Elvis Costello retires from making albums....

Pretty self-explanatory
Adam from Oz
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Elvis Costello retires from making albums....

Postby Adam from Oz » Mon Feb 07, 2011 1:48 am

Sorry if this has already been covered, but I couldn't find a topic on it. In todays 'The Australian': http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/ar ... 6001423379

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Re: Elvis Costello retires from making albums....

Postby johnfoyle » Mon Feb 07, 2011 2:02 am

Thanks Adam - here's the text , in case it gets archived for payment access -

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/ar ... 6001423379

Elvis Costello retires from making albums, says it's 'the end of the line' for the format

* EXCLUSIVE Iain Shedden, Music writer
* From: The Australian
* February 07, 2011


ELVIS Costello has retired from making albums. The acclaimed English songwriter, due to visit Australia with his band The Imposters in April, told The Australian today that the album format had reached "the end of the line" and that his album from last year, National Ransom, would be his last.

"There are no more albums" said Costello. "That's done now. I think that we've come to the end of the line with albums. There will be new songs and new places to put them and ways to release them, but I don't have a recording contract and I'm not seeking one."

Costello's declaration is a reflection of the dramatic shift in the way people consume music in the 21st century. Sales of CD albums have slumped dramatically worldwide in the past 12 months, a decline in sales not compensated for by new digital music formats such as iTunes.

"You're swimming against the tide with the structure of things," the singer said. Costello added that he would continue to write new material, but was uncertain about how he would go about recording or releasing it.


"There are new ways to consider making your music available," he said, "but for now I have a plan to stay out of the way of that kind of thing maybe for five or 10 years or something."

Costello said that his lifestyle was a consideration in his decision to stop making albums. He is married to singer Diana Krall, with whom he has four-year-old twin boys.

"I have a lot of other responsibilities, some of them that aren't anything to do with music,
" he said. "You can't spend your entire life enjoying yourself in everything you do. You have to choose."

Aside from his recording career, Costello has become popular in recent years as a television host on his music chat show Spectacle, which screen in Australia on the ABC. However, he doesn't plan to make any more of those either. "Like recording, we could come back to the idea," he said.

The singer and songwriter has made 32 studio albums in a career that began with My Aim Is True in 1977. Among his best-known collections are Armed Forces, King of America and Blood and Chocolate. He has released material in a variety of genres, from pop to jazz, and with collaborators as diverse as Burt Bacharach and the Brodsky Quartet.

Costello has hinted before that he would stop recording (and performing), as long ago as the 1990s, but he has been prolific as a recording artist since then. He's emphatic, however, about ending his affair with albums.

"I don't feel that it (the album format) is dead," Costello said.

"It's just not what I want to do. And I made a really good one to end on."

Costello remains heavily committed to performing, however, and has shows lined up for much of this year. He begins his Australian tour, which includes appearances at the International Blues and Roots Festival in Byron Bay, NSW, on April 17.

Adam from Oz
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Re: Elvis Costello retires from making albums....

Postby Adam from Oz » Mon Feb 07, 2011 2:17 am

I read this quote out to my wife, "You can't spend your entire life enjoying yourself in everything you do. You have to choose."

We both said, so does this mean EC hates being a dad if he's giving up making albums!?

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Re: Elvis Costello retires from making albums....

Postby Neil. » Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:17 am

Yes, unfortunate choice of words, Elvis!

Okay, albums dead - but keep recording, Elv!

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Re: Elvis Costello retires from making albums....

Postby krm » Mon Feb 07, 2011 5:38 am

i would say what´s the point of producing products that noone is going to buy?

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Re: Elvis Costello retires from making albums....

Postby FAVEHOUR » Mon Feb 07, 2011 7:01 am

Adam from Oz wrote:I read this quote out to my wife, "You can't spend your entire life enjoying yourself in everything you do. You have to choose."

We both said, so does this mean EC hates being a dad if he's giving up making albums!?


I had the exact opposite reaction. I think he means he loves making records and he loves being a dad, but he plans to concentrate on the latter.

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Re: Elvis Costello retires from making albums....

Postby terryhurley » Mon Feb 07, 2011 8:25 am

FAVEHOUR wrote:
Adam from Oz wrote:I read this quote out to my wife, "You can't spend your entire life enjoying yourself in everything you do. You have to choose."

