Costello Specs #2: (February 1996)

The Demon Reissue Program in Review

by Dave Pannell and Richard Arthur

 

 

 


The reissue program is over, so it is time for an unhealthy obsessive’s overview of the whole series. The first positive point was the sound quality, which was a substantial improvement, especially compared to the original US CDs. Secondly, the liner notes, although rather disappointing for the first few reissues (with an imbalance in the attention given to the extended play bands and the albums proper) improved thereafter to be a really positive feature of the series. Then there were the extended play bands themselves. Table 1 shows the breakdown of these into previously released and unreleased tracks, as well as the number of proper tracks and remixes that were not reissued. These non-reissued-items have been allocated fairly subjectively to albums from the periods when they were recorded. As well as these previously-released-but-not-reissued tracks, there are at least two unreleased songs whose release was expected but did not occur (Having it All and King of America).

CD On original release Extended play, previously released Extended play, not previously released Total on reissue Previously released but not reissued Remixes not reissued Total not reissued
MAIT 12 3 7 22 7 3 10
TYM 12 3 3 18 1 1 2
AF 12 9 0 21 0 1 1
GH 20 9 2 31 1 0 1
T 14 2 7 23 0 0 0
AB 12 4 7 23 6 0 6
IB 15 6 3 24 3 0 3
PTC 13 3 4 20 1 5 6
GCW 13 4 6 23 1 4 5
KOA 15 3 8 26 5 0 5
B&C 11 6 1 18 2 3 5

The reallocation of old B sides to their "home" albums was of some interest, but for us unhealthy obsessives the real attraction of the new reissue program was the inclusion of 48 previously unreleased tracks (apart from El Mocambo). Table 2 shows a break down of these new tracks. Because of their substantial differences from the original releases we have counted The World and His Wife and Deportee as new originals.

CD New versions of old covers New covers New versions of old originals New originals Total new tracks
MAIT     2 5 7
TYM     2 1 3
AF         0
GH     2   2
T   3 1 3 7
AB 3 3 1   7
IB     1 2 3
PTC     1 3 4
GCW   1 4 1 6
KOA 2 3 1 2 8
B&C       1 1
Totals 5 10 15 18 48

Five albums had six to eight new tracks. Of these, arguably the most interesting and enjoyable were on Trust. The most disappointing reissue was undoubtedly Armed Forces with not a single new track. On the plus side at least there were no previously released tracks from the Armed Forces period that missed the reissue, but it would have been nice to have some unheard live versions, as on later releases. This inclusion of many previously unheard live tracks on the later reissues was a clear trend. Whereas for the first five we got El Mocambo and Hollywood High (welcome, but well known to us all), after Trust we heard 17 new live tracks on four of the six reissues. It seems as if the release of El Mocambo opened a valve somehow, making EC more comfortable with live releases, culminating with the King of America bonus CD and Deep Dead Blue, both wonderful. Hopefully this new attitude to live releases will facilitate the early release of the mooted boxed set.


Dave Pannell's Elvis Costello Page
Copyright © David J. Pannell, 2009
Last revised: March 30, 2009.