Reader T.J. Young of Bloomington, MN writes, "In the U.K., Demon/Edsel released three box sets (The Singles Vols. 1-3) that reproduce Elvis Costello's original vinyl singles over a total of 35 CDs. The amount of love and care lavished on them is immediately evident, and several tracks make their CD debut on these collections. However, in at least two instances, it seems the wrong tapes were employed.
"On the original vinyl single for "I Want You," the B-side was a solo demo of the song "I Hope You're Happy Now." On its new CD counterpart, the version of "I Hope" is actually a previously unreleased full-band outtake from the King of America sessions.
"Similarly, the version of "Wondering" that appears on the "I'm Your Toy (Live)" single also seems to be an alternate. Although very similar, there are some variations in the vocal track that give it away.
"In both cases, this results in the original versions of these tracks remaining sadly unavailable on CD. Are there any plans for Demon/ Edsel to issue a corrected edition?
"On a happier note, if should be noted that the "Alison" single has an unlisted third track, the (in) famous U.S. single mix of "Alison." It features added synth-strings and other incongruous elements that Elvis himself has repeatedly disavowed!"
To ascertain how these accidents happened, we contacted Val Jennings of Demon/Edsel in the U.K., the point man at the label for this project. Jennings confirms for ICE the obvious, that the wrong masters were pulled for those two tracks. The upside for collectors, of course, is the acquisition of two new Costello outtakes, which had never been heard before. "They're not so hugely different as to be headline news," Jennings surmises, "but they're still two previously unreleased tracks, which is a plus side."
Jennings did not say the set would be corrected and re-pressed; labels usually wait to see how well a release of this nature sells before deciding on second runs. But the possibility of compiling one more disc gathering the rest of Elvis's odds & ends — including the two versions that should have been on the Singles boxes — is a very real one.
"It depends in the end, really, on whether we have enough material for it," Jennings says. He cites as one example "the 12-inch special remix of "Green Shirt," only released in the U.K. as sort of a "cash-in" type single on green vinyl, back in 1984, to go with the first-ever TV compilation of Elvis's stuff." Still completely unavailable on CD.
As for including the much-derided mix of "Alison" as the third, unlisted track on that single, Jennings says, "That was the only way Elvis would let me include it: if we didn't mention it. I was pleased I managed to talk him into doing that, but that was the only way he'd allow me.
"One of the many European fanzines made much in their review that we missed the opportunity to include that track — even though we include a picture of the Columbia label. I can't be bothered to write to him and say, 'Maybe you should try actually listening to the record [laughter]."
Jennings added an anecdote about the packaging: "Volume one includes the single sleeve for "Accidents Will Happen" in its original form, as it was released in the U.K., where the [sleeve] was actually made up inside-out [graphics on the inside, plain white paper on the outside]. As a result, I've been waiting for a flood of calls — in fact, I've been waiting for a call from ICE — with people saying, "Oh, this is wrong." But so far I've only had two calls, one from the printer in England and one from a guy in Vienna... neither of whom got the joke.