Kojak Variety [Expanded]

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
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 ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
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.
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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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/3/2004
  • Label: Rhino
  • UPC: 081227648725
  • Catalog Number: 76487

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Elvis Costello Primary Artist, Acoustic Guitar, 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, 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, Guitar
Ray Fean Drums
Kevin Harris Tenor Saxophone
Phil Callery Vocals
Barney McKenna Banjo
Gregory Michael Davis II 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
Daniel Hersch Remastering
D. McCormick Composer
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