In recent years, Elvis Costello has collaborated with artists ranging from Burt Bacharach to classical mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter on a variety of eclectic projects. But the post-punk pop bard is ready to rock again, in his fashion. Costello's new CD, When I Was Cruel — due in stores this spring, probably in April — is full of witty, gritty tunes with such piquant titles as "Tart," "Episode of Blonde" and "Tear Off Your Head (It's a Doll Revolution)."
"I never liked that 'rock' word, because to me it always meant some guy with his shirt open, with a lot of hair and something down his trousers," Costello muses. "And yet now, pop has become a dirty word, often meaning something kind of joyless and contrived. I guess I'd just say this record is rowdier, and there's more rhythm in it than the last couple of records I made."
Cruel finds Costello working with old friends Pete Thomas and Steve Nieve, the original drummer and keyboardist in the singer's band The Attractions.
Costello had originally thought of calling the CD "I'm in the Mood Again," he quips — "or, I'm in a Mood Again." So why When I Was Cruel — and, when was he cruel? "When was I not? I just like the way the title could apply to a number of thoughts and different songs on the record. I'm going to leave it to other people to work out what the words mean."