Elvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet: The Juliet Letters (Expanded) - Disc 1 of 2 CD Track Listing

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Elvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet The Juliet Letters (Expanded) - Disc 1 of 2 (1993)
The Juliet Letters (Expanded) - Disc 1 of 2\nElvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet\n2006 Rhino/Warner Bros. Records, Inc.\n\nOriginally Released January 19, 1993\nOriginal CD Edition Released January 19, 1993\nRyko CD Edition Released N/A\nExpanded Rhino Edition Released March 21, 2006\n\nAMG EXPERT REVIEW: Looking back on it, it's remarkable that Warner didn't sue Elvis Costello for making deliberately noncommercial, non-representative records, the way Geffen did with Neil Young in the '80s. After all, it's not just that he made a record as anti-pop as Mighty Like a Rose, it's that he followed it with a full-fledged classical album, The Juliet Letters -- "a song sequence for string quartet and voice," recorded with the Brodsky Quartet. It's inspired by a Verona professor who responded to letters addressed to Juliet, of Romeo and Juliet fame, too. Given this history, it's little wonder that the record didn't storm the charts, but it is remarkable that Warner, even with their reputation for being an artist's label, decided to release it, since this just doesn't fit anywhere -- not within pop (especially in the grunge-saturated 1993) and not within classical, either. Of course, that's precisely what's interesting about the record, and if interesting didn't signify any rewards with Mighty, it does here. This is a distinctive, unusual affair that, at its best, effectively marries chamber music with Beatlesque art pop. And there are a number of moments that work remarkably well on the record, such as "I Almost Had a Weakness" and "Jacksons, Monk and Rowe." True, these are the songs closest to straight-ahead Costello songs, yet they're still nice, small gems, and even if the rest of the record can be a little arch and awkward, it's not hard to admire what Costello and the Brodskys set out to do. And that's the problem with the record -- it's easy to intellectualize, even appreciate, what it intends to be, but it's never compelling enough to return to. More experiment than effective, then.\n\n[The Juliet Letters was the last of Elvis Costello's albums from 1977 to 1996 to receive an expanded double-disc treatment in Rhino's extended reissue campaign, finally appearing on its own in March 2006. Given the unusual collaborative nature of the project, there wasn't as much unreleased music and rarities as there were for other Costello albums, so this second disc winds up as a clearing-house for highlights from Costello's art projects of the '90s. Eight of the 18 tracks date from the Meltdown Festival Elvis curated in 1995; two of these -- "Gigi" and "Deep Dead Blue" -- were originally issued as part of Deep Dead Blue, his EP with guitarist Bill Frisell, and there is one other song from that set, "Upon a Veil of Midnight Blue." In addition to these songs from Meltdown, there are the three non-LP songs from the 1993 promotional EP Live at New York Town Hall: Jerome Kern's "They Didn't Believe Me," Tom Waits' "More Than Rain," and Brian Wilson's "God Only Knows." Also included is "She Moved Through the Fair," a Costello-sung traditional folk tune that appeared on the Brodsky Quartet's 1994 album Lament, and another Costello/Brodsky collaboration on "Lost in the Stars," plucked from the 1997 tribute album September Songs: The Music of Kurt Weill, plus three parts of "Fire Suite" that were recorded with the Jazz Passengers and released originally on Roy Nathanson's 2000 LP Fire at Keaton's Bar & Grill. Considering the variety of sources, spanning the better part of the decade, it's not a big surprise that this disc isn't particularly cohesive -- particularly in comparison to its parent disc -- but there's a good batch of interesting music here. Not always good -- the version of "God Only Knows" is awkward, for instance -- but even the stumbles are worthwhile listening for those who appreciate The Juliet Letters, and the best of this, like "Fire Suite," is quietly sublime.] -- Stephen Thomas Erlewine\n\nAmazon.com Product Description\nLondon-born Declan McManus, better known as Elvis Costello, has distinguished his remarkable career with a long and acclaimed string of artistically adventurous albums. this lyrically brilliant and melodically nimble singer-songwriter's penchant for exploring diverse genres and shifting musical personae is nowhere more front and center than on 1993's The Juliet Letters. Inspired by a collection of missives written by an Italian professor to Shakespeare's Juliet, this unique project fuses pop sensibilities and chamber music form, proving both avant garde and accesssible as Costello gave new meaning to the term "alternative music." \n\nAMAZON.COM CUSTOMER REVIEW\nBrave, but not for everyone., June 7, 2006\nReviewer: Tim Brough "author and music buff" (Springfield, PA United States)\nI give this a forth star because I still pull it out for the occasional listen. But it remains one of