The Second Disc

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Elvis Costello is Stealing Our Job (UPDATED 2/17)

with 13 comments

UPDATE 2/17: Hey, remember this whole uproar? The CD, DVD and CD/DVD editions of this pseudo-nightmarish box can now be pre-ordered on their own, with a release date of April 3.

Original post (11/29/2011): Man, Elvis Costello is a pretty awesome guy. He’s had a pretty good handle on his own already-solid back catalogue, giving it a good solid two run-throughs (unfortunately, two out of three, which still ain’t bad, as they say). His revival of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook Tour, to be chronicled in a new super-deluxe box set and CD/DVD package, was a welcome surprise that mixed some nostalgia with up-to-date live fun. And then there’s that above video, which doesn’t fail to put a smile on my face.

But not everyone smiles for Mr. Costello! Our dear readers were rightfully upset at the crazy-even-for-a-super-deluxe-box $200+ price point, which included CDs, DVDs, books, vinyl, posters and other usual trinkets. But who would listen, other than us? Well, it turns out Elvis himself was!

In a typically sardonic announcement on his website, he not only urged that fans hold off on buying the mega box (indicating, as had been reported, that its contents would be available separately in 2012), but suggested that fans instead spend their hard-earned money on Universal U.K.’s “vastly superior” Louis Armstrong box set.

While we’re happy that Elvis is cognizant of how much these deluxe boxes put on fans’ wallets, we hope he keeps the reissue reporting to a minimum. After all, I couldn’t write or play “Accidents Will Happen” competently. (I won’t dare speak for Joe, though!)

Read the full text of the statement after the jump!

“Let’s make things sparkling clear”

We at find ourselves unable to recommend “The Return Of The Spectacular Spinning Songbook” as the price appears to be either a misprint or a satire.

All our attempts to have this number revised have been fruitless so we are taking the following unusual step.

If you want to buy something special for your loved one at this time of seasonal giving, we suggest, “Ambassador Of Jazz” – a cute little imitation suitcase containing ten re-mastered albums by one of the most beautiful and loving revolutionaries who ever lived – Louis Armstrong.

The box should be available for under one hundred and fifty American dollars and includes a number of other tricks and treats.

Frankly the music is vastly superior.

If you should still want the component items in the above mentioned elaborate hoax, they will be available separately at a more affordable price in the New Year, unless you are one of those pirates who imagines they are evangelists or that other people’s rights absolve their own thievery, in which case this is between you and your dim conscience.

Tickets are currently on-sale for the Spectacular Spinning Songbook appearances in the U.S., U.K. and Europe during April, May and June of Spring of 2012. More dates will be announced in the very near future.

Written by Mike Duquette

February 17, 2012 at 11:50

13 Responses

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  1. It almost seems he’s trying to have it both ways here. He signs 1500 cards to be included in the sets and then suggests that the set is not worth purchasing. I guess it shows how little control he has over his own catalogue if Universal can force(?) him to autograph these cards and then charge what he (and everyone else) knows is a ridiculous price.


    November 29, 2011 at 11:29

  2. Your link goes to the Armstrong Storyville label box (a narrow range of live shows) and not the EMI career overview 10 CD box.

    If every artist said “Buy Satchmo, not me” it would indeed be a “Wonderful World”!


    November 29, 2011 at 12:02

  3. How does Universal even come up with a price point for these items? The recent U2 super deluxe Achtung Baby set was around $130 with 10 discs and a hardback book. The Nirvana Nevermind set was the same price but only had HALF the number of discs. The Costello set is priced at over $200, and all of these sets are a bargain compared to the horribly priced Sting 3CD+1DVD set. All of these items come from Universal, and yet the prices are all over the map. I assumed the artists had some sort of say in how they are priced, but I guess that’s not true in Costello’s case, at least.


    November 29, 2011 at 12:10

  4. I would guess that it’s the limited number of copies available that has caused this perceived pricing descrepancy. The record company decides they need to make X dollars on a project. If they print 100,000 copies of U2’s “Achtung Baby” vs 1500 copies of Elvis’ “Spinning Songbook” what do they need to make that X dollars on both products? They are basically charging you for the exclusivity, not the actual material in the set.

    Remember, the record company isn’t doing this to make the fans happy or as a reward to loyal fans, they are doing this to make a profit.

    Bill B

    November 29, 2011 at 13:11

  5. Now I think I’m REALLY pissed off… Not only he dismisses his own release (are my eyes tricking me or he called it ‘an elaborate hoax’!?!?… those who have bought it will be really pleased to know that), of course after he personally signed each copy…
    But he’s also paternalistic enough to have a say about what we should listen INSTEAD… like after a lifetime listening to music I need Mr Costello pointing me at Louis Armstrong…

    And what if, instead of the Armstrong box, I feel like buying a few CTI 40th anniversary remasters?
    Should I check with Mr. Costello if he’s alright with that?
    After all, it’s *his* money I’m *not spending* in his box set…


    November 29, 2011 at 14:06

  6. Andrea, I wouldn’t go looking for paternalism where there is none intended. Costello is a record collector and is making a tongue-in-cheek, modest recommendation for something he’d rather buy.

    Sounds like you want to be offended.


    November 29, 2011 at 14:43

  7. You’re getting this wrong, I’m not offended at all… just joking. Him being a record collector makes things even better… a collector who happens to present his fans with a limited, collectible item he admittedly considers ‘a hoax’. Nice.


    November 29, 2011 at 18:45

  8. Maybe Elvis has sign those cards for other purposes: conserts, the fan club etc. Then Universal decides to include them in this box without asking EC for permission.

    This is not the first time he acts against his label when he thinks fit.

    Magnus Hägermyr

    February 16, 2012 at 20:27

  9. Andrea, I’m glad to hear that you were joking; however, Costello is not presenting his fans with this. His record company is.


    February 20, 2012 at 14:10

  10. Poor Costello, who doesn’t even have a say about what his company is releasing under his own name.


    February 21, 2012 at 04:39

  11. It’s not the released product that’s the problem, it’s the “satirical” pricetag.

    Magnus Hägermyr

    February 24, 2012 at 07:53

  12. Elvis WHO??? I agree with his recommendation, whoever he is.

    the hit man

    April 27, 2012 at 03:42

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