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Elvis Costello - live and expensive
November 26, 2011 8:12 AM   Subscribe

Steal this record. A 1-CD (with DVD, vinyl EP, book, poster and other collectables) edition of live recordings from Elvis Costello's most recent tour is being released as a limited edition - for around $260, with free Super Saver shipping. Expensive special editions aren't new, but this one seems to have caught even Costello by surprise; his official website is advising fans not to buy it, and to get a box set of Louis Armstrong records instead.
If you should really want to buy something special for your loved one at this time of seasonal giving, we can whole-heartedly recommend, “Ambassador Of Jazz” - a cute little imitation suitcase, covered in travel stickers and embossed with the name “Satchmo” but more importantly containing TEN re-mastered albums by one of the most beautiful and loving revolutionaries who ever lived – Louis Armstrong.

The box should be available for under one hundred and fifty American dollars and includes a number of other tricks and treats. Frankly, the music is vastly superior.
In a follow-up post, elviscostello.com clarified:
If you should still want the component items in the above mentioned elaborate hoax, they will be available separately at a more affordable price in the New Year, unless you are one of those pirates who imagines they are evangelists or that other people’s rights absolve their own thievery, in which case this is between you and your dim conscience.
The CD version of the live shows will be released in January, costing $15.
posted by running order squabble fest (43 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
15 dollars is just as much of an outrage as 260, once you know the economics of the industry.
posted by spicynuts at 8:20 AM on November 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


The Amazon link mentions that the show included a guest appearance by The Bangles.

Now I like The Bangles. But I'm not seeing the connection here. Did Declan recently see The Allnighter on cable or something?
posted by Trurl at 8:25 AM on November 26, 2011


nah it's about 6% of the outrage
posted by rap and country at 8:25 AM on November 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


$15 is an outrage, once you find out it's live recordings of Elvis Costello.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 8:33 AM on November 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Now I like The Bangles. But I'm not seeing the connection here. Did Declan recently see The Allnighter on cable or something?

A cover of "Tear Off Your Own Head (It's A Doll Revolution)" was the title track on their 2003 album Doll Revolution.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 8:39 AM on November 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Now I like The Bangles. But I'm not seeing the connection here.

According to the Elvis Costello wiki, the Bangles' 2003 album Doll Revolution was named after, and opened with a cover version of, the Elvis Costello song "Tear off your own head (it's a doll revolution)".

Seriously, who knew?
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:39 AM on November 26, 2011


Ah. Blue Jello Elf knew.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:41 AM on November 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


That's a couple of pretty messed up posts. The first one seems to encourage people to steal the tracks. The second says you're an idiot of that's what you think they are saying. I'm confused.

Eh, I wasn't going to buy or steal it so I'm not upset.

The amazon link does make it look like a 3 CD set, not 1. Not that this makes it much better.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:52 AM on November 26, 2011


A price of $260 is probably what the market will bear. Can U imagine the TORRENT of downloads if it was being given out for free?
posted by Renoroc at 8:57 AM on November 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


A friend recently prepaid for a live recording of a concert he attended which was distributed a few minutes after the show ended. Is this becoming a common practice?
posted by Jode at 9:06 AM on November 26, 2011


A friend recently prepaid for a live recording of a concert he attended which was distributed a few minutes after the show ended. Is this becoming a common practice?

Yes.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 9:09 AM on November 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


(That's kind of odd - Live Here Now used to host more than just live recordings of The Specials in their store. Here's the wikipedia entry.)
posted by beaucoupkevin at 9:10 AM on November 26, 2011


Am I too cynical for thinking that the entire thing is a scheme for publicity? I mean now we're talking about Elvis Costello, and I've read the information that he'll have a CD out in January for the (reasonable and affordable!) price of $15. And on top of it all, according to the story, he seems like a nice guy; unlike most people he didn't even have to do some asshole thing to show up on OutrageFilter.
posted by cotterpin at 9:47 AM on November 26, 2011


cjorgensen: The first one seems to encourage people to steal the tracks.