the most difficult CD's in Elvis' careening musical experimentation. What usually happens is I find myself wondering where these songs would have fit had they been recorded for other Costello albums. "Jacksons Monk and Rowe" obviously would have made it as a "Get Happy" song. "For Other Eyes;" "Imperial Bedroom." A folksy arrangement might have sent "Damnation's Cellar" to "King Of America." And so on and so forth.... \n\nBut the song sequence works wonderfully and the playing of the Brodskys never sinks to pedestrian. These folks obviously understood that they were going to have to throw preconceived ideas about playing with a "rocker," just as Elvis was trying to (as he put it) avoid the dreaded "crossover" sound. My major gripe with the album is that Elvis' voice isn't always up to the task ("North" fares much better in that department). And anyone looking for a "typical" Costello platter is in for a major shock. Of course, anyone trying to define a "typical" Costello disc is probably going to have a rough go of it..... \n\nThat doesn't stop "The Juliet Letters" from featuring some fine work, including "The Birds Will Still Be Singing," which deserves a shot with a voice like Josh Groban's or Michael Buble's. Or maybe now that Elvis has his new beau, she'll do a full set of her favorites from the Costello/MacManus discography. Now wouldn't THAT be a hoot? (Think of the lush strings that abounded on "North," over a decade after "The Juliett Letters.") \n\nThe bonus disc has some fun things, including cuts from Costello's obscure "Deep Dead Blue" and - my personal favorite - he and the Brodskys covering "God Only Knows." \n\nAMAZON.COM CUSTOMER REVIEW\nUnusual collaboration demonstrates that EC knows no boundaries, April 21, 2006\nReviewer: Wayne Klein "Wayne Klein" (Fairfield, CA United States) \nI was surprised to see that no one had written a review of one of Elvis Costello's finest albums in the 90's. "The Juliet Letters" certainly is an acquired taste; if you like contemporary classical music you'll enjoy this. The songs still have hooks even if they are played by violin vs. guitar or keyboard. The story behind this release is that there was an academic that answered letters written to Juliet (of the play Romeo and Juliet"). Never mind (as EC points out in his deluxe notes)that it was kind of creepy that someone would be writing letters to imaginery character much less one that had been "dead" for over 200 years. \n\nThis reissue features the original album on the first disc. The highlights there are "Swine","I Almost Had a Weakness" with a great melody, "This Offer is Unrepeatable" and "Jacksons, Monk and Rowe". The last track is the closest to a "single" the album would produce. EC wrote, co-wrote with the Brodsky Quartet (some members of the quartet also wrote material solo as well). The remastered sound has better detail than the previous edition but otherwise seems much the same. If Costello and the Brodsky Quartet overreach at times, it's the over reach of talent and ambition not pretension. \n\nThe bonus disc is the find here. Including tracks recorded for other projects with and without the Brodsky Quartet including Costello's favorite tracks from the "Deep Dead Blue" Ep released in 1993 recorded with Bill Frisell. We get a stunning version of "God Only Knows" recorded live with the Quartet as well as other material recorded live such as Michael Thomas' marvelous "Skeleton" and a powerful arrangement of the folk standard "She Moved Through the Fair" arranged by Quartet member Paul Cassidy. Two of Costello's collaborations with John Harle from the "Terror and Magnficience" CD are also included. We also get live recordings of "Put Away Forbidden Playthings" (a song that Costello was commissioned to write) as well as a trio of the Fire Suite pieces EC collaborated on. \n\nThis is a terrific reissue mixing a number of unusual collaborations on the second disc. While fans who loved "My Aim is True" probably won't be playing this a whole lot Costello fans that love his rich material and unusual collaborations over the years will. This makes an excellent companion piece to "My Flame Burns Blue" Costello's jazz-rock-orchestral album recorded live. That terrific and unusual album has a bonus disc with excerpts from Costello's fine contemporary orchestral piece "Il Sogno" conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas working with the London Symphony Orchestra as a bonus disc. Both of these releases are well worth picking up. \n\nAMAZON.COM CUSTOMER REVIEW\nEpistolary reflections on Costellian themes..., January 15, 2006\nReviewer: ewomack "ewomack" (Roseville, MN USA)\nElvis Costello (Declan MacManus) has done his fair share of collaborations in the past decade. From the Grammy-award winning project with Burt Bacharach in 1998 to 2001's subdued "For the Stars" with Anne-Sophie von Otter Costello has branched out from his rock roots in diverse directions. "The Juliet Letters" from 1993 was the first in a long line of such collaborations. Costello and the Brodsky Quartet were brought together by mutual appreciation (Costello went to Brodsky Quartet concerts while the Brodsky Quartet