Results for Elvis Costello

interviews

Nick Lowe

This week Jim and Greg are joined by the“Jesus of Cool,”Nick Lowe. He's been writing, recording and producing music for over 40 years, and his latest release The Old Magic harkens back to his Pub Rock roots. Lowe began playing in the bands Brinsley Shwartz and Rockpile before going solo and producing. But, his songs are probably even better known than he is. There's "Cruel to Be Kind," "I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass," and "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding," which was made famous by Elvis Costello. Lowe admits that Costello's version is more earnest than his own, and generally he favors humor over seriousness. Check out his in-studio performance and video.

Go to episode 329
reviews
The River In Reverse (Digital Version)The River in Reverse available on iTunes

Elvis Costello The River in Reverse

Elvis Costello, the singer/songwriter who has taken on New Wave, punk, ska, country and pop, is tackling R&B on his latest release, The River in Reverse. The album is a collaboration between Costello and Allen Toussaint, the multi-talented New Orleans musician. Toussaint is responsible for hits like "Working in a Coal Mine," "I Like It Like That," and "Lady Marmalade," and has worked with The Band, Paul Simon and The Meters. The two collaborated after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, but neither Jim nor Greg think Costello's voice is up to the task of handling Toussaint's songs. Costello is a name that can garner attention for Toussaint, and Greg knows that his heart is in the right place, but it is only a Burn It record for both critics.

JimGreg
Go to episode 27
MomofukuMomofuku available on iTunes

Elvis Costello Momofuku

Elvis Costello has a new album out called Momofuku, which is named after the creator of instant ramen. Costello made news after he decided to release a vinyl record a month before the digital/CD release, but Jim thinks the real news is the speed at which the singer/songwriter made it. Costello has released a number of albums and dabbled in a number of genres, but he isn‘t known for his expediency. Greg wishes that Costello didn’t dabble so much and would stick to his stripped down rock roots. Jim agrees, citing Costello's fantastic, pared down performance during his tour with Bob Dylan. Both critics wish this Ramen concoction had fewer ingredients. Greg gives Momofuku a Try It, and Jim gives it a Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 128
A Tribute to Joni MitchellA Tribute to Joni Mitchell available on iTunes

Joni Mitchell & Elvis Costello & James Taylor & Sufjan Stevens & Prince & Caetano Veloso A Tribute to Joni Mitchell

The last album up for review is A Tribute to Joni Mitchell. On this album, tracks penned by the famous songwriter are performed by Prince, Sufjan Stevens, James Taylor and Elvis Costello among them. Greg explains that Joni Mitchell is a difficult artist to cover, and with the exception of singers like Caetano Veloso, many of the artists on this tribute just simply aren't good enough to tackle her work. Jim agrees, noting that all of the artists on the album are on the Nonesuch roster. He predicts that the record would have been stronger if more obscure performers were chosen. Therefore A Tribute to Joni Mitchell gets two Burn Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 79
Wise Up GhostWise Up Ghost available on iTunes

Elvis Costello & The Roots Wise Up Ghost

Some artist's choice of musical collaborators can either be a match made in heaven, or a deal made with the devil. English singer/songwriter Elvis Costello's lengthy career has got plenty of both. Jim thinks Costello's latest album, Wise Up Ghost, with legendary hip-hop group The Roots, is another miss—a clunky exercise in genre busting with Costello too far out of his element. Jim can hardly wait to Trash It. Greg is less annoyed with the looseness of the album, finding Costello and The Roots more or less in sync, and the songwriting strong enough in the first half of the album to keep the whole thing afloat. Greg says Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 410
Acid TongueAcid Tongue available on iTunes

Jenny Lewis Acid Tongue

After releasing a successful solo debut, Jenny Lewis is back with a new record called Acid Tongue. While the first album was something of an accident, this one is much more thought out, with a cast of famous helpers including Elvis Costello, Chris Robinson and She & Him. Jim could've done without some of their appearances, but loves this record“to pieces.”He explains that Lewis tries out a variety of styles, but all the songs are linked by an emphasis on strong vocals and natural recording. Greg completely agrees. He is less sour than Jim on Lewis‘ other project, but thinks that on her own she’s made another two much better albums. Acid Tongue gets two Buy Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 149
The True False IdentityThe True False Identity available on iTunes

T-Bone Burnett The True False Identity

Singer/songwriter and producer T-Bone Burnett recently put out The True False Identity, his first album in 14 years. Burnett is best known for having produced albums for Los Lobos, Roy Orbison, Elvis Costello and ex-wife Sam Phillips. He also produced the hugely successful soundtracks for O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Cold Mountain, and A Mighty Wind. After over a decade-long hiatus, he returned to the studio with drummer Jim Keltner and guitarist Mark Ribot. Greg is glad to have T-Bone back. He loves how the musician uses the studio as an instrument and gives The True False Identity a Buy It. Jim, on the other hand, listened to the album and prepared to rumble. He compares the music to that of a similar artist: Tom Waits. Jim feels that both men try to be weird simply for the sake of being weird. He wishes that T-Bone Burnett was as effective a producer for his own work as he is for others', and gives this album a definite Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 25
Lost On the River (Deluxe Version)Lost on the River available on iTunes