I think it's a reference to Abby Hoffman's "Steal this Book" - which then had to be course-corrected when it looked like it was endorsing actually stealing the box set (or illegally downloading it) rather than just not buying it. From Costello's PoV, I'm guessing the concern is that the existence of this very expensive box set might incline people who would otherwise not file-share the songs released to file-share the songs in the month before the CD is released. So, by the time the CD comes out everyone already has the songs and decides not to buy the CD, because of the goodwill lost.

The amazon link does make it look like a 3 CD set, not 1. Not that this makes it much better.

I believe that the three discs Amazon is listing break down to a CD containing songs selected from two nights, a DVD of one of the nights, and a 4-track vinyl EP. So, three flat circles, only one CD.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:49 AM on November 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, I have new-found respect for Elvis Costello (or the person who runs elviscostello.com).

I am a record retailer and I can confirm the price on Amazon is probably accurate. Wholesale cost on the item is C$222.09. The official description is "a 3-disc (CD, DVD, 10" vinyl EP) live box set, recorded over a 2-night stand at The Wiltern in Los Angeles on May 11 and 12, 2011. Limited to 1500 copies worldwide, each set is individually numbered with a special commemoration card autographed by Elvis Costello. This super deluxe package includes a 40-page hardcover book packed with candid photos, a tour diary of Costello's musings from each tour stop, a 20" x 30" concert tour poster and a limited edition postcard."

Elvis often the worst at whoring his stuff out, though. For instance, at present, My Aim is True is available in five different version (3 2-CDs, a 1CD, and an LP). Two would be plenty.

However, I'm not really surprised to see a a 2 CD/1 vinyl item for $250. I'm just surprised it was Elvis'.

Yesterday was Black Friday Record Store Day which saw the release of a ridiculous amount of overpriced crap. There was some reasonably priced crap as well, but the releases by The Beatles, The Doors, Janis Joplin, and Pink Floyd were laughably overpriced. My store did not even bother bringing them in. Three or four 7"s in a box for approx $50? Fuck that and the labels/bands behind it.

Meanwhile artists like Calexico are releasing 12-LP box sets (on Quarterstick) which we sold for a reasonable $135; the amazing Numero Group releases a 4-CD/6-LP Syl Johnson box which we were able to offer for $75.

Seriously, fuck the majors and their constant gouging.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:57 AM on November 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


I agree: this is a publicity stunt.

By the way, is Costello in debt? It seems like that guy just can't take a break.
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 9:58 AM on November 26, 2011


15 dollars is just as much of an outrage as 260, once you know the economics of the industry.

$15 is less than the cost of a meal for two at an average takeout place or the cost of a ticket for one to a shitty 90-minute blockbuster movie. You think it's too much to spend on something that you can literally enjoy for the rest of you life?! Seriously, get some perspective.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 10:02 AM on November 26, 2011 [12 favorites]


What happened to Elvis Costello? Since about 1990 his music has seemed pretty much unlistenable. Am I the only one who thinks this?
posted by jayder at 10:04 AM on November 26, 2011


Elvis often the worst at whoring his stuff out, though. For instance, at present, My Aim is True is available in five different version (3 2-CDs, a 1CD, and an LP). Two would be plenty.

Agreed that that is far too many, but is that his fault, or the record company's?
posted by Infinite Jest at 10:11 AM on November 26, 2011


$15 is less than the cost of a meal for two at an average takeout place or the cost of a ticket for one to a shitty 90-minute blockbuster movie. You think it's too much to spend on something that you can literally enjoy for the rest of you life?! Seriously, get some perspective.

Seriously, get a sense of sarcasm. I buy at least 3 CDs or records a month. It doesn't change the underlying truth of the margin the label makes on a CD compared to the amount the artist gets. So take a pill.
posted by spicynuts at 10:19 AM on November 26, 2011


Am I the only one who thinks this?

That date would eliminate Brutal Youth, and When I Was Cruel, just to name two worthwhile efforts.

