Mountain) was nominated for an Academy Award; he performed it at the awards ceremony with Alison Krauss, who also sang the song on the official soundtrack. Costello co-wrote many songs on wife Diana Krall's 2004 CD, The Girl in the Other Room, the first of hers to feature several original compositions. In July 2004 Costello's first full-scale orchestral work, Il Sogno, was performed in New York. The work, a ballet after Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, was commissioned by Italian dance troupe Aterballeto, and received critical acclaim from the classical music critics, while being scorned by the popular music press.

Costello's hand prints on the European Walk of Fame, Rotterdam

While composing it, Costello deliberately avoided listening to the previous interpretations by Mendelssohn and Britten in order to ensure his own originality. A range of musical moods and styles are used to represent the different elements of the cast—satirical pomp for the courtiers, jazz for the faeries, and for Bottom a deliberately intrusive "brass band" motif. Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, the recording was released on CD in September by Deutsche Grammophon.

Costello released another album that same month: The Delivery Man, recorded in Oxford, Mississippi, and released on Lost Highway Records. Mainly blues, country, and folk, The Delivery Man received early acclaim as one of Costello's best albums, and continues Costello's personal quest to release an album on each of Universal's record labels.

In July 2005, a CD recording of a collaboration with Marian McPartland on her show Piano Jazz was released. It featured Costello singing six jazz standards and two of his own songs, accompanied by Marian McPartland on piano. In November 2005 Costello started recording a new album with Allen Toussaint and producer Joe Henry. The River in Reverse was released in the UK on the Verve label on 29 May 2006. Also released in 2006 was a live recording of a concert with the Metropole Orkest at the North Sea Jazz Festival, entitled My Flame Burns Blue.

Costello has been commissioned to write a chamber opera by the Danish Royal Opera, Copenhagen, on the subject of Hans Christian Andersen's infatuation with Swedish soprano Jenny Lind, called The Secret Songs. Some of the songs were previewed on the Opera's main stage in October 2005. However, since Costello has repeatedly missed deadlines, plans have been changed: extracts from the projected opera will be interspersed with songs from The Juliet Letters for performance in the Opera's studio theatre (Takelloftet) in March 2007. It will be directed by Kasper Bech Holten and will feature Danish soprano Sine Bundgaard as Lind.


Costello's success in the U.S. was bruised for a time in the late 1970s when, during a drunken argument with Stephen Stills and Bonnie Bramlett in a Columbus, Ohio, Holiday Inn hotel bar, Costello allegedly referred to James Brown as a "jive-ass nigger," then upped the ante by pronouncing Ray Charles a "blind, ignorant nigger." It is debatable that these were the exact words Costello used, considering that the terms 'jive-ass' and 'nigger' are particular to American dialects[citation needed].

A contrite Costello apologized at a New York City press conference a few days later, claiming that he had been drunk and had been attempting to be obnoxious in order to bring the conversation to a swift conclusion, not anticipating that Bramlett would bring his comments to the press. According to Costello, "it became necessary for me to outrage these people with about the most obnoxious and offensive remarks that I could muster." In his liner notes for the expanded version of Get Happy!!, Costello writes that some time after the incident he had declined an offer to meet Charles out of guilt and embarrassment, though Charles himself had forgiven Costello ("Drunken talk isn't meant to be printed in the paper"). In a Rolling Stone interview with Greil Marcus[5], he recounts an incident when Bruce Thomas was introduced to Michael Jackson as Costello's bass player and Jackson saying, "I don't dig that guy...".

It is notable that Costello worked extensively in Britain's Rock Against Racism campaign both before and after this interlude and also produced the debut album of the Specials whose multi-racial line-up was a very public statement about integration. This incident specifically inspired his Get Happy!! song "Riot Act".[6]

Personal life

Costello has been married three times:

  • In 1974, MacManus married Mary Burgoyne. The couple had a son, Matthew, and divorced in 1984.
  • In 1986, Costello married Cait O'Riordan, then bassist for the band The Pogues. The couple split at the end of 2002.
  • Costello became engaged to singer Diana Krall in May 2003. In December, Costello and Krall married at the London estate of Sir Elton John. Their twin sons Dexter Henry Lorcan and Frank Harlan James were born December 6, 2006 in New York City.


