The Juliet Letters [Expanded]

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Looking back on it, it's remarkable that Warner didn't sue Elvis Costello for making deliberately noncommercial, non-representative records, the way Geffen did with Neil Young in the '80s. After all, it's not just that he made a record as anti-pop as Mighty Like a Rose, it's that he followed it with a full-fledged classical album, The Juliet Letters -- "a song sequence for string quartet and voice," recorded with the Brodsky Quartet. It's inspired by a Verona professor who responded to letters addressed to Juliet, of Romeo and Juliet fame, too. Given this history, it's little wonder that the record didn't storm the charts, but it is remarkable that Warner, even ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Looking back on it, it's remarkable that Warner didn't sue Elvis Costello for making deliberately noncommercial, non-representative records, the way Geffen did with Neil Young in the '80s. After all, it's not just that he made a record as anti-pop as Mighty Like a Rose, it's that he followed it with a full-fledged classical album, The Juliet Letters -- "a song sequence for string quartet and voice," recorded with the Brodsky Quartet. It's inspired by a Verona professor who responded to letters addressed to Juliet, of Romeo and Juliet fame, too. Given this history, it's little wonder that the record didn't storm the charts, but it is remarkable that Warner, even with their reputation for being an artist's label, decided to release it, since this just doesn't fit anywhere -- not within pop especially in the grunge-saturated 1993 and not within classical, either. Of course, that's precisely what's interesting about the record, and if interesting didn't signify any rewards with Mighty, it does here. This is a distinctive, unusual affair that, at its best, effectively marries chamber music with Beatlesque art pop. And there are a number of moments that work remarkably well on the record, such as "I Almost Had a Weakness" and "Jacksons, Monk and Rowe." True, these are the songs closest to straight-ahead Costello songs, yet they're still nice, small gems, and even if the rest of the record can be a little arch and awkward, it's not hard to admire what Costello and the Brodskys set out to do. And that's the problem with the record -- it's easy to intellectualize, even appreciate, what it intends to be, but it's never compelling enough to return to. More experiment than effective, then. [The Juliet Letters was the last of Elvis Costello's albums from 1977 to 1996 to receive an expanded double-disc treatment in Rhino's extended reissue campaign, finally appearing on its own in March 2006. Given the unusual collaborative nature of the project, there wasn't as much unreleased music and rarities as there were for other Costello albums, so this second disc winds up as a clearing-house for highlights from Costello's art projects of the '90s. Eight of the 18 tracks date from the Meltdown Festival Elvis curated in 1995; two of these -- "Gigi" and "Deep Dead Blue" -- were originally issued as part of Deep Dead Blue, his EP with guitarist Bill Frisell, and there is one other song from that set, "Upon a Veil of Midnight Blue." In addition to these songs from Meltdown, there are the three non-LP songs from the 1993 promotional EP Live at New York Town Hall: Jerome Kern's "They Didn't Believe Me," Tom Waits' "More Than Rain," and Brian Wilson's "God Only Knows." Also included is "She Moved Through the Fair," a Costello-sung traditional folk tune that appeared on the Brodsky Quartet's 1994 album Lament, and another Costello/Brodsky collaboration on "Lost in the Stars," plucked from the 1997 tribute album September Songs: The Music of Kurt Weill, plus three parts of "Fire Suite" that were recorded with the Jazz Passengers and released originally on Roy Nathanson's 2000 LP Fire at Keaton's Bar & Grill. Considering the variety of sources, spanning the better part of the decade, it's not a big surprise that this disc isn't particularly cohesive -- particularly in comparison to its parent disc -- but there's a good batch of interesting music here. Not always good -- the version of "God Only Knows" is awkward, for instance -- but even the stumbles are worthwhile listening for those who appreciate The Juliet Letters, and the best of this, like "Fire Suite," is quietly sublime.]
