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My Flame Burns Blue

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
Like a finely cut gem that reveals something different every time it's held at a new angle, Elvis Costello's latest offering is almost impossible to pin down. In part, it's a revisiting of the singer-songwriter's old catalog; in part, a foray into traditional jazz -- not merely the cabaret stylings he's dipped into in the past. Heck, there's even a head-on rush into the old-school rock 'n' roll that marked Costello's earliest outings. That last element -- contained in an all-spit, no-polish romp through Dave Bartholomew's jivey "That's How You Got Killed Before" -- is probably My Flame Burns Blue's most immediately pleasurable moment, but there's plenty of reward in ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
Like a finely cut gem that reveals something different every time it's held at a new angle, Elvis Costello's latest offering is almost impossible to pin down. In part, it's a revisiting of the singer-songwriter's old catalog; in part, a foray into traditional jazz -- not merely the cabaret stylings he's dipped into in the past. Heck, there's even a head-on rush into the old-school rock 'n' roll that marked Costello's earliest outings. That last element -- contained in an all-spit, no-polish romp through Dave Bartholomew's jivey "That's How You Got Killed Before" -- is probably My Flame Burns Blue's most immediately pleasurable moment, but there's plenty of reward in the disc's less instantaneous tracks. Take the opening "Hora Decubitus," a Charles Mingus composition that Costello uses as a template for a post-9/11 meditation on the fragility of the human condition. Tweaking the work of a legend like Mingus -- or of Billy Strayhorn, whose "Blood Count" is the basis for the disc's title track -- is a dangerous gambit, but Costello does himself proud by utilizing the proper blend of respect and confidence. Having the backing of the 52-piece Metropole Orkest a Dutch orchestra that specializes in jazz doesn't hurt, either. Their presence likewise vivifies Costello's adaptations of his own past works -- notably "Watching the Detectives," which trades the original's menacing reggae groove for a West Side Story–styled sweep, and "Clubland," molded here into a playful cha-cha. Costello completists should note the inclusion of a bonus disc comprising selections from Il Sogno, his 2004 Gershwin-tinged classical suite. Whether burning red-hot or cool blue, Elvis carries the flame in high style.
All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
My Flame Burns Blue is Elvis Costello's fourth record released on the classical label Deutsche Grammophon, and by now it should be clear that just because Elvis releases something on DG, it does not necessarily mean that the album itself is classical. That term may apply to For the Stars, his duet album with opera vocalist Anne Sofie Von Otter, as well as his orchestral piece Il Sogno which is excerpted on a bonus CD attached to this release, but it doesn't apply to 2003's song cycle North, nor does it apply to My Flame Burns Blue, which is accurately described on his official website as "his first rock 'n' jazz album!" Evidently, Costello reserves his art projects for his albums on Deutsche Grammophon, of which My Flame Burns Blue is clearly one. As he says in his thorough liner notes preparing those double-disc reissues apparently has unleashed the rock critic within, "this record may explain what I've been doing during the last twelve years when I haven't had an electric guitar in my hands...I've had the opportunity to work with a number of contrasting ensembles, from chamber group and jazz big band to symphony orchestra. Consequently, I had plenty of charts to consider for my concerts with the Metropole Orkest in the summer of 2004. The Metropole are the world's only full-time