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Elvis Costello – from isolation – Artists4NHS (March 27th, 2020) Reviewed

Elvis Costello solved my what to listen to today while I read Woody Allen’s (hysterical so far) autobiography,  Chet Baker in Tokyo from 1987. Elvis mentioned it because Chet, the late, great English trumpeter who you know from “Shipbuilding” at the very least, performed (an exquisite, mellow, and very well sung) cover of “Almost Blue” that Elvis mentioned.  So after failing to find the album on any streaming services, and deciding it isn’t in the world’s best interest to have it delivered right this second by some poor blue collar worker risking life and limb, discovered the album on Youtube (here). It was the highlight of Elvis’s 42 minute q and a in aid of the National Health Service in the UK. Performed live and edited after when the remote didn’t work.

We had all hoped and prayed that Elvis benefitting the UK’s National Health Service was gonna be special, we were gonna get a 30 minute, hour, two hour live show, like that breathtaking Carnegie Hall solo gig back in 2014 (here), what we got was a moving “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” than 40 minutes of answers to type written questions from fans,  and then a witty in the extreme “Money”.

If you don’t know Costello’s written work so well, if you never bought the deluxe CDs with incredible liner notes, or read his autobiography, seen him being interviewed by Rosanne Cash, or sat through some long ass q and a, it might be a revelation. But Chet and “Shipbuilding”? McCartney co-writing “Veronica”? Linda and El? Hell, we ever known in detail about his father’s death.  We know this stuff.

What we don’t know is that Costello was in the middle of a tour of the UK when he decided to ignore the Government, who weren’t do anything, and cancelled his tour due to the Coronavirus,  returning home to Vancouver while his family is a county away. One presumes he is in self quarantined otherwise, why not jump in a car and go stay with your wife? The neighbors are leaving him groceries which…. I mean, you gotta think, right?

Certainly, Costello’s years as an angry young man are long, long gone, and while Brinsley Schwarz performed, “Peace, Love” with miles of cynicism, and the original Costello cover with unconcealed anger, the opening  during Isolation take was brimming with love and affection and hope for all of us…

Grade: B-


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