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/21/2006
  • Label: Rhino
  • UPC: 081227336325
  • Catalog Number: 73363

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Deliver us - Elvis Costello (0:49)
  2. 2 For Other Eyes - Elvis Costello (2:55)
  3. 3 Swine - Elvis Costello (2:09)
  4. 4 Expert Rites - Elvis Costello (2:22)
  5. 5 Dead Letter - Elvis Costello (2:19)
  6. 6 I Almost Had A Weakness - Elvis Costello (3:53)
  7. 7 Why? - Elvis Costello (1:25)
  8. 8 Who Do You Think You Are? - Elvis Costello (3:27)
  9. 9 Taking My Life in Your Hands - Elvis Costello (3:19)
  10. 10 This Offer is Unrepeatable - Elvis Costello (3:12)
  11. 11 Dear Sweet Filthy World - Elvis Costello (4:17)
  12. 12 The Letter Home - Elvis Costello (3:10)
  13. 13 Jacksons, Monk and Rowe - Elvis Costello (3:42)
  14. 14 This Sad Burlesque - Elvis Costello (2:47)
  15. 15 Romeo's Seance - Elvis Costello (3:32)
  16. 16 I Thought I'd Write to Juliet - Elvis Costello (4:06)
  17. 17 Last Post - Elvis Costello (2:24)
  18. 18 The First to Leave - Elvis Costello (5:00)
  19. 19 Damnation's Cellar - Elvis Costello (3:25)
  20. 20 The Birds Will Still Be Singing - Elvis Costello (4:27)
Disc 2
  1. 1 She Moved through the Fair, folk song - Elvis Costello (4:46)
  2. 2 Pills and Soap, song - Elvis Costello (4:37)
  3. 3 King of the Unknown Sea, song - Elvis Costello (3:51)
  4. 4 Skeleton, song - Elvis Costello (4:54)
  5. 5 More Than Rain, song - Elvis Costello (3:25)
  6. 6 God Only Knows - Elvis Costello (4:00)
  7. 7 They Didn't Believe Me, song (from the musical play by S. Jones "The Gi - Elvis Costello (4:01)
  8. 8 O Mistress Mine - John Harle (4:03)
  9. 9 Come Away, Death, song - John Harle (4:30)
  10. 10 Put Away Forbidden Playthings, song for voice & viol consort (4:12)
  11. 11 Can she excuse my wrongs, for 4 voices & lute (First Book of Songs) - Composers Ensemble (4:05)
  12. 12 Fire Suite 1 - Roy Nathanson (5:29)
  13. 13 Fire Suite 3 - Roy Nathanson (3:19)
  14. 14 Fire Suite Reprise - Roy Nathanson (2:39)
  15. 15 Gigi, song (from "Gigi ") - Bill Frisell (4:14)
  16. 16 Deep Dead Blue, song - Bill Frisell (3:45)
  17. 17 Upon A Veil of Midnight Blue, song (4:36)
  18. 18 Lost in the Stars, song for voice & piano (from "Lost in the Stars") [* - Elvis Costello (3:56)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Elvis Costello Primary Artist, Vocals
The Brodsky Quartet Primary Artist, String Quartet
Marc Ribot Guitar
Ned Rothenberg Alto Saxophone
Bill Ware Vibes
Roy Babbington Double Bass
Ian Belton Violin
Paul Cassidy Viola
Cyrus Chestnut Piano
Mitch Dalton Guitar
Bill Frisell Guitar
Erik Friedlander Cello
Sam Furnace Baritone Saxophone
Steve Lodder Organ, Keyboards
Roy Nathanson Alto Saxophone
Ben Perowsky Drums
E.J. Rodriguez Conga, Drums
Jay Rodriguez Tenor Saxophone
Michael E. Thomas Violin
Mitchell Dalton Guitar
John Harle Keyboards, Saxophone
John Harle Band Band
Punishing Kiss Band Band
Brad Jones Bass
Technical Credits
John Dowland Lyricist
Elvis Costello Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Liner Notes
Tom Waits Lyricist
Jerome Kern Composer
Greg Allen Art Direction
Bob Appel Producer
Ian Belton Composer, Lyricist
The Brodsky Quartet Composer, Producer
Paul Cassidy Arranger, Composer, Lyricist
Bill Frisell Arranger, Composer
Kevin Killen Producer, Engineer, Engineering
Alan Jay Lerner Lyricist
Eric Lijestrand Engineer
Roger Moutenot Engineer
Roy Nathanson Composer
Mike Ross-Trevor Engineer
Andrew Sandoval Reissue Producer
Jacqueline Thomas Lyricist
Hal Willner Producer
Eric Liljestrand Engineer
Steve Averill Art Direction
Ciaran Byrne Vocal Engineer
Paul Bateman Producer
William Shakespeare Text
Michael Thomas Composer
Traditional Composer
Val Jennings Reissue Producer
Ginger Dettman Project Accounting
David Ponak Licensing
Neil Hutchinson Engineer
Michael E. Thomas Arranger, Lyricist
Gary Stewart Reissue Producer
Anderson Lyricist
John Harle Producer
Daniel Hersch Remastering
Marina P. Thomas Lyricist
Michael Thomas Lyricist
Reynolds Lyricist
Jacqueline Thomas Composer
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