Costello wanders and experiments in different genres and environments. The disc with Burt Bacharach didn't do a lot for me personally, but that's only my take. I like the idea that he's out there thoughtfully exploring, even if not everything's going to be on my personal list of favorites.
posted by gimonca at 10:27 AM on November 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I consider myself a pretty discerning EC fan, but he's still capable of knocking it out of the park. Brutal Youth is one of his finest records, and probably his finest overall since Blood & Chocolate. I also loved The Delivery Man. Secret, Profane & Sugarcane had some good stuff on it.
posted by mykescipark at 12:09 PM on November 26, 2011


What happened to Elvis Costello? Since about 1990 his music has seemed pretty much unlistenable. Am I the only one who thinks this?
I don't know much relatively recent Elvis Costello music; in fact, I think I can only think of one thing. But I like that one thing a lot.
posted by Flunkie at 12:14 PM on November 26, 2011


What happened to Elvis Costello? Since about 1990 his music has seemed pretty much unlistenable. Am I the only one who thinks this?

Well, hey, I can help here.

A caveat before starting. Much of Costello's post-1990 catalog didn't sell especially well. Of course, this means that his label(s) have been even more aggressive than normal blocking his later stuff from YouTube et al because, you know, that way nobody can hear it anywhere without buying it. I think this is backwards thinking because people already think "I don't want to listen to his post 1990 output, so why should I bother buying any of his tracks"). I, of course, am not in marketing, so what the hell do I know?

Also, obviously, your mileage may vary.

Ten Tracks Costello Has Released since 1990 That I Think Are Worth Your Time

1) "Complicated Shadows" from The Other End Of The Telescope - and the bluegrass remake of it from Secret, Profane and Sugarcane - This track was, allegedly, going to be the theme song for The Sopranos (and is used as the closing song in one episode) before they selected the great Alabama 3 track instead. Originally written for Johnny Cash, though he didn't record this one. (Cash did record an inspired reading of Costello's "Hidden Shame.") The Telescope version has a great guitar solo and is worth seeking out for that reason. Unfortunately, you have to sign up for Rhapsody up there to hear it, but maybe your google search skills are better than mine.

2) "You Tripped At Every Step" from Brutal Youth. That video is from the Spectacular Singing Songbook tour, as you'll see. Fabulous opening verse and typically oblique lyrics that I've always interpreted as being about dealing with a friend's alcoholism. "Sulky Girl"is another favorite track from this album. Really, all of Brutal Youth is worth a listen. One of his finest. On "Sulky Girl," the build to the end is what has always done it for me.

3) "So Like Candy" from The Other Side Of Summer. One of the tracks he wrote with Paul McCartney - who I believe plays bass here, too.

4) "Fallen" from North. North is usually seen as his low water mark among his hardcore fans, but "Fallen" is actually quite an excellent little song. Featuring some excellent Steve Nieve piano work.

5) "Sulfer to Sugarcane" from Secret, Profane, and Sugarcane. A hilariously bawdy travelogue about a sleazy politician sleeping his way all over Lousiana (and the United States). Co-written by T-Bone Burnett.

6) "When I Was Cruel Part 2" from When I Was Cruel. Costello demonstrates that he hasn't lost his touch for drama on this one. Its largely built around a sample from "Un Bacio È Troppo Poco" by Mina.

7) "Six Fingered Man" with Allen Toussaint from their album The River In Reverse. Now, The River in Reverse is one of his finest records ever and (in my opinion) his best of the 00's. Yes, half of it is covers of Toussaint numbers, but those are excellent (I particularly recommend "On Your Way Down") and his originals are outstanding. Many people prefer the Katrina-inspired title track (which is also excellent), but "Six Fingered Man" has always stood out for me.

8) "Country Darkness" from The Delivery Man. This album is the only one that (so far) is officially attributed to Elvis Costello and The Imposters. Lots of little gems on this one (I could have as easily chosen "Either Side Of The Same Town", with its terrific Davey Farragher backing vocals).

9) "God Give Me Strength" with Burt Bacharach from their Painted From Memory. If you've not listened to this album, its easy to disparage it. As it happens, its a great break-up album and was released at the perfect time for me, so I bonded with it faster than a Stephenie Meyer's Werewolf with a newborn.

