Elvis Costello cheekily titled his 1978 sophomore album This Year’s Model. But while the artist may have borrowed Presley’s name and Buddy Holly’s glasses, he wasn’t just that year’s model…he was built to last. Now, after a year in which he already reimagined several tracks from his 2020 studio album Hey Clockface into French for the EP La Face de Pendule à Coucou, the ever-adventurous, fiercely original artist has taken his international explorations one giant step forward. On September 10, Costello and UMe will release Spanish Model, a covers album unlike any other.
For Spanish Model, Costello and frequent collaborator Sebastian Krys (Look Now, Hey Clockface) assembled a cast of Latin rock and pop superstars to reinterpret the entirety of This Year’s Model, but with a twist: all of the singers recorded over Costello and The Attractions’ original tracks. The original Model was Elvis’ first album with The Attractions – Steve Nieve (keyboards), Pete Thomas (drums), and Bruce Thomas (bass) – and introduced a number of staples still in a typical Costello setlist today, including the pulsating “Pump It Up,” defiant “(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea,” and misunderstood “This Year’s Girl.” The latter, a biting critique of the way men objectify women that was perceived as misogynistic, was recently adopted as the theme to the HBO drama The Deuce with additional vocals performed by Natalie Bergman. That rendition led to the germ of the idea that became Spanish Model.
The album features new vocals by Cami, Draco Rosa, Fito Páez, Francisca Valenzuela and Luis Humberto Navejas (lead singer of Enjambre), Gian Marco and Nicole Zignago, Jesse and Joy, Jorge Drexler, Juanes, La Marisoul, Luis Fonsi, Morat, Nina Diaz, Pablo López, Raquel Sofía & Fuego, Sebastián Yatra, and Vega. Juanes’ electrifying take on “Pump It Up” – a pretty remarkable fusion of the old and the new – has been selected as the lead single and is now streaming. Colombian artist Juanes is no stranger to Costello’s music, and collaborated with both Pete Thomas and Sebastian Krys on his own Origen album. In addition to the U.S. and Colombia, the artists hail from Argentina, Chile, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, and Uruguay. Elsten Torres and Ximena Muñoz have collaborated with Costello and Krys to adapt the original lyrics into the Spanish language while preserving the original intentions of the songs.
The album boasts 16 tracks, encompassing all of the songs on both the U.K. and U.S. versions of This Year’s Model – the U.S. edition on Columbia Records dropped “(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea” and “Night Rally” and added the incendiary “Radio Radio,” previously released as a non-LP single in the U.K. – plus the associated tracks “Big Tears,” “Crawling to the U.S.A.,” and “Running Out of Angels.” In addition to supporting the new vocals, Krys’ remix promises to bring out new details in the original recordings produced by Nick Lowe and engineered by Roger Bechirian. Some of the tracks have longer fades, revealing more of Costello and Mick Jones’ dueling guitars on “Pump It Up” and Pete Thomas’s Keith Moon-worthy drum explosion on “No Action.” Listen closely, too, for some vocal cameos from Costello.
After last year’s vinyl-only box set of Armed Forces, Spanish Model will be released in LP and CD formats (as well as digitally), while a special 2-LP, 180-gram black vinyl set exclusive to uDiscoverMusic.com and Sound of Vinyl brings together the album with the remastered original This Year’s Model. Additionally, the remastered This Year’s Model will be released on CD and LP, adding “Radio Radio” and “Big Tears” to the original 12-song U.K. album sequence. (Dig the custom Columbia-style label on the reissue!) All titles and formats are due on September 10 from UMe and can be pre-ordered at the links below. “Part of the fun of this project is its unexpected nature,” Costello said of Spanish Model in a statement. “Although, I think people in my audience that have been paying attention are pretty much used to surprises by now.” He isn’t kidding. Pump it up!
Elvis Costello, Spanish Model (UMe, 2021)
Elvis Costello, This Year’s Model (Radar (U.K.) RAD 3/Columbia (U.S.) JC 35331, 1978 – reissued UMe, 2021)