Friday, September 16, 2016

ABCs of My Vinyl Collection (Letter C, Part 23)

This is madness! No, not the band. That's how I have felt about my rotating collection of Elvis Costello vinyl, CDs and cassettes through the years. I mean, how many times can one buy the same records? When I was a young teen, I bought them all on vinyl. When I got my first car at 17, my girlfriend bought me his catalog on cassette. (Damn right I married her!) In 1989, in a moment of sheer insanity, I traded in the entire shebang on vinyl because I had bought them all on CD. I remember it like it was yesterday. Bob, the owner of the record shop, looked at me with concern and asked, "Are you sure you want to do this?" Hell yes I wanted to do it now that I had them all on cold inferior-sounding compact discs from Columbia... packaged without care, thought or any liner notes at all. What a fool I was. Not to worry. In a mere five years I would be trading in all of those first-generation CDs for the Ryko CD editions. This time there were a bevy of bonus tracks. The vaults had been emptied, and Costello wrote up a storm for the inside of these versions. Couldn't possibly get any better than this... until about a decade later when Rhino took a crack at it with even more bonus tracks. That's when I finally said enough is enough. Almost. I did purchase 'Get Happy!!' again. It's my favorite, and I just couldn't resist.

All these years later, even though I buy vinyl with regularity, I haven't gone back to get those old Costello records on the superior format. I see them in the used bins for attractive prices all of the time, but I just can't bring myself to do it. There is just too much out there I have never bought to go back to the well yet again. So, even though I have more than 50 Costello CDs, my vinyl collection isn't all that big, and it's very very random. When I sold off his vinyl catalog in 1989, I did keep most of the bootlegs and a smattering of singles. Today we'll listen to a few remixed and/or extended 12" singles. These are the songs that Costello didn't add to the reissues as bonus tracks. Why? I'm guessing because he probably didn't like them very much. Chances are you won't either. Not one of them is better than the original. These are merely curiosities for die-hard fans. Although you see a couple of older titles below, all of these alternate versions were mixed between 1983 and 1985. Not exactly Costello's best years. If you're that rare breed that loves the stuttering fits and starts and bells and whistles of early '80s 12" singles, go straight to "Let Them All Talk." The horns actually make for a great artifact of the era. I'll be back next time for a little more inspired work from Mr. Costello. That's a promise.

"Pump It Up" (1984 Monster Mix)
B-side to the American 12" of "The Only Flame in Town"

"Green Shirt" (Extended Mix)
Released in 1985 to coincide with 'The Best of Elvis Costello'

"Everyday I Write the Book" (Club Version)
Mixed by "Jellybean" Benitez

"Let Them All Talk" (Extended Remix)
Puffed up to a whopping six minutes and a true stab at an '80s extended remix

"I Wanna Be Loved" (Extended Smooch 'n' Runny Version)
Have to come clean. Kind of like this one. That's Green singing backing vocals


charity chic said...

More than 50 Brian?
Wow that's impressive
Levi's is one of the few artists that I have more on vinyl than I do on CD - him, Bowie and Springsteen

charity chic said...

Either predictive textbor dyslexia kicking in
Or it's anagram day!

Brian said...

Hey CC. Yes, I probably have more EC than anyone on the shelves. He was my world in the '80s and most of the '90s.

The Swede said...

I feel your pain Brian. Over the years I've purchased all or parts of the Costello, David Bowie, Clash, Bob Dylan, Marc Bolan and Miles Davis catalogues more times than I (or my bank manager) care to remember.

JC said...

First up.....that's a mightily impressive collection of material. I don't come anywhere close to having that number of CDs/albums by anyone....although I suppose if I count the singles and the 2 x box sets and compilations then I might ger close with Billy Bragg.

Secondly....kudos for such an honest appraisal of the mixes and 12" versions. Too often in the mid 80s in particular did things go badly wrong when that sort of treatment was given to great songs. It was one of the things I liked most about The Smiths - other than a contentious (but decent enough) extended mix of 'This Charming Man', they kept away from 12" versions of any of the singles.

Thirdly....I think 'Punch The Clock' is an underrated LP. I'll accept that some of the production has dated it a tad but there's some great songs on it. It's also remembering it was also his era of great anti-war/protest songs.

Fourthly....'Goodbye Cruel World' was a letdown at the time and hasn't really improved with age.

Fifthly....I really feel your pain losing the vinyl like that. I think if I hadn't the sort of extra space on this house that allowed me to store it safely then by the mid 90s I might have given it all way and gone entirely for CDs. The hype on them seem justified....

Lastly....'Turning The Town Red', the b-side to 'I Wanna Be Loved' is one of my favourite tracks from that EC era. Mainly as I associate it with this entertaining and often very funny TV series

Brian said...

Thanks for taking the time. I never had the pleasure of seeing Scully, but I have viewed the opening credits quite a few times. A program I'm certain I would have loved and a song I like as much as any Costello A-side. As far as the great vinyl sell off of '89, I do regret it. I bought many of my favorites on CD in '88 and '89 and simply traded in the vinyl versions. Seemed like a great idea at the time. Your words on Punch the Clock have a familiar ring around here. Quite a few of us in our online community are fond of it, especially me and the Swede.