Elvis Costello, Burt Bacharach Unearth Unreleased Tracks For Box Set – Rolling Stone
The Songs of Bacharach and Costello, out March 3 via Ume, will feature all of the published songs the two musicians have written since they first started working together in 1995. It also boasts a mix of 19 previously unreleased recordings, including live performances and songs written from some unrealized musical projects, including one based on Austin Powers.
To tease the box set, Costello and Bacharach shared two unreleased live performances. One is a rendition of “Painted From Memory” recorded in Stockholm, Sweden, with longtime Attractions and Imposters pianist Nieve, as well as the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. The other is a performance of the Bacharach and Hal David-penned hit, “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” at London’s Royal Festival Hall in 1998.
Along with those unreleased tracks, Costello and Bacharach also shared a rare live rendition of “In the Darkest Place,” recorded as a duo with Nieve on piano, in Melbourne, Australia, in 1999.
Beyond the smattering of live recordings, the box set’s real lost gems appear to be on the new Taken From Life collection, which primarily features songs from an unrealized musical adaptation of Costello and Bacharach’s 1998 album, Painted From Memory. The musical was spearhead by sitcom mastermind Chuck Lorre (Two and a Half Men, Big Bang Theory) and Tony-winning writer Steven Sater (Spring Awakening), who crafted a set of characters and a narrative from the songs on the original album. They also requested Costello and Bacharach write a dozen more tunes to flesh out the project.
Some of the songs from the Painted From Memory musical score feature vocals from Audra Mae and Jenni Muldaur, along with piano from Jim Cox and Thomas Bartlett. Costello’s renditions of “You can Have Her” and “Look Up Again” were arranged by Vince Mendoza and recorded in Sept. 2021 under Bacharach’s direction.
In a statement, Costello said of the songs from the Painted From Memory musical, “These reflect the stories and impulses of a group of people who are, obsessive and vain, who are betrayed and become disappointed in life but long tenderly for a happier time, who are unfaithful, dishonest, destructive and turn out to be the inventors of a dangerous past, who are guilty, haunted and romantically deluded, desperate, vengeful and even cruel.”
Taken From Life also features Bacharach’s performance of “Lie Back and Think of England,” a tune he and Costello wrote during some exploratory sessions for an Austin Powers musical with Mike Myers. That potential project came about after the pair wrote “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” for The Spy Who Shagged Me, in which they also had cameos.
The Songs of Bacharach and Costello will be released as a four-CD set, as well as a truncated double-LP vinyl set. Costello also penned a 10,000-word essay for the project, which will be accompanied by a smattering of rare photographs.