Elvis Costello opens archives for live releases

Fri Sep 11, 2009 7:30pm EDT
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By Michael D. Ayers

NEW YORK (Billboard) - There's just no slowing down Elvis Costello.

After launching his "Spectacle" TV series in December and releasing his latest studio effort, "Secret, Profane & Sugarcane," this past June, the punk icon is set to debut "The Costello Show Series," a selection of rare live recordings from throughout his career.

First up is "Live at the El Mocambo," a heavily bootlegged concert from March 6, 1978, in Toronto. The 14-song set is due September 29 on Hip-O/Universal. It was part of the "2 1/2 Years" boxed set issued by Rykodisc in 1993 and has never been officially released as a stand-alone album.

The concert originally was broadcast on CHUM-FM and was pressed in a limited vinyl run as a promotional item. Costello was touring in support of his landmark debut, "My Aim Is True."

"Live at the El Mocambo" captures a young Costello, with a raw sound in both the quality of the recording and the material. The show features several early versions of what are now considered Costello classics, including "Pump It Up," "Watching the Detectives," and a fiery version of "(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea."

Little information is available on how many shows will be included in future releases, but the series is set to roll out concerts over the next year. A performance from June 4, 1978, at Hollywood High School in Los Angeles is slated next.

Costello has been a rather prolific renaissance man over the past 20 years, releasing a number of recordings with collaborators from various genres, among them Allen Toussaint, Bill Frisell and Burt Bacharach. "Secret, Profane & Sugarcane" continues his recent forays outside of the punk rock lexicon, pairing him with Americana legends T Bone Burnett, Emmylou Harris, Jerry Douglas and Stuart Duncan. Since June, it has sold 89,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Costello is on break from summer touring and returns to the road with an October 5 show in Singapore before heading to Australia.

(Editing by SheriLinden at Reuters)