ICE, September 1998

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ICE magazine

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Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello
Paint From Memory


After two arduous sessions, Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello - songwriting icons from two vastly different musical generations - will deliver their much-anticipated collaborations, Painted From Memory, on September 29.

The Mercury release, produced by the pair, features the vocals and lyrics of Costello juxtaposed against Bacharach's musical arrangements and orchestrations. Guest musicians abound, including longtime Costello pianist Steve Nieve, veteran session musicians Jim Keltner, Greg Cohen, Dean Parks, Greg Phillinganes, Paulinho Da Costa, and Jerry Hey, and a 36-piece string section. The track list is as follows: "In the Darkest Place," "Toledo," "I Still Have That Other Girl," "This House is Empty Now," "Tears at the Birthday Party," "Such Unlikely Lovers," "My Thief," "The Long Division" "The Sweetest Punch," "What's Her Name Today?," the title cut and "God Give Me Strength," which the twosome wrote for the 1996 film Grace of My Heart.

Despite the historically disparate styles of the two artistic giants involved, Mercury Group Chairman Danny Goldberg told ICE the album "is definitely a child of both of them. You can feel very vividly the distinctive signatures of both Elvis and Burt, without one dominating the other. There was a tangible artistic love affair that they had with each other, and as a result, [the record] is really a brilliant breakthrough for both of them."

When it's mentioned to Goldberg that mainstream music fans may be much more familiar with Burt Bacharach's compositions for other artists ("Close to You" for the Carpenters. "What's New Pussycat?" for Tom Jones, among scores of others) than they are with Bacharach himself, he says emphatically, "First and foremost, this is an Elvis Costello record. It's the first record in his deal for us. He's the singer, and that tends to give the signature to a record, ultimately. But the combination is very intriguing, so in that regard it may generate more interest than a solo record by either of them

"There've been a number of records that have touched a nerve with adults that have subsequently developed mass appeal - like Tony Bennett's Unplugged, of Bonnie Raitt's Nick of Time - and I think this [record] is in that general category musically; very conceptual and intelligent. There are a lot of different tempos - some songs are faster than others - but it's certainly a record for adults. There's no punk rock on it."

Goldberg says there are no plans for a commercially released single, but that the label will focus on certain tracks that have not been determined yet. One thing that has been determined is that, as far as Goldberg is concerned, this is the most important release on Mercury Records under his leadership.

"I'm pretty jaded, having been in the business all these years," he laughs, "but these are two guys I'd put on a pedestal. This is the kind of [record] that could win awards, that will be remembered 20 years from now."


ICE, No. 138, September 1998

ICE previews Painted From Memory.


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