The Australian, February 7, 2011

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The Australian

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Elvis Costello retires from making albums,
says it's 'the end of the line' for the format


Iain Shedden

Elvis Costello has retired from making albums. The acclaimed English songwriter, due to visit Australia with his band The Imposters in April, told The Australian today that the album format had reached "the end of the line" and that his album from last year, National Ransom, would be his last.

"There are no more albums" said Costello. "That's done now. I think that we've come to the end of the line with albums. There will be new songs and new places to put them and ways to release them, but I don't have a recording contract and I'm not seeking one."

Costello's declaration is a reflection of the dramatic shift in the way people consume music in the 21st century. Sales of CD albums have slumped dramatically worldwide in the past 12 months, a decline in sales not compensated for by new digital music formats such as iTunes.

"You're swimming against the tide with the structure of things," the singer said. Costello added that he would continue to write new material, but was uncertain about how he would go about recording or releasing it.

"There are new ways to consider making your music available," he said, "but for now I have a plan to stay out of the way of that kind of thing maybe for five or 10 years or something."

Costello said that his lifestyle was a consideration in his decision to stop making albums. He is married to singer Diana Krall, with whom he has four-year-old twin boys.

"I have a lot of other responsibilities, some of them that aren't anything to do with music," he said. "You can't spend your entire life enjoying yourself in everything you do. You have to choose."

Aside from his recording career, Costello has become popular in recent years as a television host on his music chat show Spectacle, which screen in Australia on the ABC. However, he doesn't plan to make any more of those either. "Like recording, we could come back to the idea," he said.

The singer and songwriter has made 32 studio albums in a career that began with My Aim Is True in 1977. Among his best-known collections are Armed Forces, King of America and Blood and Chocolate. He has released material in a variety of genres, from pop to jazz, and with collaborators as diverse as Burt Bacharach and the Brodsky Quartet.

Costello has hinted before that he would stop recording (and performing), as long ago as the 1990s, but he has been prolific as a recording artist since then. He's emphatic, however, about ending his affair with albums.

"I don't feel that it (the album format) is dead," Costello said.

"It's just not what I want to do. And I made a really good one to end on."

Costello remains heavily committed to performing, however, and has shows lined up for much of this year. He begins his Australian tour, which includes appearances at the International East Coast Blues and Roots Festival in Byron Bay, NSW, on April 17.

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The Australian, February 7, 2011


Iain Shedden interviews Elvis Costello about his forthcoming Australian tour.


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