The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Costello’s Wheel Good Tour Captured on New Live Box Set

with 21 comments

In 1986, Elvis Costello and The Attractions did something bizarre for rock musicians: they reinvented the wheel. Okay, maybe that’s pushing it, but the introduction of “The Spectacular Spinning Songbook” to Costello’s tour itinerary remains among the most treasured of memories for longtime fans. Costello, who only used The Attractions once on his then-new album, King of America (opting instead for a number of other musicians, including a studio-created group, The Confederates, featuring T-Bone Wolk and Mitchell Froom and members of Elvis Presley’s 1970s T.C.B. Band), reassembled them for a humorously gaudy portion of the tour in which Costello, in character as fictitious game show host Napoleon Dynamite (years before that name was re-appropriated on film), invited audience members to spin a giant wheel to determine what the next song in the set list would be. Selections were varied, from hits to deep cuts to the odd cover or two.

A quarter of a century later, Elvis Costello and The Imposters (featuring original Attractions Steve Nieve on keyboards and Pete Thomas on drums and Davey Farragher on bass) reignited a live frenzy by bringing back the Spectacular Spinning Songbook – and this time, it’s been captured for release. And the lavish box set nature of the release is enough to warrant coverage on The Second Disc, for sure.

Hip-O’s Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook is a limited-edition box – only 1,500 numbered copies worldwide – culled from the group’s two dates at Los Angeles’ Wiltern Theater in May of 2011. The set includes a CD of 16 performances from both nights, ranging from all ends of Costello’s lengthy career, from “Mystery Dance” off his 1978 debut My Aim is True to the title track of 2010’s National Ransom. The accompanying DVD showcases the second show on May 12 and includes highlights in covers of Nick Lowe (“Heart of the City”) and The Rolling Stones (“Out of Time”) as well as “Tear Off Your Own Head (It’s a Doll Revolution),” featuring a guest appearance from Susanna Hoffs, who covered the track with The Bangles a year after Costello released his version on When I Was Cruel in 2002.

The box set also features a 10″ EP with an additional four songs, a 40-page hardbound book of photos and Costello’s journal entries while on tour, a 20″ x 30″ poster, a limited edition tour postcard and a commemorative card signed by Costello himself. Those who don’t want all the super-deluxe trimmings can rest easy, though: next year, the CD and DVD will be released individually and as a two-disc set.

The set’s in shops November 28, but you can order your copy right now through Amazon. Enjoy the set lists after the jump.

Elvis Costello and The Imposters, The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook: Super Deluxe Edition (Hip-O Records B0016176-00, 2011)

Disc 1: CD – The Wiltern Theater, Los Angeles, May 11-12, 2011

  1. I Hope You’re Happy Now
  2. Heart of the City
  3. Mystery Dance
  4. Radio Radio
  5. Everyday I Write the Book
  6. God Give Me Strength
  7. Watching the Detectives
  8. Tear Off Your Own Head (It’s a Doll Revolution) (featuring Susanna Hoffs)
  9. Out of Time (Mick Jagger-Keith Richards)
  10. I Want You
  11. Stella Hurt
  12. All Grown Up
  13. Lipstick Vogue
  14. Man Out of Time
  15. National Ransom
  16. (What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?

Disc 2: DVD – The Wiltern Theater, Los Angeles, May 12, 2011

  1. I Hope You’re Happy Now
  2. Heart of the City
  3. Mystery Dance
  4. Radio Radio
  5. Clubland
  6. God Give Me Strength
  7. Tear Off Your Own Head (It’s a Doll Revolution) (featuring Susanna Hoffs)
  8. Out of Time
  9. I Want You
  10. Everyday I Write the Book
  11. Stella Hurt
  12. A Slow Drag with Josephine
  13. Jimmie Standing in the Rain
  14. Alison
  15. Earthbound
  16. (What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?
  17. Uncomplicated (Bonus Track)
  18. Watching the Detectives (Bonus Track)
  19. Monkey to Man (Bonus Track)

