Rolling Stone, September 30, 1999

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Rolling Stone

Bill Frisell

The Sweetest Punch: The New Songs of Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach

New versions of Costello and Bacharach's recent classics

James Hunter

LAST YEAR, WHEN ELVIS COSTELLO wrote and recorded with Burt Bacharach for their Painted From Memory collaboration, Costello insisted that Bacharach's contribution to pop music was much more than an Austin Powers-style retro lark. Costello was right. The problem, however - which wasn't always overcome on the album - was how to make great new Bacharach music that wasn't stranded in the past, how to revive the master's dynamic orchestrations and elegant drifts and still move forward.

Eclectic guitarist Bill Frisell offers a debonair solution on this set of arrangements, which he wrote for the songs on Painted From Memory before hearing what Costello and Bacharach ultimately recorded. The approach is counterintuitive, replacing all of Bacharach's harmonic maroons and aquas and ambers with Frisell's customary browns and grays. Pieces like the title song, a spectacular excursion through "In the Darkest Place," and a version of "I Still Have That Other Girl" with Costello and Cassandra Wilson are aloof in ways Bacharach never is, but they work:

The seven-piece band's excited distance whispers, "Consider these songs compositions. And you do.

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Rolling Stone, No. 822, September 30, 1999

James Hunter reviews The Sweetest Punch.


1999-09-30 Rolling Stone cover.jpg


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