We both said, so does this mean EC hates being a dad if he's giving up making albums!?


I had the exact opposite reaction. I think he means he loves making records and he loves being a dad, but he plans to concentrate on the latter.

.
I read it as FAVEHOUR read it.
.

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Re: Elvis Costello retires from making albums....

Postby johnfoyle » Mon Feb 07, 2011 8:33 am

Ditto.

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Re: Elvis Costello retires from making albums....

Postby jardine » Mon Feb 07, 2011 8:40 am

When n.r. (which i'm glad to hear him say he knows is "a good one") became available on the website, i had a downloaded copy five minutes after purchasing it.

now look, i'm old, and i still have the old fetish of having an object in my hands, which e.c. has talked quite a bit about lately. so when i downloaded n.r. or ransack officially, with the full megabytiness, it still didn't seem like i really "had" this disk, these songs, etc.

HOWEVER, one of the only independent "record stores" in Calgary closed years ago. something is, sadly or not, over for most of us. all the intimacy in the studio that tbone set up, all those musicians in a circle...this, i pray, stays. but the editing and printing of booklets, the making of plastic disks and cases and then, of course, the SHIPPING in particular is starting to remind me of being able to eat blueberries this week at minus 20 degrees and three feet of snow, from chile. blueberries covered in gasoline.

perhaps, as many have said on this board, perhaps the day of making and shipping beautiful objects around the country is over and needs to be over. the real "object" is the recordings themselves which can be "shipped" in seconds.

Now, again. part of me really doesn't believe this or feel this deeply, but deep feeling in this case might be a block, not an opening.

e.c. can, if he wants to, record a song one day with someone who dropped in on Vancouver Island and release it for a wee cost minutes later. or he can go to a memphis or london studio for two days and gather some sounds together and release it without hesitation.

I think the real lament in this piece is the same one i feel a bit, that the days of discovery have changed, the days of objects made by artists, replicated by record companies and shipped, whose sales figures are monitored and so on...is nearly over.

There are countless ways to avoid many of the troubles--contract included--that e.c. talks about. avoiding the accompanying sadness is more difficult...

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Re: Elvis Costello retires from making albums....

Postby jardine » Mon Feb 07, 2011 8:46 am

he sometimes has a bit of a mouth almighty, but i think, too, that it is a matter of having many things he loves to do but not having the time or energy to do all of them, and is choosing to do something other than running around after a lost cause double l.p.

it is VERY BADLY WORDED or badly quoted, however...

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Re: Elvis Costello retires from making albums....

Postby Emotional Toothpaste » Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:31 am

This is just Elvis pouting. We've heard it before.

He is such a fan of the album format . . . and a purist at that . . . right down to pressing them on VINYL. Are we really supposed to believe that NR was his last album? I would be shocked if he goes more than 18 months without making another album. Its what he does. He'll get over the sour business aspect of it and after a brief period of pouting he'll be right back in the studio putting tracks together the way a novelist writes chapters. Elvis will never be one to write Readers Digest condensed stories. He's a novelist.

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Re: Elvis Costello retires from making albums....

Postby cwr » Mon Feb 07, 2011 11:55 am

I've spent almost 15 years lamenting Costello's stubborn refusal to take full advantage of the Internet. I long ago gave hope that it was ever going to happen ("but then again, it might" to quote The Invisible Man...)

I can't fault him for the colossal commercial failure of National Ransom. He gave it his all, making a terrific record and promoting the hell out of it, only to discover that the success of the previous album seems to have been entirely based on its being sold at Starbucks.

Now he's trotting out the Spinning Songbook again, which should be great fun, but let's face it-- it's only a reprise of an innovative idea he had 25 years ago, and at that time it was only the flashiest part of a much, much bigger spectacle-- touring with BOTH the Confederates and the Attractions and throwing solo shows into the mix. So, as much fun as it will be to see The Imposters playing with The Big Wheel, this is probably as close to a nostalgia tour as Costello is likely to get, right? (Not saying that's a bad thing-- I'm as nostalgic as the next guy, and probably more so...)

But it is sad, sad, sad, to read him say that he has a "plan" in place that involves not making recordings of songs for the next five or ten years. Granted, he's made enough records for a lifetime-- there is no shortage of Elvis Costello records in the world-- but in an age when anyone with a home computer and a decent microphone can put out a recording for the whole world to hear in as long as it takes to play and upload it, it seems like a shame for a man of means like Elvis Costello to not take a crack at doing it a different way.