10″ EP: The Wiltern Theater, Los Angeles, May 11-12, 2011

  1. Pump It Up (in 6/8)
  2. Busted
  1. Brilliant Mistake
  2. Strict Time

Written by Mike Duquette

October 26, 2011 at 13:58

21 Responses

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  1. This would be great news, except for one tiny tiny detail: $ 251.52…
    For a CD and a DVD.
    And an EP.
    And an autograph.
    Ah, and there’s a poster, too! 😉

    As far as I’m concerned, Mr. Costello can keep all the 1,500 copies to himself and enjoy them… I’ll gladly wait for the not-so-super-deluxe edition. 🙂


    October 26, 2011 at 18:33

  2. Yeah, this is a piece of crap. $250 and you don’t even get one complete show. If the box contained full versions of both 2 3/4 hour shows (which it should), it would still be overpriced. U2’s Super Deluxe Achtung Baby has 10 discs and only costs $117. For $275, Pearl Jam gives you 24 complete shows on 48 discs. The EC set could have been something great, but it is not.


    October 26, 2011 at 21:52

  3. Enough of this “limited edition,” overpriced crap! When I first hear about this, months ago, I was excited about the possiblity of a new live album from Costello. Just a regular live album with great songs on it. Not some pricey set that’s overflowing with lots of unnecessary flotsam and ridiculously limited in its availabilty.

    Too much of this crap from veterans acts lately. The Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, yadda yadda…. How about these acts opening up the vaults and just putting out vintage live shows for people? No extra frills, just the music, at a reasonable price? How about music-only downloads? High quality downloads (FLAC, for instance) should make this an easy, inexpensive option.


    October 27, 2011 at 12:20

    • I think you are only looking at this from your own point of view (or you are very naive…LOL).
      Do you think they are putting this stuff out to reward fans for years of loyalty or to make money?

      Bill B

      October 27, 2011 at 12:34

      • NO, they’re doing it because most of these veteran artists and bands are fading away as viable current artists (in other words few care for their new music), but their catalogs, and unreleased material are still valuable, so the incentive is to get as much of this stuff out as soon as possible for that reason and for two other reasons First, many of these same artists have an aging, and (sadly, because that means us, guys) dying off fan base. How many of us are going to be around for the 60th anniversary of Wish You Were Here? Secondly, CDs are on the way out, and vinyl-like it or not-is a niche market ,and if this holds, the whole way of packaging music that we have known will cease to exist. I don’t like to download-except as a back-up. I like to hold the product, and read the notes, and stare at the cover. It may be a fetish, but that’s just me. Shaun is right though-at least put it it at a reasonable price. But do the math. They can sell 25,000 copies at 20 bucks, or 10,000 at 100 bucks.


        October 27, 2011 at 13:10

      • Who else’s point of view should I take?

        I’m just saying, esp. in these economic times, I have no interest in the elaborate packaging and the various added tchochkies. Give me the damned music, and make it reasonably priced. Downloads aren’t for everyone. I like having physical product too, but high-quality downloads can be made available, and I can still burn that to a CDR and/or save the stuff on a portable hard drive. Now we have “cloud” based options too. A digital/downloadable option makes things cheaper for the labels, and should make things cheaper for fans. It should also make more selections available, in theory.

        JoeF makes a great point that this stuff will only have a limited shelf life, as we’re all getting older. Why the labels aren’t making an effort to get more out there now, while the window’s still open, is puzzling.

        I’d like to just have this Costello show on a basic 2 CD set. I’d like to hear some of the live Floyd stuff being released with the new reissues, but I’m not repurchasing all of their albums just to get this stuff.

        Bill makes a good point too… “Limited editions” just means that these things will get snatched up be people looking to cash in on eBay.


