How boring — another first-rate Costello album. This live package recorded in The Hague two years ago brings together previously unrecorded Costello numbers and some well-known titles in imaginative settings. Accompanied by long-standing keyboardist Steve Nieve and a full orchestra, Costello recasts the 14 songs as artful big-band/swing-jazz numbers.
"Clubland," then, becomes an atmospheric cha-cha, while "Watching the Detectives" moves from roots reggae to a full-blown cinematic piece reminiscent of parts of West Side Story, and it's one of the most exciting arrangements we've heard in ages. Equally fine is the tender "Almost Blue," a gorgeous old-school ballad complete with cloudy strings and haunting harmonica and trumpet, and the set-closer, Costello's epic Burt Bacharach collaboration, "God Give Me Strength."
The package, in stores Tuesday, also includes a bonus disc of a 46-minute suite from Il Sogno, Costello's score to an Italian dance adaptation of Shakespeare recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra.
C'mon, Elvis, make a lousy album for a change.