Elvis Costello & The Imposters – The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook!!! Super Deluxe Box Set

Musically The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook!!! Super Deluxe Box Set‏ from Elvis Costello & The Imposters is an impressive release showing even after three decades plus, the man is still a masterful and eager performer. Financially though there is a huge element of almost disdain towards the release with even Costello himself having aired his issues about it publicly to his fans that casts a shadow over the release.

The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook!!! Super Deluxe Box Set is a three disc live package recorded over a 2-night stand at The Wiltern in Los Angeles on May 11 and 12, 2011. The tracks come from all through Costello’s career from early songs like ‘Watching The Detectives’  through to newer material such as ‘National Ransom’ and all evidence that the man has lost none of his prowess and ability to transfix and mesmerise, the performance fuelled by an enthused energy.

The spinning songbook concept first occurred in 1986 during the ‘Costello Sings Again Tour’. The idea being to give the audience the ‘power’ to choose the songs performed by letting selected fans between each song spin the giant wheel listing song titles. Earlier this year, Elvis Costello and the Imposters (Steve Nieve, Davey Faragher and Pete Thomas) set out in the US on The Revolver Tour of which the two dates comprising the release come from.

The first disc is a CD consisting of sixteen songs taken from both nights at The Wiltern. They are a vibrant set of live tracks that have a good raw feel which inspires the feeling one is right there in the enthralled audience. Tracks including ‘Mystery Dance’, ‘Radio Radio’, ‘Lipstick Vogue’, ‘Everyday I Write The Book’, and ‘All Grown Up ‘ with a wonderful piano display from Nieve, all light up the ears and senses, equally bringing back memories and thoughts of one’s personal musical history as much as aurally reminding of  the impact and strength Costello has made and given music.

The second disc is a DVD of the complete May 12th performance and includes songs like ‘Clubland’, ‘Stella Hurt’, and a cover of the Mick Jagger-Keith Richards written ‘Out Of Time’. Also it sees a guest appearance from Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles on ‘Tear Off Your Own Head (It’s A Doll Revolution)’. The final disc is a 10″ vinyl featuring ‘Pump it Up (6/8)’ and ‘Busted’ on side A with ‘Brilliant Mistake’ and ‘Strict time’ making up the B-side. With the inclusion of a 40-page hardback book with includes concert photos and tour diary plus the box set being individually numbered and signed by Costello the release is an exciting package that will thrill all fans of the great man.

When one says fans this release is for the real diehard fans one feels with a sense of exploitation behind it which one should emphasize has nothing to do with the artist himself. With the package coming in at an Amazon listed cost of approximately $262/£212.99 this is an heavy price for what is certainly a lavish release but also hardly packed with vast amounts of songs, though maybe the fact the box set is limited to just 1,500 copies helped the label justify this extreme price. The Costello camp itself voiced their opinion via the official website http://www.elviscostello.com saying “We at http://www.elviscostello.com find ourselves unable to recommend The Return Of The Spectacular Spinning Songbook!!! as the price appears to be either a misprint or a satire.” It certainly is a staggering amount and as great as the man is it is hard to imagine any release from any artist that consists of 1 CD, 1 DVD and a 10” vinyl disc can be worth that kind of money. With individual items planned for release early 2012 the advice is to wait, though on this evidence who knows what the label will come up with cost wise then.

Looking at it musically though and The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook!!! is a wonderful release and yet another great addition to music’s history from Elvis Costello. With dates for the 2012 ‘Revolver’ Spring UK tour starting in May next year will be an exciting time for British Elvis Costello fans.

RingMaster 10/12/2011

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