READERS may have spotted Elvis Costello lurking in the pages of Review last week, waxing lyrically, as it were, about the new music he and a handful of colleagues have welded to words Bob Dylan ditched 47 years ago.
This will emerge as Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes Vol 1, in November. That’s not the only endeavour that has been keeping Costello busy of late, as he explained in some detail after he had finished talking about His Bobness. Aside from being on the road this year, including in Australia, the prolific songwriter has been reunited for weeks at a time with Burt Bacharach, the veteran American craftsman with whom Costello created the album Painted From Memory in 1998.
In the past year the two men have embarked on a couple of projects in tandem. The first is a new album, to be released next year, which Costello says is “based on turning the corner from the story we told on Painted from Memory”. The other is a tad more left-field. The Bacharach-Costello songwriting partnership is behind the music of a Broadway musical based on the Mike Myers spoof spy vehicle Austin Powers. The musical has been in the pipeline for three years but there is no word on when it is likely to go into production. Costello, however, is happy with the change of pace and how their contribution to it has progressed.
“It was great of Mike to invite us into the process,” Costello says. “It’s just a great licence to write all kinds of wild songs, from heartbreaking ballads to psychedelic rock ’n’ roll songs. The lyrics have to come out of the characters, so it’s a different kind of discipline. It’s not like making a record.” If nothing else it has given Costello another opportunity to work with one of the most lauded pop songwriters in history, who at 86 shows no sign of slowing down.
“He has the energy of a man many years his junior,” says Costello. “And he still has a phenomenal gift for melody. We wrote these songs for Painted from Memory that I’m really very fond of and that people seem to still hold with a lot of affection. So to write more of them and then have something totally in contrast like Austin Powers is fantastic. We’ve written about 30 songs since November.”
RARELY predictable, the artist known as Prince is about to release two albums on the same day, September 26. Art Official Age (see what he did there?) and Plectrumelectrum differ greatly in content, according to the Warner Bros press machine. The former is a “classic Prince album” and “a contemporary concoction of soul, R&B and funk’’. The latter is more a “classic band record”, that band being 3RDEYEGIRL, which features the star alongside guitarist Donna Grantis, drummer Hannah Ford Welton and bassist Ida Nielsen. That one’s “an electrifying funk-rock statement”.