Here's a nifty last-minute item for not only the Elvis Costello fan on your list, but anybody who has ever enjoyed the voice or concerts of this significant songwriter.
A nice boxed collection, Costello & Nieve was meant to be a series of limited edition singles, with five songs each, documenting each city on Costello's limited tour last spring with Attractions pianist Steve Nieve.
None dare utter the word "Unplugged," but Costello strips down songs from his then-upcoming All This Useless Beauty album, along with smart rearrangements of some of his great old songs, from "Temptation" and "Watching the Detectives" to a non-electronic version of his epic "My Dark Life," which he recorded for the X-Files soundtrack album with Brian Eno.
Given the luxury of one- or two-man interpretation, "Man Out of Time" turns easily to "Shallow Grave"; the final song is a tour de force medley that incorporates "Alison," with the Spinners' "Living a Little, Laughing a Little," three Smokey Robinson "tear" songs — "Tracks of My Tears," "Tears of a Clown" and "No More Tear-stained Makeup" — and, finally, "Clowntime Is Over."
Is Clowntime over? Stickers on the modestly priced package say "Never Before, Never Again." That, along with the cryptic farewell messages on his summer tour, make one think Costello may not come back this way in exactly this package. That makes this collection that much more worthy.