ELVIS COSTELLO has worked with Burt Bacharach, Paul McCartney — and his own wife, Diana Krall — in a glittering career now in its sixth decade. He has sung country tunes, played classical pieces and made his last album, Hey Clockface, in Helsinki, Paris and New York. But his latest venture is his most outlandish yet — an idea that shouldn’t work… but somehow does.
Teaming up with his long-term collaborator Sebastian Krys, an Argentinian studio whizz, the singer has gone back to his brilliant 1978 LP This Year’s Model and remade it entirely in Spanish.
Using the original master tapes, remixed and sometimes extended by Krys, he has invited an eclectic cast of Latin musicians to provide their own interpretations. The idea came about after Elvis was asked to add a female vocalist to the album track This Year’s Girl for the HBO TV drama series The Deuce.
That sparked a dream in which he heard This Year’s Model, a raw and energetic album dating back to the punk era, performed in Spanish. With Krys assembling the singers, his bizarre dream is now a reality.
The original record contained many of his most memorable songs, and some of his initial backing vocals remain intact here. He joins Colombian star Juanes on the frenetic Pump It Up, now extended to incorporate a long-lost contribution by Clash guitarist Mick Jones (who also plays on Big Tears).
Texan singer Nina Diaz shines on No Action, now lengthened to accommodate a fierce drum solo by Pete Thomas of The Attractions, while the language barrier is no obstacle to La Marisoul, one of several women singers here, on Little Triggers.
There are moments when those who grew up with This Year’s Model will hanker for the original takes. For that, there’s also a re-master of the 1978 album on CD and vinyl. Costello himself maintains his habit of making bold moves. ‘I think my audience is used to surprises by now,’ he says. This new Modelo Española certainly fits that bill.