A story to restore your faith in music superstars this holiday season. Elvis Costello is rallying his fans to save money by *not* buying a shiny new gift box set of his music called “the return of the spectacular spinning songbook”. The title comes from a trademark of Costello’s live shows with his band, the Attractions…he invites audience members to get to go up on stage and spin a massive, game-show style wheel of song titles from his back-catalog…whatever comes up, Elvis & the Attractions play.
While Costello isn’t knocking what he describes as a “beautifully designed compendium” he agrees that the two hundred fifty dollar price-tag levied by universal, his record company, is too high! Doth Elvis protest too much? Is this a holiday ruse to call attention to the tony gift? Costello’s official response sounds more like a gesture of good will to all men, and frugal music enthusiasts, he says: “all our attempts to have this number revised have been fruitless but rather than detain you with tedious arguments about morality, panache and book-keeping - when there are really bigger fish to filet these days - we are taking the following unusual step”.
His “unusual step” is to instead guide listeners towards “ambassador of jazz” a ten-album get together of re-mastered tracks honoring pioneering jazz trumpeter, singer, and revolutionary bandleader Louis Armstrong. The fine collection is wrapped up in an imitation suitcase decked out with travel stickers and other elements of swag guaranteed to catch the eye of any music gadabout and melt the dark hearts of music industry grinches. While the Armstrong collection is a “whole hearted” recommendation from the former bad-boy Elvis Costello, the Armstrong box also comes at a steep one hundred fifty bucks. Saving music lovers a cool Benjamin.
Perhaps Elvis’ caution to buyers is a call for a thriftier way to appease Costello fans who look forward to gift sets under the tree. A box is what you make of it…and all the old Elvis tracks are available elsewhere…probably on moldering albums in your parents basement, or on a cassette in your attic….and now that hipsters and nostalgists have made record stores again popular, you can set aside packaged box set aspirations and make an almighty Costello compilation yourself and stick a pinwheel on it.