Elvis Costello revels in being an enigma. He craftily darts from one room of life to another, determined not to be trapped in an image or role.
Just look at his history! He kicked off on the folk circuit, surfaced in the '70s as one of the most innovative and convincing new wave artists (with enough success to convince him it was safe to leave a job as computer programmer) then astounded everyone last year when he popped over to Nashville to record a country album.
And he has recorded some fine albums. My Aim Is True was a brilliant debut that was followed by skilful LPs in This Year's Model, Armed Forces and Get Happy, before putting on his cowboy hat for Almost Blue.
And tracks from those albums were hammered out during Elvis' just-completed Australian tour.
With him came his Attractions: Peter Thomas (drums), Bruce Thomas (bass) and Steve Hart (keyboards). a guitar technician. lighting designer. stage manager, monitor engineer, and sound engineer making sure all went smoothly.
In the wake of his tour comes a mini LP called Almost New. The tracks were lovingly selected by WEA Australia to mark the tour, and are, as the title suggests, "almost new".
"Accidents Will Happen" and "Alison" were recorded live at Hollywood High in California and were released only on an EP that came with a limited edition of Armed Forces pressing.
"I Can't Stand Up Falling Down" was originally released on the Get Happy album. "Green Shirt" and "Pump It Up" were on Armed Forces (those tracks aren't even almost new, just very good). "What's So Funny About Peace, Love And Understanding" had not been released in Australia but was included on the American release of Armed Forces. "I'm Your Toy" is completely new, being recorded live at London's Royal Albert Hall.