        October 27, 2011 at 16:28

  4. Let’s not forget we’re talking about Hip-O… They’ve set the standard for hyperpriced, overblown-O crap-O reissues!! :-)))

    I subscribe everything Bob and Shaun said: was it too difficult to just release the two entire shows on two CDs, or have a digital download available, and price it – let’s say – an exceedingly high $50?? (I would have preordered it without thinking twice).

    I wonder – are these limited, superdeluxe, memorabilia-crammed editions really paying back? Are people really buying this? Are Hip-O & C. aware of the economics?… seems like they’re living in a different world… :-/


    October 27, 2011 at 13:10

    • I’d like to see the sales figures, too – LOL!! Also, keep in mind that
      if you DON’T get these sets (for whatever reason), sooner or later a
      few copies will be floating around on Amazon or EBay for even MORE
      $$$$ that one didn’t want (or wasn’t able) to spend the first time around!!

      Go figure.

      Bill Janowski

      October 27, 2011 at 14:55

    • This set is expensive and probably not worth it. However, all of the products I have purchased from Hip-O-Select have been outstanding and worth every penny.


      October 27, 2011 at 23:03

  5. My point is this. The U2 Box, the Pink Floyd Box, the Quadrophenia Box, The Smile Box, etc. – those are pricey sets but worth the money. I’m happy to pay $100 for 8 or 10 discs of material. The U2 and DSOTM sets were very expensive to create. The Elvis one, however, is a crappy product and costs twice as much as almost anything out there. It’s not a well thought out product that fans would like to have, it’s an ill conceived stunt. EC puts on his best best live shows in years and released for his fans – an overpriced book. EC proves again that he is clueless about what his fans want.


    October 27, 2011 at 17:10

    • I agree with Bob. $100 is a lot of money, but if you get good value, it’s fair. Springsteen’s Darkness box set is a good example of that-3 cd’s, 3 dvd’s- including a complete show- and great packaging. Some Girls and this Elvis box are good examples of the opposite. I blame Dylan for this. I love his music, but in this he’s also a trailblazer. His bootleg series from a few years ago where the 2-cd set was 20 bucks, and the gussied up 3-cd set was like 100 more was the canary in the coal mine for these pricey sets. Wait until Zeppelin get’s in on the act. You know there’s probably gentleman’s agreement among the artists about this so as not to overwhelm the market. I predict this time next year we’ll be saying , “$300 for Physical Grafitti? No censored way!”


      October 27, 2011 at 17:33

    • Exactly. But I’m not entirely sure it’s all EC’s fault here. Unfortunately, his catalogue is presently in the hands of Universal, and in particular Hip-O.
      At Hip-O and, to a lesser degree, at Rhino Handmade (which is Hip-O’s equivalent at Warner’s), they’re not really as interested in music as they pretend to be.
      They’re mostly interested in targeting a small niche of gullible collectors, such as myself I hasten to add, and milk the most out of them. Hence the increasingly fancy and more and more elaborate packaging (edition limited goes without saying). Problem is, once you decide to promote the package rather than the music, you have to continuously overdo yourself, till you reach a point of no return, such as this one.
      Meaning, that even a devoted EC-fan like myself (whom would be EASILY milked, and as you point out, would EASILY pay $$$ for a few unissued CDs) is going to pass on a package like *this* one.


      October 27, 2011 at 18:00

  6. Yeah, the Dylan one was overpriced, but still was only a $100. Three Great CDs and a nice book. The EC thing sucks on two levels. Musically it sucks – only part of a show – AND a giant price tag. If the hypothetical Physical Graffiti thing is 6 CDs and 4 DVDs, and has a giant book and more stuff, it still won’t be $300.

    The closest thing to compare to the EC thing is the Prince London O2 Arena Book/CD that came out a few years ago. A big book and a single live CD. Not anyone’s fist choice for a live concert release. But that was only $50.

    Anyway you slice it. The EC set is a giant egg. A big price tag does not a great product make.


