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Review of My Flame Burns Blue
Sydney Morning Herld, 2006-01-15
Craig Matheson

The Week's Most Talked About Release

My Flame is Blue Elvis Costello (Universal) Rating: 8/10

Elvis Costello can't be contained. Having hit the age of 50, a time when the creativity of many musicians calcifies and they have to rely on nostalgic regard, this bitter, brilliant escapee from the punk era continues to expand his range. In his imminent Sydney Festival appearances Costello will feature in three separate perfomances - with pianist Steve Nieve, classical string ensemble The Brodsky Quartet and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra - which highlight his eclectic eye and extensive body of work. Should you somehow want more, there's "My Flame Burns Blue". A live recording from the 2004 North Sea Jazz Festival, it finds Costello working with jazz orchestra Metropole Orkest, an expansive group whose playing rises to meet Costello's snarling asides and complements his tender declarations. Unlike other artists, Costello isn't just adding strings to his hits. "Clubland" and "Watching the Detectivs" have a jazzy insouciance but "Hora Decubitus" features new lyrics over a Charles Mingus tune and "That's How You Got Killed Before" is a big band tune unearthed from the 1950s. The result is an engrossing and revelatory set, culminating on a perfect note "God Give Me Strength", Costello's signature collaboration with Burt Bacharach. - (Craig Matheson).