jazz orchestra with a string section." Such an ensemble is ideal for a restless musician like Costello, who is eager to write in different idioms, or rearrange his old work in new ways, which is precisely what he did at the July 2004 concert at the North Sea Jazz Festival that is now captured on My Flame Burns Blue. He completely reworks "Clubland," which is now woozy and elastic, and "Watching the Detectives," which has been turned into "the style of a 1950s television theme." He expands but doesn't alter both "Almost Blue" and "God Give Me Strength," while reviving the David Bartholome number "That's How You Got Killed Before," which has been a standard in his repertoire since the mid-'80s. This makes for roughly a third of the album, with the rest of the set list containing reinterpretations of recent original material, songs he wrote for Von Otter and blues singer Charles Brown, plus Charles Mingus and Billy Strayhorn compositions that have been given new lyrics by Costello. It's an eclectic batch, veering from torchy ballads to rambunctious, sprawling jazz reminiscent of the Mingus Big Band, but it holds together well for two reasons. First, it's all anchored by the always remarkable Steve Nieve, whose piano is simultaneously fluid, florid, and tasteful, giving this a musical throughline that holds it steady throughout its twists and turns. But My Flame Burns Blue ultimately succeeds because of Costello, who has chosen his material wisely, sequenced it sharply, and has given it an enthusiastic reading that is arguably his richest live vocal work, rivaling that on the Costello & Nieve box set. As good as this is, it is ultimately closer to a detour -- or perhaps a scenic drive -- than a major item in Costello's catalog. It's inspired and unexpected without quite being surprising, and that's because all the music here does have a natural antecedent somewhere within his catalog. What is noteworthy about My Flame Burns Blue is that Costello manages to tie all these seemingly disparate strands in his work into something that is not only cohesive, but explains an area of his work that hasn't necessarily been accurately documented on record before. But what really makes it a good record is that the performance is lively, energetic, and, yes, joyous, which means that even if this may be an art project, it's flat-out more entertaining than any album he's released since Painted from Memory.
Rolling Stone - David Fricke
1/2 When the Orkest hit the swelling climaxes of "God Give Me Strength," Costello is up there with them, singing with a force and clarity as big and regal as the music around him.

1/2 When the Orkest hit the swelling climaxes of "God Give Me Strength," Costello is up there with them, singing with a force and clarity as big and regal as the music around him.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 2/28/2006
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • UPC: 028947759614
  • Catalog Number: 000599472
  • Sales rank: 87,609

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Hora Decubitus, song - Metropole Orchestra (5:46)
  2. 2 Favourite Hour, song - Metropole Orchestra (3:58)
  3. 3 That's How You Got Killed Before, song - Metropole Orchestra (4:14)
  4. 4 Upon A Veil of Midnight Blue, song - Metropole Orchestra (5:11)
  5. 5 Clubland, song - Metropole Orchestra (4:51)
  6. 6 Almost Blue, song - Metropole Orchestra (5:51)
  7. 7 Speak Darkly, My Angel - Metropole Orchestra (3:58)
  8. 8 Almost Ideal Eyes, song - Metropole Orchestra (4:16)
  9. 9 Can You Be True?, song - Metropole Orchestra (3:56)
  10. 10 Put Away Forbidden Playthings, song for voice & viol consort - Metropole Orchestra (4:22)
  11. 11 Episode of Blonde, song - Metropole Orchestra (6:09)
  12. 12 My Flame Burns Blue, song for voice & instruments (after "Blood Count') - Metropole Orchestra (5:13)
  13. 13 Watching The Detectives, song - Metropole Orchestra (5:23)
