Elvis Costello decided to go out of his way last week to trash his own new box set. The set in question is The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook, which will be released on Dec. 6 and is selling in the U.S. for $262.52. It's sort of an odd set, since there is only one CD, one DVD and one 10-inch LP plus a book and poster. It clearly is geared toward Costello enthusiasts and was recorded over two nights earlier this year at The Wiltern in Los Angeles.
Instead of buying his box, Costello has urged fans to use their dough to buy Satchmo: Ambassador of Jazz, which is out on the same label—Universal. Writing on his website, Costello told fans: “There was a time when the release of a new title by your favourite record artist was a cause for excitement and rejoicing but sadly no more. Unfortunately, we at www.elviscostello.com find ourselves unable to recommend this lovely item to you as the price appears to be either a misprint or a satire.”
Costello also likened the price to an “elaborate hoax” and said fans should wait until the New Year, when the items from his set will be on sale separately at a more affordable price.
He's right—the pricing seems ridiculously way off for what the consumer is receiving. But I'm also puzzled how one CD, one DVD and one vinyl disc wind up broken down into smaller sell-able packages in 2012.
Actually, the purchase may not be an either-or prospect. American shoppers directed to the Pops set may actually spend their dollars on Armstrong rather than Costello, not both. That's because the four-CD Armstrong box ($56.47)—a distillation of the 10-CD box released over the summer—isn't due until January 10.
Mark Murphy radio—today! Fans of Mark Murphy, the vocalese master, will be gratified to know that my boy "Symphony" Sid Gribetz is hosting a five-hour Jazz Profiles on WKCR-FM today, from 2 to 7 p.m. (EST). You can access the show on your computer from anywhere in the world by going to www.WKCR.org.
Ray Charles. You probably know Mike Post best for writing the theme to Law & Order and other well-known TV crime-courtroom dramas. Way back when, he was a rock-soul arranger. He spoke on-camera with Bret Primack and told a fabulous story about working with Ray Charles...
What is the Wrecking Crew, Alex? Drummer Hal Blaine was a question on Jeopardy last week. In fact, the entire Wrecking Crew was a category on the game show...
CD discoveries of the week. Singer Brad McNett and guitarist Jake Reichbart's Please Come Home for Christmas is a sweet little holiday album. This is bare bones stuff—just the two of them—with Reichbart even doubling as engineer. But it's a pure, tasteful effort, with just the right amount of feeling and sentiment. Dig The Christmas Song, Winter Wonderland and It's the Most Wonderful Time of Year. What's particularly addictive are Brad's endearing vocals and Reichbart's chord voicings. More on Brad here and Reichbart here. You'll find this one here.
Michael Campagna's Moments (Challenge) features nine originals, each of which dances beautifully with rich instrumental harmonies and melodic hooks. Saxophonist and flutist Campagna has even been so bold as to include a harp played by Brandee Younger, who brings angelic lyricism to four of the tracks. Also on this CD are trumpeter/flugelhornist Michael Rodriguez, pianist Robert Rodriguez, bassist Hans Glawischnig and drummer Eric Doob. Sample Journeys, Bridges and Songs for Monica. This is a pretty, pretty album. More on Campagna at his site. You'll find this one at iTunes and Amazon.
When folk-blues guitarist Cary Morin digs into Steely Dan's Black Friday with an acoustic guitar on Sing It Louder (Music Maker), you know the rest of his album has to be slamming. And it is. Morin pulls off song after song beautifully, and his voice and guitar are as honest as they come. There are touches of Jose Feliciano and Levon Helm of The Band here. Check out Together, This Train and Rounders. I can't put my finger on it, but there's something about this album that awakens your conscience. More on Cary Morin at his site along with a video clip. You'll find this one at Amazon.
Oddball album cover of the week. As promised a few months ago when I last featured singer Julie London in this space, here's another one of her hipster bombshell covers. For whatever reason, Liberty Records back in that late '50s routinely cast London as loose in what can only be called a marketing strategy to position her as a singing seductress, pinup model or worse. Except in this case, it seems the art director dispensed with the suggestive poses and outfits, cutting right to the chase. For her part, London seems bored to tears.