In addition to his major recorded collaborations with Bacharach, the Brodsky Quartet, and von Otter, Costello has frequently been involved in other collaborations.

In 1987, Costello began a long-running songwriting collaboration with Paul McCartney. They wrote a number of songs together, including:

  • "Back On My Feet", the B-side of McCartney's 1987 single "Once Upon A Long Ago", later added as a bonus track on the 1993 re-issue of McCartney's Flowers in the Dirt
  • Costello's "Veronica" and "Pads, Paws and Claws" from Spike (1989)
  • "So Like Candy" and "Playboy to a Man" from Mighty Like a Rose (1991)
  • McCartney's "My Brave Face", "Don't Be Careless Love", "That Day Is Done" and "You Want Her Too" from Flowers in the Dirt (1989)
  • "The Lovers That Never Were" and "Mistress and Maid" from Off the Ground (1993).
  • "Twenty-Five Fingers" and "Tommy's Coming Home" (Officially unreleased).

Costello talked about their collaboration:

When we sat down together he wouldn't have any sloppy bits in there (meaning the songs). That was interesting. The ironic part is, if it sounds like he wrote it, I probably did and vice versa. He wanted to do all the ones with lots of words and all on one note, and I'm the one trying to work in the "Please Please Me" harmony all over the place.[citation needed]

Artistic significance

While many musicians embrace myriad types of music as influences and preferences, few if any popular music artists have displayed the same level of determination and rigor in successfully pursuing projects encompassing such a wide stylistic range as Costello. From the Motown and Stax influenced Get Happy!! to the straight country and western of Almost Blue, the mid-1960s Beatles and Beach Boys influenced soundscapes of Imperial Bedroom to the chamber music recital of The Juliet Letters, the classic pop of his album with Burt Bacharach and My Flame Burns Blue to the classical ballet score of Il Sogno, eclectic only begins to describe Costello's work.

His eclecticism extends to his choice of collaborators; he has worked with Tony Bennett, Lucinda Williams, Lee Konitz, Brian Eno, and Rubén Blades, just a few of the artists not mentioned above. Costello has inadvertently made himself capable of challenging Kevin Bacon's role in a musical version of the six degrees of separation game, as his associations span the gamut in the music industry.

Costello is also a big music fan, and often champions the works of others in print. He has written several pieces for the magazine Vanity Fair, including the summary of what a perfect weekend of music would be. His collaboration with Bacharach honoured Bacharach's place in pop music history. Costello also appeared in a documentary about singer Dusty Springfield. He has also interviewed one of his own influences, Joni Mitchell.

In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him #80 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.[7]


Rykodisc/Demon reissues

From 1993 to 1995, Rykodisc Records (U.S.) and Demon Records (UK) reissued Costello's pre-Warner Bros. catalogue with bonus tracks for each album as well as a greatest hits compilation and the live album Live at the El Mocambo. In addition, Rykodisc were the U.S. distributor for The Juliet Letters. This licensing deal ended in 2000.

Rhino reissues

Starting in 2001, Rhino Records began an eighteen double-disc reissue program for Costello's back catalogue prior to his Polygram/Universal contract. Except for the compilation, each of the reissues presented the remastered original album on one disc, and a separate bonus disc of B-sides, outtakes, live tracks, alternate versions and/or demos of songs.