10) "Taking My Life In Your Hands" with The Brodsky Quartet from The Juliet Letters. I love this album, but I'm in a minority. Fine Costello vocal performance, tremendous backing musicians and some great thematically linked lyrics. There's a great recreation of this set of songs by Polish singer Katarzyna Groniec titled Listy Julie - I particularly like her version of "Expert Rites".

There's some great tracks on Momofuko ("Drum and Bone") and National Ransom ("A Slow Dance With Josephine"), but I'm trying to show some restraint.

Really, while Costello's first six or seven albums (depending on how you feel about Almost Blue) are as strong a string of record as anyone released, his late work has also been excellent, challenging and restless. Yes, some of it has landed with a thud, but when you experiment, you're going to create a few clunkers.

Three Bonus Tracks: Costello's cover of "She" from Notting Hill, his cover of Christine Aguilera's "Beautiful" from the House TV Series and Fiona Apple taking the lead vocal on Costello's "I Want You".

---

Anyhow, I am something of a fan and I shant be buying the $250 version of this record. I like his music, not his memorabilia.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:28 PM on November 26, 2011 [22 favorites]


That would be "A Slow Drag With Josephine." I am red.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:29 PM on November 26, 2011


These "deluxe / expanded / ultimate / uber" reissues are becoming comical.
posted by davebush at 3:08 PM on November 26, 2011


Well, technically, this isn't a reissue. It's live material from his most recent tour.

I agree that the reissue thing is a bit ridiculous, but this isn't part of that. I mean, it's part of the greater phenomenon of trying to create collector's packages of material to get people to spend a large amount of money on something to make up for lost revenue in this new age of internet music availability... But this particular FPP isn't about a reissue.
posted by hippybear at 3:21 PM on November 26, 2011


Seriously, who knew?

Well, I mean, I did. From his best album of the last 20 years, IMO.
posted by tremspeed at 3:23 PM on November 26, 2011


I do have to agree that Painted From Memory is under-rated. It's one of my favorites.
posted by winna at 3:38 PM on November 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


What happened to Elvis Costello? Since about 1990 his music has seemed pretty much unlistenable. Am I the only one who thinks this?


I'm sure there are others, but you're all wrong.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 4:02 PM on November 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


By the way, this is as good a place as any for me to do the thing where I say The Juliet Letters is really fantastic and that you should give it a try and then everyone ignores that and doesnt bother.

Like they always do.
Sigh.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 4:05 PM on November 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Seriously, get a sense of sarcasm. I buy at least 3 CDs or records a month. It doesn't change the underlying truth of the margin the label makes on a CD compared to the amount the artist gets. So take a pill.

spicynuts, may I suggest that it's not "You Should See the Other Guy" who needs to fix their sense of sarcasm, when so many have favorited his post. Poor communication is not the fault of the listener.
posted by IAmBroom at 5:05 PM on November 26, 2011


I didn't realize favorites helped determine who wins an argument. If so, the game ain't over and he's only winning by 3 favorites. Regardless, his post could get 500 favoites - it wouldn't change my opinion. The underlying ECONOMICS, not the value proposition, is an outrage.
posted by spicynuts at 5:22 PM on November 26, 2011


Well, I mean, I did. From his best album of the last 20 years, IMO.


Weirdly, I was convinced that "Doll Revolution" was from "Brutal Youth", which I really liked a lot as an album, although possibly because of "This is Hell"...
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:23 PM on November 26, 2011


(Incidentally, I don't think this is outragefilter. If there are 1,500 people who want to spent $260 on this, more power to them: people can spend $10,000 on a Vertu S60 phone, if they want, and while it seems silly and unwise it isn't any more immoral than getting a ZTE Blade and spending the rest on sweets.

I think this is an interesting example of an artist potentially having a specific belief about how the pricing strategy of his label affects his personal brand, and thus sales and the digital dissemination of his work, which leads him to the unusual situation of telling his fans not to buy a product specifically aimed at them.

