Cover albums released recently by Duran Duran, Gloria Estefan, Luther Vandross and Annie Lennox have concentrated on recycling old hits. Costello, however, has focused on catchy yet obscure songs only an old record fanatic would know. Kojak Variety (Costello refuses to explain why he selected this offbeat title) encompasses a wide range of genres, from Screamin' Jay Hawkins's rollicking "Strange" to Mose Allison's bluesy "Everybody's Crying Mercy" to the bouncy soul of James Carr's "Pouring Water on a Drowning Man" and Little Richard's rave-up "Bama Lama Bama Loo." Backed by a fine band of studio musicians, Costello seems to be having more fun on this record than he has had in years. His attitude is laid-back and intimate—and leaves you feeling that you've had the great luck to catch him at some dingy, out-of-the-way nightclub where he's shown up unannounced just to jam.