attended Costello concerts). And Costello's now ex-wife Cait O'Riordan provided the epistolary theme for the project. She spotted a newspaper article about a professor that responded to letters addressed to "Juliet Capulet". Costello then presented the article to the quartet for inspiration. The group of five ended up writing all of the music and words (though much of the music is credited to "MacManus"). The results fall somewhere between classical song cycles and Beatle-inspired "string rock" (a la "Yesterday" and "Eleanor Rigby"). Feelings of melancholy and anger pervade most of the songs. The strings punctuate these feelings perfectly. Fans of Costello's rock music probably won't find much to appreciate here. But the album contains many of the same classic Costello themes and vocal styles utilized in his rock. \n\nLike a Richardson novel, letters provide the basis for the project. Failed and frustrated relationships abound. "Thank you for the flowers / I threw them on the fire / And I burned the photographs that you had enclosed / GOD they were ugly children" Costello sings venemously on the driving "I Almost Had a Weakness". After all, nothing seeps loneliness more than an unanswered love letter. But more than love gets the treatment here. Other songs include a suicide note ("Dear Sweet Filthy World"), a letter from a soldier to a stranger ("I Thought I'd Write to Juliet"), a bizarre experiment in selective exhumation ("Damnation's Cellar"), a reflection on separation ("Why?"), and a letter full of hope in the face of despair ("The Birds Will Still Be Singing"). Many songs explore the sad one-sided nature of letter writing. And no song responds to any other song. This fills the songs that deal with ineffable questions with an almost desparing isolation. But not everything is doom and gloom. "This Offer is Unrepeatable" picks up the mood with a humorously exaggerated letter from a scam artist (and it more than a little resembles the Tom Waits' classic "Step Right Up"). The final song injects some hope into the stark themes in the manner of "Old Man River": "Banish all dismay / Extinguish every sorrow / If I'm lost or I'm forgiven / The birds will still be singing". So in the end, things aren't as bad as they seem. The world goes on regardless of our ephemeral concerns. And as long as the world goes on hope exists. \n\nThis CD contains a lot of very beautiful and moving music. Two violins, a viola, a violincello, and voice provide all of the instrumentation. Costello branched out into something very different here. And not all of his fans appreciated it. Regardless, in retrospect "The Juliet Letters" pointed to the future. This year Costello will tour orchestra halls. Not only that, he also wrote a full orchestral score ("Il Sogno"). Strings appear more frequently in his recent music. And year by year he seems to embrace "classical" music more intensely. Still, he hasn't abandoned rock and pop (as "When I Was Cruel" and "The Delivery Man" testify). Though this early collaboration remains somewhat underappreciated, it nonetheless fully showcases Elvis Costello's diverse, adaptable, and broad musical scope. Costello will doubtless appear somewhere on the list of accomplished twentieth and twenty-first century musicians.\n\nAMAZON.COM CUSTOMER REVIEW\nBeauty? Truth? You Can't Handle Either!!, January 5, 2006\nReviewer: the anti-critic (Boston, MA)\nThe reason the Costello/Brodsky collaboration "Juliet Letters" is such a difficult listen is also why its the MOST SINGULARLY BRILLIANT ALBUM IN THE ENTIRE ELVIS COSTELLO DISCOGRAPHY! And this declaration is coming from a man who could write a thesis on "Armed Forces" and "Imperial Bedroom" in his sleep! The idea of setting "letters" to music has certainly been done before, but Costello sticks his neck out, both as a composer and singer in ways he'd never done before. Accompanying yourself with just a string quartet (no snarling guitars or euphonious keyboard filigrees,) is the surest way to test your mettle as a vocalist. And sure, sometimes Costello's voice isn't exactly the strongest, but like say, Billie Holliday it always seems to occur precisely when the lyric calls for it: check out "Who Do You Think You Are?" or "The Birds Will Still Be Singing" and you'll hear exactly what I mean. Even his ode to a chain letter, "This Offer Is Unrepeatable" serves up a cheeky bit of satire worthy of "Three Penny Opera." Of course, you can only experience this album sporadically - could anyone watch "Death Of A Saleman" or "Long Day's Journey Into Night" repeatedly without losing one's mind? Emotionally-wrought exercises like "Letters" take a lot out of you, even when you're merely the observer (or listener,) rather than the participant. But that's what makes the journey, however bittersweet, one worth taking.