Born four years apart and releasing their first albums one year apart, Prince and Elvis Costello are artists that I also associate as eventually becoming capable of writing and singing nearly any kind of song exceptionally well.
This mix is not intended to represent everything fantastic about EC 1994-2006 – not by a long shot.
It specifically curates the Costello development that proceeded from such early indicators as “Alison,” “Hoover Factory,” “Almost Blue,” “Boy With a Problem,” “Shipbuilding,” etc., and from Costello’s abiding interest in what can loosely be called American Popular Song. These are songs that might have originated in a musical, sung by a character, later to be picked up by others as a standard.
This mix is also a celebration of the dynamic duo of Elvis Costello and pianist Steve Nieve, collaborators for nearly two decades by the time of the earliest recordings on this mix. Nieve appears on every, or nearly every song here.
The selections come from the albums of the period (including expanded edition material), a series of EC & Steve E.P.s, and a little bit from bootlegs. The cover photo is from some years later, but I couldn’t find one that I liked better.
- All This Useless Beauty
- Favorite Hour (Church Studios version)
- Poor Fractured Atlas
- Still Too Soon to Know
- Just a Memory (live 1996)
- When Did I Stop Dreaming?
- That Day is Done
- When It Sings
- Let Me Tell You About Her
- I Want to Vanish
- World’s Great Optimist (demo)
- All the Rage (live 1996)
- Black Sails in the Sunset (live 1996)
- Can You Be True? (live 2004)
- Almost Blue (live 2004)
- Baby Plays Around (live 1999)