“I don’t spend my time perfecting the past, I live for the future ’cause I know it won’t last.” Newspaper Pane
If the last album you heard by Elvis Costello kicked off with him sounding like the angry young man, know that he is now 66 years old and don’t be so fucking surprised when his new album starts off with some Sting-sounding world music thing. It’s called “Revolution # 49” and while I’m all for artists stretching themselves. I could live without hearing it again.
We saw Elvis about two years ago and while we enjoyed it, I was disappointed that EC has started to fashion himself into some latter-day crooner (like his dad.) I don’t expect him to spend the rest of his life singing “Radio Radio” but c’mon man, you must be pissed off about something.
According to the Boston Globe, the album’s “eclecticism is rooted in the way in which its songs came to be. Costello recorded three of the album’s tracks, working alone, in Helsinki last February. He then headed to Paris, where he recorded nine songs a few days later with an ensemble, led by stalwart collaborator Steve Nieve, that Costello dubbed “le Quintette Saint Germain.”
Then the pandemic intervened. The music for the two remaining tracks on “Hey Clockface” was recorded in New York by Michael Leonhart, with contributions from Bill Frisell, Nels Cline, and others; Costello added lyrics to complete them from an undisclosed location “via the miracle of telecommunications,” as the press release for the album puts it.”
“No Flag” is the first real song on the album and it rocks out pretty nicely. But the first song I really got into was, well, a ballad of sorts called “They’re Not Laughing At Me Now.”
Tell me, how does it feel?
In the hour of deception and the moment of pretend
To be scorned by those rank and those unkind strangers
You were fool enough to call your friends
Will you say as the curtain descends?
“They’re not laughing at me now”
Somewhere along the way, EC developed a taste for jazz. I wouldn’t call him a jazzer per se but the title tune has that jaunty early-jazz feel. I wouldn’t be surprised if Woody Allen didn’t find a place for it in his next movie.
Here’s “Hey Clockface” with John Baptiste from Stephen Colbert’s band.
The whole album’s below but I’ll leave you with “Newspaper Pane” which has a strange “Watching the Detectives”-like moodiness:
I guess that before the shit hit the fan pandemic-wise, Elvis was gonna record with Nick Lowe and the Attractions. I like this album and I will be spinning it a few more times for sure. But I also wouldn’t mind hearing This Year’s Model Part 2 someday.