The truth is, as innovative and imaginative as Costello is as a musician, there is a part of him that, since the emergence of the Internet, has remained "stuck in his ways." He is a creature of The Recording Industry, as much as he loathes it. He thinks of his recording career in terms of recording contracts with big corporations, and that's just how it is with him. Not seeking out a new record contract equals no more records. It's pretty startling that in all this time, he has never once written and recorded a song and just rush-released it to the Internet. Not even for charity, as you could imagine he might have at various points, when he's written songs relating to things like Katrina or appeared to perform for other causes at various benefit concerts. He just seems to have an aversion to the idea that you can release a recording that way.

Oh well. It's disappointing, but I get it. He just is the way he is, and I can't blame him for not wanting to record and release another album the old-fashioned way after the dismal reception that National Ransom received. (Mixed reviews and poor sales for an album that would have been on every critic's top 10 list if he was SICK or something. Instead, he's just a fucking genius singer/songwriter who keeps making great records. HO FUCKING HUM, say the critics, all of whom would be calling NR the album of the year if he had died the week before it came out, or if NR had been released by someone who had been making crap records for ten or twenty years, or if it was a NEW artist on the scene. One of the things that gets me angriest is how many music writers seem utterly disinterested in Costello at this point because it's boring to them that he keeps writing good songs and making good records, while giving more praise and attention to the "surprise" of lesser artists doing something that's just halfway decent...)

My only wish at this point is that he will find a way to record and release the handful of songs like BURNT SUGAR IS SO BITTER that really should be heard in some proper form. It would be a real waste for that song to only exist in bootleg live recordings...

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Re: Elvis Costello retires from making albums....

Postby bronxapostle » Mon Feb 07, 2011 1:11 pm

don't believe him. by April 2012 we will be holding ANOTHER LP in our hands. fear not!!!!!!

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Re: Elvis Costello retires from making albums....

Postby verbal gymnastics » Mon Feb 07, 2011 1:57 pm

I agree.

He has phases but the lure of working is too much for him. He has too much to say.

It wouldn't surprise me to see his next project as an album with the Imposters followed by an album with a different set of musicians altogether. This year.
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Re: Elvis Costello retires from making albums....

Postby alexv » Mon Feb 07, 2011 2:23 pm


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Re: Elvis Costello retires from making albums....

Postby wordnat » Mon Feb 07, 2011 2:54 pm

Methinks this is Elvis in Drama Queen mode once again. He's just mad that NR didn't sell -- can't say I blame him.... :|

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Re: Elvis Costello retires from making albums....

Postby jardine » Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:37 pm

funny how his anger and drama sometimes leads him to act as if he is helpless...

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Re: Elvis Costello retires from making albums....

Postby wardo68 » Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:46 pm

Yes, this isn't really anything new. He's pissed off that his new album didn't sell like hotcakes (except to everyone on this board who either ordered it directly via his website or snatched it up in the first record store they could find) and he says the industry can't support him. Just like it didn't in 1986, and 1993, and 1996, and every time he's blamed poor sales on whatever label he's been on.

However, I think his longest stretch between releases was 1998 to 2002 (I don't count For The Stars as an EC album). But nowhere in there did he ever announce he wasn't making albums; he simply didn't record any, likely because he didn't have songs he felt like recording. But as we've seen lately, once he gets rolling he stays busy for a while. Momofuku, SP&S and National Ransom all came (for the most part) out of productive writing spells, so if he has a batch of songs he's proud of, I'm sure he will record them. And maybe, finally, he'll get a subliminal hint from the likes of me and cwr, who have been insisting for years that the Internet will be a financial boon to him if he only learned to use it. But then he'll probably give the credit for the idea to somebody more famous than we.

Yet it's interesting that these quotes are coming out just after he's announced the return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook, which wasn't exactly a financial boon for him either.

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Re: Elvis Costello retires from making albums....

Postby Jack of All Parades » Mon Feb 07, 2011 5:47 pm

Excellent point, Wardo, about the profitability of the previous "Wheel" incarnation.

Thank you for sharing the piece about Teddy- Alex. Quite the point that if this guy, with his talent, can only muster sales of physical product in the low 20 thousands per album, imagine how large EC's are in comparison and he complains he cannot make it work. That has to make someone like Teddy, or Marshall Crenshaw, or Graham Parker or Ron Sexsmith feel real good about their futures as recording artists.

