This year’s model of Elvis Costello is shaping up to be one that sounds very familiar to his fans. With the 30th anniversary of his first album, 1977’s “My Aim Is True,” looming, Costello is filling the year with archival projects.
On May 1 he releases two new compilations — “The Best Of Elvis Costello: The First 10 Years” and “Rock and Roll Music” — and his first 11 albums. Those titles will also be released digitally — exclusively via the iTunes Music Store for 30 days before becoming available at other digital music retailers.
A 30th anniversary deluxe edition of “My Aim Is True” will also be released this fall with bonus material such as demos, alternate versions, and live tracks.
“It wasn’t really my initiative,” Costello tells Billboard.com, crediting the Universal Music Group with the catalog projects. He did, however, fully participate in the endeavors.
“It doesn’t require a huge amount of soul-searching to do it,” Costello notes. “You’re trying to make a program that might interest people who’ve never heard you before. It’s another way to present it that’s neither superior or inferior; it’s just different.”
Costello, who’s done similar reissue campaigns with other labels, adds, “There’s no compulsion to buy these records. If they interest you, you’ll buy them. The fact that they’re going to be available (digitally) makes people’s ability to buy them in excerpts easier, because people tend to do that these days when they’re online — if they haven’t stolen them already.”
The “Rock and Roll Music” collection will include some rarities, including an alternate take of “Honey, Are You Straight or Are You Blind,” live versions of “You Belong to Me” and “Mystery Dance,” and a demo of “Welcome to the Working Week” which will also be part of the “My Aim Is True: Deluxe Edition.” That set is just starting to be compiled, according to the artist.
Costello will also delve into his past tonight (April 17) as the inaugural guest in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame educational series about songwriting, “The Craft.” Historian and ex- Del Fuegos member Dr. Warren Zanes will interview Costello in Las Vegas for future broadcast on the Hall’s Web site at a future date.
Meanwhile, Costello and his band, the Imposters, will launch a 10-date U.S. tour May 2 at the House of Blues in West Hollywood, Calif. He and keyboardist Steve Nieve will tour in Europe this summer with Allen Toussaint, and he’s also working with Twyla Tharp on an as-yet-untitled piece for the Miami City Ballet that will be premiered in 2008.