    October 27, 2011 at 18:10

  7. I think I would blame the recent trend of bloated box sets firmly at the door of Hip-O/rhino/whatever they call themselves to start with, their Monkees sets started a worrying trend. They started as great little 2cd deluxe editions, and then progressed and morphed into huge whooping box sets (headquarters sessions/Head) where us fans are being priced out of the market.

    Then came Dylan, Bowie’s bloated S2S set, Layla box set, Springsteen,Nirvana soon we have U2, Beach Boys, The Who,the new Thin Lizzy 7 disk, Floyd.

    I agree with the above that soon they will be prepping The Doors, and probably Zeppelin. They have all this stuff in the vault and you know just open it up and release it normally, not create some super duper over priced box set (that includes the music, a book, glasses, badges, posters and a roll of toilet paper to cry yourself into – thinking why did I just shell out over $300 for this)

    We are all getting older, the artist fan bases are disappearing (esp in todays throw away society of new artists and there downloadable stuff) us old dinosaurs really want to listen to the vault stuff before we shuffle off the buffalo.

    Nevertheless I would happily pay for a nice Prince catalogue overhaul (which I’m unlikely to see ever. Full stop, which is a shame really)

    Stop fannying around with these sets as they are beginning to alienate the fanbase, and just release the music,sadly the fanbase will look elsewhere to get the music (internet search and download).


    October 28, 2011 at 03:11

  8. I just ordered the COMPLETE run of 1,500 numbered copies. I got it for only $250,000.

    I have not yet decided how I will turn this to my advantage. I may put them in the deep nuclear safe storage at Iron Mountain for as many years as it takes for consumer demand to reach a frenzy, then leak them out one at a time on eBay. My other big idea is to destroy all copies but one. Then that will become the rarest, most desirable recording on the planet. I should be able to auction that off for a few million.

    My wife is telling me to turn this around fast, and just grab a quick profit. I heard that Elvis was really pissed about my coup, so I may just offer him the whole lot back at $300,000 and take a holiday.


    October 28, 2011 at 08:17

    • Bravo – or just burn the lot


      October 28, 2011 at 10:16

  9. That’s a very good deal you made, Kevin!! Good for you!! I wish I had thought of it myself…
    And a good investment too!
    The only unknown factor I possibly see, is that in a few years the CDs and DVDs will be completely obsolete so Hip-O might hit back with a BluRay counter-reissue of the same exact package, but this time they’ll add a scarf, a sticker, a pair of slippers, a 1977 Stiff Tour ticket, the exact replica of ’70s Costello frames, and a few leftover coasters that Pink Floyd didn’t use.
    So, good luck with your auctions, let me know when they’re up for bid!


    October 28, 2011 at 10:29

    • Funny, but speaking of Floyd,that Discovery box set makes no sense. Best Buy had all the individual titles priced at around 10 bucks the first few weeks, so if you bought all the Floyd albums seperately, it would have cost you about a buck-fifty. The same store had the Discovery box selling at $249. A hundred bucks for what? A box and a book? Also, remember when Costello’s great early albums were remastered and reissued the first time back in the 90’s? You got the original album and a whole host of b-sided, alternates, and demos ON ONE DISC! Now, Universal has been (slowly) reissue-ing those albums again and the few b-sides are spread thin across the second disc, and it costs twice as much.The companies are screwing the last loyal fans.


      October 28, 2011 at 13:23

  10. I came to terms with Elvis. He offered me $250,001 plus a signed press photo. Against my better judgement, I followed my wife’s advice and took it. I just went down to the coffee shop and bought a cup of coffee with my earnings, but I came up 79 cents short.

    Nobody ever called me smart.


    October 28, 2011 at 12:40

  11. Mmm… I’m afraid you could have played your cards better…
    It’s always the wife’s fault.
    I hope at least you managed to lift a couple of coasters on your way out of the bar…


    October 28, 2011 at 14:48

    • As long as they were Pink Floyd coasters


      October 29, 2011 at 08:39

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