There is a nice irony in his stay at home statement- EC as house dad looking after the twins- remind you of anyone? I do not for a minute believe if given the chance he would not want to be out on the road playing "Pop star"- been the ambition all along. That poorly worded choice comes off as since I cannot be the "Pop star" I will do my duty and stay home with the kids. I know I would!
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Re: Elvis Costello retires from making albums....

Postby wordnat » Mon Feb 07, 2011 11:10 pm

I think EC should take a page from Dylan's playbook and just stop fucking caring about an album's critical or popular reception. It's obvious that Dylan, whether he's putting out masterful things like "Love & Theft" or complete nonsense like "Christmas in the Heart", just couldn't care less what folks think of his work. He's obviously very comfortable with his legacy -- too bad EC seems anything but....

It's a cool pose, if nothing else! 8)

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Re: Elvis Costello retires from making albums....

Postby Poor Deportee » Mon Feb 07, 2011 11:29 pm

wordnat wrote:I think EC should take a page from Dylan's playbook and just stop fucking caring about an album's critical or popular reception. It's obvious that Dylan, whether he's putting out masterful things like "Love & Theft" or complete nonsense like "Christmas in the Heart", just couldn't care less what folks think of his work. He's obviously very comfortable with his legacy -- too bad EC seems anything but....

It's a cool pose, if nothing else! 8)


Well, if you read between the lines in interviews with Dylan (and his admittedly inscrutable, albeit delicious, memoirs) it's pretty clear that he did care quite a bit about the reception of his work when he was in the critical and commercial trough of his career (from about 1982 to 1997). But as a rule, you're absolutely right, Dylan is exemplary in his projection of complete disinterest about what anyone thinks. EC's attitude is ridiculous, and while I won't bore anyone with a repetition of my previous thoughts to this effect, it comes down to this: if you've written great songs, you probably want people to hear them. As long as you are financially solvent - and between royalties and touring, projects like Spectacle, his two million-dollars condos and Lord knows what else, EC surely is financially solvent - who really gives a rip how much an album sells or what pin-headed critics say? But no, he has to punish (or threaten to punish) an ungrateful world by depriving his fans of great music. Way to go, EC :roll: What do you expect from a guy who cited critical panning of North as a justification for leaving England. :lol:
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Re: Elvis Costello retires from making albums....

Postby thepopeofpop » Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:17 am

wardo68 wrote:However, I think his longest stretch between releases was 1998 to 2002 (I don't count For The Stars as an EC album). But nowhere in there did he ever announce he wasn't making albums; he simply didn't record any, likely because he didn't have songs he felt like recording.


It wasn't Elvis' decision to not record an album between 1998 and 2002 - it was the record company who made that choice. Elvis signed some kind of dream contract with Polygram which allowed him to make any kind of record he wanted - and then Polygram was almost immediately bought out by the Seagram Group, who had no intention of honoring the terms of Elvis' contract. They wouldn't pay for Elvis to record a pop/rock album, and there was no point Elvis' paying for it, because it would not be released anyway.

Here's the article about the takeover of Polygram:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/busin ... 58030.html

When an artist signs a record contract and then doesn't release any material for a long period of time you can always assume that it is the record companies' decision (unless the artist is terminally ill or something like that).
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Re: Elvis Costello retires from making albums....

Postby wardo68 » Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:39 am

thepopeofpop wrote:When an artist signs a record contract and then doesn't release any material for a long period of time you can always assume that it is the record companies' decision (unless the artist is terminally ill or something like that).


Good point, Pope, and a perspective I didn't consider. However, have we heard Elvis saying "Seagram bought my label and wouldn't let me record for four years?" And of the albums they did "let" him record, it was For The Stars? Once he did ramp it up again, his albums did show up on different Universal/Polygram imprints, so the 1998 terms must have been resolved. I insist that if he was kept from recording during that period, he'd've bitched about it by now.

I do like wordnat's comparison to Dylan, how he records when he wants and the public can take it for what it is or not. That said, Dylan's also been on the same label for a long time, and that label knows they can always rely on catalog sales. They'll take a chance on whatever he puts out knowing they'll make it up somewhere else.

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Re: Elvis Costello retires from making albums....

