Elvis Costello fans will be seeing double starting August 21, when the first in a series of two-disc reissues — which will eventually cover nearly 20 albums — are released.
The sets of three double CDs, to be issued at three-month intervals, span Costello’s 24-year career and are arranged thematically, rather than chronologically, according to a Rhino Records spokesperson.
The first collection, kicking off a two-year campaign, includes Costello’s debut, My Aim Is True (1977), as well as Spike (1989) and All This Useless Beauty (1996). Together, the three albums showcase the acclaimed songwriter’s varied solo work, ranging from somber ballads to raucous rockers.
All This Useless Beauty is credited to Elvis Costello & the Attractions. However, Costello, who consulted with Rhino’s Senior VP of A&R Gary Stewart on the project, considers it among his solo albums, since the band was in the process of breaking up when the disc was recorded.
Each double CD will include the album as it was originally pressed, plus a companion CD with bonus material, such as live cuts, non-album singles, B-sides and studio outtakes, among other rare gems. Some tracks are exclusive to the Rhino series and not included in the bonus material found on Rykodisc’s early-’90s reissuing of Costello’s 1977–1986 Columbia albums. The Rhino series does include all the Rykodisc extras, however.
Costello personally assisted in choosing the bonus material and contributed to each album’s liner notes, which also feature the lyrics to all the tracks.
The undertaking marks the first remastering and reissuing of Costello’s Warner Bros. catalog. Though Rykodisc remastered Costello’s Columbia years for its reissue campaign, his latter-day Warner Bros. LPs were initially pressed in the CD era, and no aurally upgraded versions have surfaced until now.
The second set, scheduled for November, finds Costello and the Attractions at their most forcefully rocking, with This Year’s Model (1978), Blood & Chocolate (1986) and Brutal Youth (1994). The third installment, showcasing Costello’s sophisticated-pop persona, includes Imperial Bedroom (1982), Punch the Clock (1983) and Armed Forces (1979).
Also planned are sets showcasing Costello’s roots and influences and the sonic evolution of the Attractions.
Present-day Costello, meanwhile, is beginning a one-year term as the first-ever artist in residence in the UCLA Live program. Presenting works of music, dance and theater, UCLA Live is part of the Performing Arts program at the University of California, Los Angeles. His first performance for the program will be September 28, when he appears with the Charles Mingus Orchestra, according to a university spokesperson. Throughout the year, Costello will have the opportunity to work on new ideas, develop collaborations and curate special programs.
My Aim Is Truebonus tracks, according to Rhino:
- “No Action” (early version)
- “Living in Paradise” (early version)
- “Radio Sweetheart”
- “Stranger in the House”
- “I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself” (live)
- “Less Than Zero” (Dallas version)
- “Imagination (Is a Powerful Deceiver)”
- “Mystery Dance” (honky tonk demo)
- “Cheap Reward” (honky tonk demo)
- “Jump Up” (honky tonk demo)
- “Wave a White Flag” (honky tonk demo)
- “Blame It on Cain” (honky tonk demo)
- “Poison Moon” (honky tonk demo)
Spike bonus tracks:
- “Miss Macbeth” (demo)
- “…This Town…” (demo)
- “Deep Dark Truthful Mirror” (demo)
- “Coal-Train Robberies” (demo)
- “Satellite” (demo)
- “Pads, Paws and Claws” (demo)
- “Let Him Dangle” (demo)
- “Veronica” (demo)
- “Tramp the Dirt Down” (demo)
- “Baby Plays Around” (demo)
- “Put Your Big Toe in the Milk of Human Kindness” (demo)
- “Last Boat Leaving” (demo)
- “The Ugly Things”
- “You’re No Good”
- “Point of No Return”
- “The Room Nobody Lives In”
- “Stalin Malone” (vocal version)
All This Useless Beauty bonus tracks:
- “Almost Ideal Eyes”
- “My Dark Life” (with Brian Eno)
- “That Day Is Done” (with the Fairfield Four)
- “What Do I Do Now?”
- “The Bridge I Burned”
- “It’s Time” (demo)
- “Complicated Shadows” (demo)
- “You Bowed Down” (demo)
- “Mistress and Maid” (demo)
- “Distorted Angel” (demo)
- “World’s Great Optimist” (demo)
- “The Only Flame in Town” (demo)
- “The Comedians” (demo)
- “The Days Take Care of Everything” (demo)
- “Hidden Shame” (demo)
- “Why Can’t a Man Stand Alone” (demo)
- “Distorted Angel” (Tricky remix)