As an illustrative parallel, Trent Reznor sold a "deluxe edition" of Ghosts I-IV for $300, in a limited edition of 2,500 - but he did it at a point where anyone could buy a digital download for $5, or get the first 9 tracks for free.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:34 PM on November 26, 2011


As an illustrative parallel, Trent Reznor sold a "deluxe edition" of Ghosts I-IV for $300, in a limited edition of 2,500 - but he did it at a point where anyone could buy a digital download for $5, or get the first 9 tracks for free.)

Well, that's different on a lot of levels. Reznor did that Ghosts project completely outside of any record label support, and he offered several different versions of the project at many different price levels. Plus, he personally signed each of those 2500 in that expensive edition, and he made it clear from the get-go that the project, from the free download to the $300 edition, were all a bit of an experiment as he transitioned away from his record label.

A more accurate illustrative parallel would be when NIN was on tour in Australia, and Reznor found the band's albums were being sold in record stores for really high prices. When he confronted his label about the pricing, he was told that his fans were willing to pay those prices (about $30).

He ended up telling Australian media and people at his concerts that his fans should pirate his stuff rather than buy it.

Costello isn't saying pirate his music, but he IS saying to avoid spending stupidly high prices for music which can be gotten more reasonably once it's released in January.
posted by hippybear at 6:59 PM on November 26, 2011


Regardless, his post could get 500 favoites - it wouldn't change my opinion. The underlying ECONOMICS, not the value proposition, is an outrage.

Happy to see you've begun communicating effectively again, spicynuts.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:32 PM on November 26, 2011


I agree that the reissue thing is a bit ridiculous...

Indeed.
posted by juiceCake at 8:54 PM on November 26, 2011


And "So Like Candy" is, of course, from Mighty Like A Rose. Fan fail.
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:55 PM on November 26, 2011


Elvis often the worst at whoring his stuff out, though. For instance, at present, My Aim is True is available in five different version (3 2-CDs, a 1CD, and an LP). Two would be plenty.

I'd like to know how much he actually has to do with this too. Rykodisc issued his back catalogue in 2-CD form starting in 1993, and then Rhino won the rights less than ten years later and issued another set (which Costello wrote liner notes for) starting in 2001 and concluding in 2006, and then Universal picked them up and started putting out both single-disc and double-disc versions of the early albums in 2007, with no liner notes. Is it odd that his stuff was up for grabs again so quickly each time? I know Rykodisc eventually collapsed and Rhino has been gutted, but both of them seem to have been operational at the time that the rights passed to the next label. How does licensing work with back catalogues? What's normal? How much say does he have at a label that isn't as artist-friendly as Rhino or Rykodisc?
posted by Adventurer at 7:29 AM on November 27, 2011


I worked at Ryko just after the Costello reissues came out. Our American 1CD issues were strictly U.S. reprints of editions then being put out by Costello's British label, Demon. Costello and Jake Riviera (his long-time manager and founder of Demon) owned all rights to the material and controlled the packaging, liner notes, and content wholesale. Since it was only a licensing deal, here was even some rumored annoyance from the UK camp that Ryko was getting undue praise for work they didn't actually do. The only input Ryko had, frankly, was the green jewel cases. When our rights expired, Riviera and Costello went to Rhino and issued a more expansive set, again under their sole supervision. As I understand it, they are at least so involved in all the "legacy" reissues of his pre-Warners catalogue. And since Rhino is owned by Warners, that would account for the addition of the WB-era material to the reissue lineup.
posted by mykescipark at 10:13 AM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


"...The Juliet Letters. I love this album, but I'm in a minority." -- Joey Michaels

"By the way, this is as good a place as any for me to do the thing where I say The Juliet Letters is really fantastic and that you should give it a try and then everyone ignores that and doesnt bother." -- Senor Cardgage

You are not alone! I love that album.
posted by litlnemo at 7:15 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


litlnemo and Senor Cardgage - you should both check out Katarzyna Groniec's version of the songs from The Juliet Letters when you get the chance. Many are available on YouTube. Her versions tend to be more cabaret, but they're excellent. In fact, there's a bunch of excellent recordings of various songs from The Julie Letters by various string quartets and singers if you poke around a bit,
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:47 PM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


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