The New Basement Tapes Lost on the River

Who knew that one summer in a basement in upstate New York in 1967 would become such a big deal? But fans of Bob Dylan and The Band are still poring over the material that came out of those musicians‘ one-take, slapdash recording sessions, decades later. It’s amazing considering that those Basement Tapes weren't even supposed to go public. Now, more lyrics from that time have surfaced and have been turned into new music produced by T. Bone Burnett and performed by Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Elvis Costello and Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons. The result is Lost on the River by The New Basement Tapes. Greg particularly admires the bluesy, pre-rock sound contributed by Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops. But, for the most part, he doesn't hear any of the magic of The Basement Tapes. And that's not surprising considering it was a contrived project with the manufactured setting of the basement of Capitol Records in L.A., not rural New York. He can only say Try It. Jim thinks Greg is being kind. He doesn‘t think you can separate Dylan’s lyrics and poetry from Dylan's music and voice. This collaboration is nothing like the successful Wilco/Billy Bragg/Woody Guthrie project Mermaid Avenue. He says Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 468
dijs

Greg

“Lipstick Vogue”Elvis Costello

Greg has been enjoying Elvis Costello's new memoir Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink. While he finds Costello's career as a whole to be hit-or-miss, he's reminded of how great the first four or five albums were – in particular, 1978's This Year's Model. Costello was often lumped into punk and New Wave, but his band The Attractions had more musical chops than most bands in those movements. Their instrumental virtuosity really came out performing Costello's claustrophobic songs about anger, frustration, and guilt. "Lipstick Vogue" features an incredible drum part by Pete Thomas that, according to Greg, is a highlight of Costello's entire career. That warrants its inclusion into the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 516
lists

Sophomore Success

They say that it takes a lifetime to make your first record and only a few months to make your second. If that's true, then it's no surprise that most artists face the dreaded“sophomore slump.”But, a rare few second albums meet or even exceed the first effort. Here are Jim & Greg's picks for Sophomore Success Stories:

Go to episode 252
rock doctors

Peter Sagal

This week, Jim and Greg play doctor — rock doctor, that is. They‘ve decided to launch a new experiment where they help a listener in need of musical help. Let’s hope they don't get their licenses pulled. Their first patient is Chicago Public Radio colleague Peter Sagal. The Wait, Wait… Don't Tell Me! host listens to the show, but confessed to Sound Opinions that he doesn't always“get it.”Peter is a music fan, but is stuck in a bit of a rut, and has come to Drs. Kot and DeRogatis for some healing.

After their initial consultation, our hosts discover that their patient is a huge Elvis Costello fan. He also digs Tom Waits and Nick Lowe, and has ventured into newer territory with artists like Neko Case and Ben Folds. Peter also reveals that he likes "Jesus Walks," but may be the last person on the planet who hasn't gotten into Kanye West.

Greg cues in to Peter's fondness for singer/songwriters and theatricality. He also notes that much of the music Peter likes has a fairly wry, intellectual sense of humor. So, his prescription includes an introduction to the music of The Decemberists. Frontman Colin Meloy, who was also a guest on Sound Opinions, has a literary, almost Broadway-esque style that Greg thinks might cure what ails Peter. He also suggests that Peter check out the New Pornographers, the band that features Neko Case on vocals.

Jim's first prescription caters to Peter's dark sense of humor. He recommends a dose of the new (and improved, according to Jim) Belle and Sebastian. The Scottish band was always a bit too twee for our host, but on this year's The Life Pursuit, they create a sunnier, poppier sound, though with no less dark a point of view. Jim also instructs his patient to go for it and listen to Kanye West's second album, Late Registration. He predicts Peter will appreciate the rapper/producer's compositions and innovative orchestrations.

Peter followed his doctors‘ advice for a week, and returned to let them know how he feels. He admitted that he enjoyed most of their choices. He has never been a Belle and Sebastian fan, and probably won’t become one any time soon, but he understands why Jim recommended the band. And he tells Greg that he will continue to dig deeper into the The Decemberists and The New Pornographers. But the clear cure here was Kanye West. Peter was absolutely floored by how much he loved Late Registration. He definitely understands what all the fuss is about now. Therefore, by turning their patient on to even one new artist, the doctors can consider their medical experiment a success. They've got one patient in recovery and look forward to healing some more. So, if you or anyone you know needs to consult with the rock docs, please email Sound Opinions and tell us where it hurts.