The project featured the direct participation and guidance of Elvis Costello himself, who wrote new liner notes for each album consisting of his thoughts on the music as well as anecdotes and reminiscences from the time. They were released in batches of three, with the exception of King of America, The Juliet Letters, and The Very Best of Elvis Costello, the last being an unaltered re-release of the Polygram compilation of 1999, which arrived in the stores singularly. The reissue dates are as follows:

  1. April 17 2001: The Very Best of Elvis Costello
  2. August 11 2001: My Aim Is True, Spike, All This Useless Beauty
  3. February 19 2002: This Year's Model, Blood and Chocolate, Brutal Youth
  4. November 19 2002: Armed Forces, Imperial Bedroom, Mighty Like A Rose
  5. September 9 2003: Get Happy!!, Trust, Punch the Clock
  6. August 3 2004: Almost Blue, Goodbye Cruel World, Kojak Variety
  7. April 26 2005: King of America
  8. March 21 2006: The Juliet Letters

The Almost Blue and Kojak Variety bonus discs were particularly notable as each contained, essentially, an entire new album's worth of material also performed but either not issued, or released as B-sides on singles originally. The Kojak bonus disc also included ten songs of the 'George Jones' tape, cover songs Costello intended to induce the famed country singer to perform on a subsequent album. The Get Happy bonus disc was also of note, with 30 additional tracks, bringing the total for the two disc set to 50 songs.

Costello's early single on Stiff can be found on the Ultimate Stiff Records Discography site: http://www.buythehour.se/stiff/

Universal reissues

In August 2006, three months after the conclusion of Rhino's reissue series (My Aim Is True through The Juliet Letters), Universal Music Enterprises announced their purchase of the early Elvis Costello catalog. This licensing acquisition covers from My Aim Is True through King of America, excluding the Warner Bros. albums (Spike through All This Useless Beauty). These albums had all been re-released on Rhino, a Warner Music Group subsidiary. The press release says, "[l]eading the industry in online marketing with a dedicated department that manages its digital and mobile business, UMe also expects to mine Costello's catalog for ringtones, digital box sets, and more."[8] UMe announced that they would be reissuing the albums on their Hip-O Select label. Costello is quoted in the press release as saying, "[I]t's great to be able to do this through a company that has not only enjoyed major success with reissues but has done them with a genuine emphasis on quality."[9] This reissue series will mark the fourth release of his Stiff/Radar/Demon catalog (released by Columbia Records in the US) on compact disc.

Tribute albums

  1. 1998: Bespoke Songs, Lost Dogs, Detours & Rendezvous – (various artists)
  2. 2002: Almost You: The Songs of Elvis Costello – (various artists)
  3. 2003: The Elvis Costello SongbookBonnie Brett
  4. 2004: A Tribute to Elvis CostelloPatrik Tanner
  5. 2004: Davis Does ElvisStuart Davis



  1. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Get Happy!! [Ryko Bonus Tracks], All Music Guide. Accessed September 17 2007.
  2. ^ Paul Inglis, "The Rise And Rise Of Elvis Costello", The Elvis Costello Home Page. Accessed September 17 2007.
  3. ^ Flip City -- the True Story , Flip City website. Accessed September 17 2007.
  4. ^ Elvis Costello, interview by Terry Gross, Fresh Air from WHYY, National Public Radio, WHYY-FM, Philadelphia, February 28, 1989 (rebroadcast September 14, 2007). Accessed September 16, 2007.
  5. ^ Greil Marcus, "Elvis Costello Explains Himself", Rolling Stone, September 2, 1982. Accessed September 17 2007.
  6. ^ ELVIS COSTELLO - RIOT ACT / DON'T LET ME BE MISUNDERSTOOD, More Things website. Accessed September 17 2007.
  7. ^ "The Immortals: The First Fifty". Rolling Stone Issue 946. Rolling Stone.
  8. ^ Press release on Marketwire.
  9. ^ Press release on Marketwire.


  • Costello, Elvis. A Singing Dictionary. London: Plangent Visions Music; New York, N.Y.: Exclusive selling agent for the United States and Canada, Warner Bros. Publications, 1980. ISBN 0-7692-1505-X. Sheet music, chords, and lyrics for works 1977–1980.

External links