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Kojak Variety [Expanded]

Kojak Variety [Expanded]

by Elvis Costello

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Elvis put his pen away for this 1995 disc, a covers collection that marked the first full-fledged emergence of Costello the crooner. Not that he relegated himself to lounge standards -- the original issue found him wrapping his voice around everything from the jump blues stylings of Little Willie John's "Leave My Kitten Alone" to


Elvis put his pen away for this 1995 disc, a covers collection that marked the first full-fledged emergence of Costello the crooner. Not that he relegated himself to lounge standards -- the original issue found him wrapping his voice around everything from the jump blues stylings of Little Willie John's "Leave My Kitten Alone" to the dreamy pop of the Kinks' "Days." This reissue adds 20 bonus tracks that actually extend Costello even further, allowing him to indulge his balladeering side on a pair of Gershwin titles ("But Not for Me" being the most poignant) as well as to explore fringier aspects of his musical persona, as on a version of Tom Waits's "Innocent when You Dream." Not all the efforts pan out perfectly -- his take on Springsteen's "Brilliant Disguise" is more bluster than luster -- but Costello's batting average rivals that of the lollipop-sucking hero honored in the disc's title.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Elvis Costello recorded the 15 songs that comprised his covers album Kojak Variety in 1990, but the album sat in the vaults for five years, with some songs trickling out on soundtracks, with the entire album eventually leaking out as a bootleg prior to its release in 1995. Given this slow, steady crawl to release and the nature of bootlegs and B-sides, it's reasonable to assume from its slow unveiling that the album was a collection of covers that he recorded with different bands over different years, when quite the opposite was true -- all 15 songs were the cut with the same band, all sequestered away in Barbados. However, the bonus disc that accompanies Rhino's 2004 expanded, double-CD reissue of Kojak Variety is indeed a crazy quilt of covers, taken from different sessions recorded during the '90s. Many of these have been previously released, either as B-sides or more often as contributions to various-artists tribute albums (or, in the case of Dave Bartholomew's "That's How You Got Killed Before," Costello sang it for an album by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band). While these aren't exactly rare, it is nice to have them all collected in one place, but it's even nicer to have all of the "George Jones Tape" finally see the light of day. These ten songs -- running from track two ("My Resistance Is Low") through track 11 ("How Long Has This Been Going On") on the bonus disc -- were a collection of covers Costello cut in one day in 1992 with Pete Thomas and Paul "Bassman" Riley, all recorded with the intention of sending them to Jones for possible inclusion on a forthcoming album by the country legend. Costello first hit upon this idea during an interview with Jones for Interview magazine, and in the published piece, he said he was going to send a mixtape to the singer, but that soon morphed into these 11 covers. They're a mixed bag, sometimes bracing -- Costello's interpretation of Bruce Springsteen's "Brilliant Disguise" is tremendous and would have made a great single for George -- and sometimes bewildering (it's hard to imagine the Possum winding his way through Tom Waits' "Innocent When You Dream"), yet it's always a fascinating listen, even if it's just for hearing Elvis bungle a line on his excellent version of Bob Dylan's "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go." This tape alone makes this reissue of Kojak Variety worthwhile, and while having it surrounded by the B-sides and tribute tunes gives the bonus disc an appearance of being a patchwork collection, it's just as musically satisfying as the finished album. In fact, it could even be argued that the ramshackle vibe and freewheeling spirit on this bonus disc makes it more fun than the actual record.

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Elvis Costello   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Harmonica,Piano,Celeste,Vocals,Vibes,Guitar Feedback
Dónal Lunny   Bouzouki,Harmonium
Danny Barker   Guitar
Marc Ribot   Banjo,Guitar,Electric Guitar,Rhythm Guitar,spanish guitar,E Flat Horn
Larry Adler   Harmonica
James Burton   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
Steve Nieve   Keyboards
Jim Keltner   Drums
Roy Babbington   Bass
B.J. Cole   Pedal Steel Guitar
Gerry Cullen   Vocals
Noel Eccles   Percussion
Charles Joseph   Trombone
Kirk Joseph   Sousaphone
Larry Knechtel   Guitar,Piano,Hammond Organ,Wurlitzer,Plucked Piano
Roger Lewis   Baritone Saxophone
Jenell Marshall   Percussion,Drums
Fran McPhail   Vocals
Máirtín O'Connor   Button Accordion
Eoghan O'Neill   Bass Guitar
Paul Riley   Bass
Jerry Scheff   Bass,Piano,Electric Bass,Bass Guitar,Ampeg Baby Bass,Hammond B3
Pete Thomas   Drums,Bass Guitar
Efrem Towns   Trumpet
Trevor Barry   Bass
Steve Donnelly   Acoustic Guitar
Ray Fean   Drums
Kevin Harris   Tenor Saxophone
Phil Callery   Vocals
Barney McKenna   Banjo
Gregory Michael Davis   Trumpet

Technical Credits

Willie Dixon   Composer
Dónal Lunny   Producer
George Gershwin   Composer
Bill Anderson   Composer
Walter Hawkins   Composer
Arthur Alexander   Composer
Hoagy Carmichael   Composer
Elvis Costello   Producer,Liner Notes
Bob Dylan   Composer
Jerry Garcia   Composer
John Lennon   Composer
Little Richard   Composer
Paul McCartney   Composer
Randy Newman   Composer
Gram Parsons   Composer
Bruce Springsteen   Composer
Titus Turner   Composer
Tom Waits   Composer
Jesse Winchester   Composer
Mose Allison   Composer
Ray Noble   Composer
Robert Hunter   Composer
Burt Bacharach   Composer
Dave Bartholomew   Composer
Phil Coulter   Producer
George Martin   Producer
Deborah Allen   Composer
Ray Davies   Composer
Dan Penn   Composer
Greg Allen   Reissue Design
Scott Billington   Producer
Felice Bryant   Composer
Boudleaux Bryant   Composer
Lamont Dozier   Composer
Ira Gershwin   Composer
Glyn Johns   Producer
Screamin' Jay Hawkins   Composer
Bob Hilliard   Composer
Eddie Holland   Composer
Brian Holland   Composer
Steve Holroyd   Engineer
Bill Inglot   Producer
Kevin Killen   Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Dani McCormick   Composer
Chips Moman   Composer
Van Morrison   Composer,Producer
Andrew Sandoval   Producer
Rafe Van Hoy   Composer
Richard Penniman   Composer
Harold Adamson   Composer
James McDougal   Composer
Kay Rogers   Composer
Richard Ahlert   Composer
Drew Baker   Composer
Gary Stewart   Reissue Producer
D.K. Baker   Composer
Val Jennings   Reissue Producer
D. McCormick   Composer

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