Go to episode 34
news

Music News

A number of artists are making news with novel strategies for promoting their upcoming projects. Taylor Swift, whose newest album 1989 is not out until mid October, has engaged her fans through social media, creating tremendous anticipation for the release. This has been helped by a controversial video for the first single "Shake it Off." Fellow pop princess Ariana Grande has announced a collaboration with with Nicki Minaj and Jessie J and will appear at the MTV Video Music Awards with them. That, along with a relationship wtih Target and a slew of other TV commercials, should push Grande to the top. The reclusive electronic artist Richard D. James, better known as Aphex Twin, has taken the most cryptic approach to announcing an album drop. He let fans know about Syro, his first album in 13 years via blimps! So much for a press release. Finally, Bob Dylan will also be releasing a new album…sort of. A new Basement Tapes album produced by T Bone Burnett features songs partially written by Dylan while recording the original Basement Tapes in 1967. They have been set to new music and will be performed by a handpicked group of musicians including Jim James and Elvis Costello.

Go to episode 456

Music News

It has been one year since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast region. The music community has responded in a number of ways over the past 365 days. In fact, the response was quicker and more dramatic than that following the events of September 11, Jim and Greg note. The most high-profile Katrina project was the collaboration between Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint. Toussaint is one of New Orleans‘ most noted producers and musicians, and, like many of the city’s citizens, he had to flee during the storm and has yet to be able to return. He and Costello wrote their album's title track, "The River in Reverse," just weeks after Katrina hit. Check out Jim and Greg's review of that album.

Other artists inspired by Hurricane Katrina include Paul Simon, Mos Def and Bruce Springsteen, who decided to add new hurricane-related lyrics to the song "How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Time and Live," during his live performances. Rapper Master P also just announced that he will be debuting a stage play, "Uncle Willy's Family," which he describes as a hip-hop gospel comedy play about Hurricane Katrina. It will star the rapper, as well as his son Lil Romeo, Silkk The Shockker, and Terry Miles. Now he can add playwright to his ever-expanding résumé. But the post-Katrina project that most moved Jim and Greg was the Dirty Dozen Brass Band's version of Marvin Gaye's 1971 concept album What's Going On. Gaye's songs were inspired by many of the country's problems at the time, including poverty, the environment, urban decay and race conflicts. It's interesting to see how applicable his words are today.

Go to episode 40

Music News

What's an ousted prime minister to do with all his free time? Release an album of course. Former Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi co-wrote all 11 tracks on the new album of love songs by Mariano Apicella. True Love sounds a little more Spanish than Italian to Jim, but he's mostly amused that a twice-married man who has had his fair share of sex scandals would try his hand at love ballads. In other musical-political crossovers, Senegalese musician Youssou N'Dour is giving up his current career to run for office. The man Rolling Stone once named the most famous living African singer hasn‘t announced which office, but many are speculating that he’ll go for the highest one, President.

In other news, Elvis Costello is taking a unique marketing tact in promoting his new album The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook. He says,“Don‘t buy it.”At $200, Costello thinks the box set is overpriced, and he’d instead recommend you invest your money in something more worthwhile-a Louis Armstrong box set priced at less than $150.

Go to episode 314

Music News

Legendary singer and preacher Solomon Burke died last week at age 70. While Burke didn't have as many hits as some of his Atlantic Records peers, many, including producer Jerry Wexler, considered him to be the greatest soul singer of all time. And, two of his tracks gained exposure through the movies: "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" in the Blues Brothers and "Cry to Me" in Dirty Dancing. But, one of Greg's favorite Burke recordings was actually released in 2002. Don't Give Up on Me featured songs written for him by Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Brian Wilson and more. So to pay tribute to Solomon Burke, he plays a song from that record featuring the Blind Boys of Alabama called "None of Us Are Free."

Go to episode 255

Music News

Certainly record companies have made many attempts over the years to launch their artists to #1. But, as far as we know, that's never been attempted by a political social media campaign, until now. The Facebook page "Make Ding Dong! the Witch is Dead Number One the Week Thatcher Dies" went live shortly after the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. And it almost succeeded, but was narrowly inched out by Duke Dumont's "Need U (100%)." Even at #2, this has caused some controversy. The BBC decided not to play the Wizard of Oz tune during its chart countdown, instead opting to play a clip as part of a newscast.

The Iron Lady has always had an impact on music, particularly when it came to hear naysayers. Jim and Greg discuss some of the 1980's best anti-Thatcher tunes including The English Beat with "Stand Down Margaret," Elvis Costello with "Tramp the Dirt Down," Crass with "How Does It Feel?" and perhaps the darkest of them all, "Margaret on the Guillotine" by Moz.

Go to episode 386