  14. 14 God Give Me Strength, song - Metropole Orchestra (6:55)
Disc 2
  1. 1 Suite: Prelude - Metropole Orchestra (0:46)
  2. 2 Suite: Overture - Metropole Orchestra (1:18)
  3. 3 Suite: Puck 1 - Metropole Orchestra (2:20)
  4. 4 Suite: The Court - Metropole Orchestra (2:28)
  5. 5 Suite: Workers' Playtime - Metropole Orchestra (2:10)
  6. 6 Suite: Oberon and Titania - Metropole Orchestra (4:14)
  7. 7 Suite: The Conspiracy of Oberon and Puck - Metropole Orchestra (1:08)
  8. 8 Suite: Puck 2 - Metropole Orchestra (1:49)
  9. 9 Suite: The Identity Parade - Metropole Orchestra (4:42)
  10. 10 Suite: The Face of Bottom - Metropole Orchestra (2:48)
  11. 11 Suite: The Spark of Love - Metropole Orchestra (4:23)
  12. 12 Suite: Tormentress - Metropole Orchestra (1:41)
  13. 13 Suite: Oberon Humbled - Metropole Orchestra (3:40)
  14. 14 Suite: Twisted - Entangled - Metropole Orchestra (2:38)
  15. 15 Suite: The Fairy and The Ass - Metropole Orchestra (1:32)
  16. 16 Suite: Sleep - Metropole Orchestra (2:51)
  17. 17 Suite: The Play - Metropole Orchestra (1:30)
  18. 18 Suite: The Wedding - Metropole Orchestra (4:16)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Elvis Costello Primary Artist, Vocals
London Symphony Orchestra Performing Ensemble
Peter Erskine Percussion
Vince Mendoza Conductor
Bart Van Lier Trombone, Soloist
Steve Nieve Piano, Melodica, Soloist
Max Boeree Clarinet, Saxophone
Linda Dumessie Violin
Jan Elsink Trombone
Wim Grin Cello
Olaf Groesz Cello, Soloist
Henk Heijink Trumpet
Jan Hollander Trumpet
Leo Janssen Clarinet, Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Soloist
Dennis Koenders Violin
Wim Kok Violin
Eddy Koopman Percussion
Roel Koster French Horn
Chris Laurence Double Bass
Jan Oosthof Trumpet
Michael Tilson Thomas Conductor
Aimee Versloot Viola
Simone Vierstra Violin
Arlia de Ruiter Violin
Metropole Orchestra Ensemble
Ruud Breuls Trumpet, Soloist
Peter Tiehuis Guitar, Soloist
Mieke Honingh Viola
Seya Teeuwen Violin
Erica Korthals Altes Violin
Jos Beeren Clarinet, Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Soloist
Elisabeth Cats Violin
Julia Jowett Viola
Arend Liefkes Double Bass
Marc Scholten Clarinet, Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Soloist
Joke Schonewille Harp
Janine Abbas Flute
Willem Luijt Oboe
David Peijnenborgh Violin
Mariël Van Den Bos Flute
Marianne Van Den Heuvel Violin
Herman Van Haaren Violin
Erik Kromhout Violin
Murk Jiskoot Percussion
Bastiaan Van Der Werf Cello
Martijn Vink Drums
Sarah Koch Violin
Norman Jansen Viola
Ruben Margarita Violin
Iris Schut Viola
Annie Tangberg Cello
Paul van der Feen Clarinet, Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Soloist
Hans Van Der Zanden French Horn
Radoslaw Szulc Leader
John Harle Saxophone
Christopher Laurence Double Bass
Olof Groesz Cello
David Rothschild Trombone
Technical Credits
Elvis Costello Composer, Lyricist, Executive Producer, Adaptation
Vince Mendoza Adaptation
Charles Mingus Composer
Michael Philip Mossman Arranger
Burt Bacharach Composer
Dave Bartholomew Composer
Richard Harvey Adaptation
Steve Nieve Adaptation
Bill Frisell Adaptation
Colin Nairne Management
Doug Sax Mastering
Billy Strayhorn Composer
Phillip Siney Engineer
Mike Cox Engineer
Ed Fotheringham Illustrations
Robert Hadley Mastering
Sy Johnson Adaptation
Williem Friede Adaptation
Roland Heap Engineer
Mark Buecker Engineer
Darrell Gilmour Management
Sid McLauchlan Producer
Gert Jan van den Dolder Producer
Gerald Chermin Monitor Mix Engineer
Fritz Bayens Executive Producer
Steve Macklam Management
Joan Reinders Adaptation
Gert de Bruijn Engineer
Alex Dembicki Management
Sy Johnson Adaptation
Mauro Bigonzetti Choreographer
Sam Feldman Management
Gert-Jan Van Den Dolder Producer
Edwin Fotheringham Illustrations
David Levinson Management
Guglielmo Capone Costume Design
Willem Friede Adaptation
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