Postby Jeremy Dylan » Tue Feb 08, 2011 4:52 am

wordnat wrote:It's obvious that Dylan, whether he's putting out masterful things like "Love & Theft" or complete nonsense like "Christmas in the Heart", just couldn't care less what folks think of his work. He's obviously very comfortable with his legacy -- too bad EC seems anything but....

It's a cool pose, if nothing else! 8)

I couldn't disagree more with that. I think Dylan's entire career has been a reaction to public perception of him and his work. A skinny Jewish kid named Rob Zimmerman from Hibbing, Minnesota, reinvents himself as a New York folk singer with a balderdash biography about him being a kid who ran away to join the circus. From then on, any time he feels the public at large is starting to develop some sense of who 'Bob Dylan' is, he does a 180 on then. From protest singer to psychedelic folk artist to electric blues artist to country singer to Born again Christian to his modern incarnation as the contemporary successor to his blues heroes. Every so often he'll do something like the Victoria's Secret commercial or a Christmas record to remind people they really don't know what he's going to do next.
Dylan can get away with it and never have to explain himself, because the mystique has always been a part of what made Dylan Dylan. EC's never built his image on being an unknowable mysterious genius.

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Re: Elvis Costello retires from making albums....

Postby thepopeofpop » Tue Feb 08, 2011 7:05 am

wardo68 wrote:
thepopeofpop wrote:When an artist signs a record contract and then doesn't release any material for a long period of time you can always assume that it is the record companies' decision (unless the artist is terminally ill or something like that).


Good point, Pope, and a perspective I didn't consider. However, have we heard Elvis saying "Seagram bought my label and wouldn't let me record for four years?"


I just spent a couple of hours writing a very long post quoting from interviews, and then somehow I got timed out and when I logged back in the whole post got lost... :roll:

Anyway to summarize, in 1999 he was planning to make a new album in the "next 6 months" according to this interview: http://www.elviscostello.info/articles/ ... 1119a.html

He was playing new songs on tour in 1999 and played "45" on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Sure sounds like he was planning a new album.

One thing that did get released in 1999 was the "Best of Elvis Costello" CD. This was heavily promoted by the record company, especially in the UK where it reached #4. No doubt this helped to pay the bills in the Costello household.

In 2000 he didn't do interviews at all, and by 2001 was promoting "For The Stars". Mid 2001 he got the go-ahead to record "When I Was Cruel". He does refer obliquely to problems with the record company in this Sunday Herald interview from 2002 (although they manage to get the name of the company - Polygram- wrong):

http://www.elviscostello.info/articles/ ... 0414a.html

"...in 1998 he negotiated a new, possibly unique, recording contract with Phonogram that allowed him to release records on a variety of labels that each fell under the broad Phonogram umbrella -- pop records on Mercury, classical releases on Universal Classics, jazz-oriented stuff on Verve. He winces slightly at mention of it now. 'The corporation has restructured since then,' he says stiffly. 'And I've actually ended up on Def Jam.' There is a pause. 'Though I kind of dig that. They've come out of the hip hop thing and for me it's like being Rare Earth on Motown.' He chuckles. The irony of having tailored a deal that allowed him to release music on a number of imprints only to end up by default on what might seem to be a ludicrously inappropriate dance label is very much in keeping with the complexity of his ever-shifting and searching muse."

There was another interview from 1999 where he mentions that he was worried that he was going to get dropped from the label altogether. That would indicate some issues: http://www.elviscostello.info/articles/ ... 0825a.html

The timeline went like this:

February 1998 - Costello signed to Polygram in a deal personally arranged by the CEO of Mercury Records, Danny Goldberg. The first album to be released under the deal is "Painted From Memory".

24 May 1998 - Seagram announced takeover of Polygram. Talk about bad timing! Naturally one of the casualties of the deal is the CEO of Mercury Records, who was the guy who wanted Costello in the first place. Although "Painted From Memory" goes ahead there is some confusion as to the status of the Costello deal as some of the labels owned by Polygram will be closed down by Seagram.

Here is the press release dated February 6, 1998: http://www.thefreelibrary.com/COSTELLO+ ... a083810221

"...Danny Goldberg, chairman and CEO of Mercury, called Costello 'a true renaissance artist. It's an unbelievable honor to anticipate working with his diverse musical visions.' "
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