\n\nAMAZON.COM CUSTOMER REVIEW\nGive it a Try, March 2, 2004\nReviewer: A music fan\nI've been listening to a lot of Philip Glass and Steve Reich lately,and its caused me to go back to this album to give it another go.Previously I thought that it was an interesting experiment which hadn't worked out very well.Now I think that it is a good album for rockers and classical music lovers to use to stretch their ears a little.So called crossover albums are usually horrifying-does anyone else remember that album that Procol Harum did with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra? Elvis flatly denounces the concept in the liner notes.And not everything on this album works.It isn't the brilliant work that some of the other reviewers seem to think that it is.But it is a worthwhile experiment and a work that should be given a fair chance.Rockers and classical music lovers tend to be snobbish and dismissive of one another.This is a good work for them to live with for a while.When Elvis and the Brodsky's click-on "Jackson Monk and Rowe" or "Romeos Seance"-the results are as beautiful and valid as anything either of them have ever done.\nThree stars because some of this simply doesn't work. But this is a work anyone who likes Elvis or the Brodsky's should have in their collection.\n\nAMAZON.COM CUSTOMER REVIEW\nI know Elvis..., December 3, 2003\nReviewer: "pawil71" (Teaneck, NJ United States)\nI am a great admirer of Elvis Costello. Like many of us, I like it better when he is with the Attractions, rocking out than when he is with Burt Bacharach getting self conscious and arty. I am also a classical musician, deeply skeptical of "crossover" albums. In fact, I don't think I can name one crossover album I like. Except this one. And I love it. I think this record has several of Costello's best lyrics AND melodies. "Taking my life in your hands" would make Lennon, McCartney, and Mahler all equally proud. It defies genre and comes scarily close to what I am tempted to call "pure expression." Of course, that's a ridiculous notion, but this song is such an emotional and aesthetic slam dunk that I am awed. Also I love "Damnation's Cellar" and "Who do you think you are?" There are some duds here, and I'd have to say the first two tracks will scare a lot of people off. Hang in there. It was a year or two after this album was released that I learned to love it, and time after time, it holds up better for me than any other Costello release.\n\nAMAZON.COM CUSTOMER REVIEW\nmagical..., February 21, 2003\nReviewer: Todd Gillette (KC, Missouri United States)\nWhat an irony : one of my favorite recordings EVER, but I can't think of one person to recommend it to. My rocker friends wouldn't last 10 minutes into this as they await the drums to kick in, and my friends of the classical persuasion would give Elvis' "unclassically trained voice" even less audition time. My ongoing "desert island" top ten rotates over time, but Juliet Letters is a permanent fixture on that list. Now, if they'd just release the 1-hour PBS concert/documentary on DVD ...\n\nAMAZON.COM CUSTOMER REVIEW\nFurther Proof That Beethoven, Shostakovich, and Stalling..., May 2, 2000\nReviewer: P. B. Fey (Phoenixville, PA USA)\n...were really rock-and-rollers. And this is their legacy: Elvis Costello, in musical and lyrical collaboration with the esteemed and equally adventurous Brodsky Quartet, has created an engaging song cycle loosely inspired by an article about a Veronese professor who actually collects letters sent to Shakespeare's Juliet. Each song suggests some form of epistle: a graffito, a brash direct mail come-on, a suicide note, a divorce decree, a letter from the front. Costello's voice is perfectly suited to the rich, vibrant Brodsky strings. In some instances they sound like five stringed instruments; other times they are five voices. Exquisite. This is not a classical record. Listen to "Jacksons, Monk and Rowe" and tell me that isn't Motown you're hearing. Where other artists (some of whom are quite close to Mr. Costello) strive to create modern classical music, Elvis and the Brodskys succeed by eschewing convention in favor of what's right for each letter. And there are a few musical quotes that will bring a smile, as well. Particularly in "I Almost Had a Weakness." Bear in mind the label that issued this disc (Warner Bros.) as you listen to that track. This may not be everyone's cup of tea, but you owe it to yourself to hear it. If only to renew your faith in the potential of rock-and-roll.\n\nAMAZON.COM CUSTOMER REVIEW\nI sob, I laugh, I hear the songs in my head, August 21, 1999\nReviewer: A music fan\nI've had this CD for a few years and have tried to introduce a number of friends to it; but there's a problem: this CD doesn't work, CAN'T work as background music. With all those ingenious twists of words, music, and metre (like "pass the vinegar, I'm beginning to think" jammed into 5 beats or so.) it is a totally immersive, emotionally demanding artistic tour-de-force that just won't let you ignore it... and may just leave you crying.\n\nAMAZON.COM CUSTOMER REVIEW\nInteresting attempt, December 22, 1998\nReviewer: A music fan\nThis is a noble and bold attempt on Costello's part. Unfortunately, it doesn't work. His voice and those sharp strings add up to a fairly grating experience when taken as a whole. "Taking My Life in Your Hands" is a good song in any book, though.\n\nAMAZON.COM CUSTOMER REVIEW\nHaunting, singable, complex, moving., June 12, 1998\nReviewer: Kenyon (alameda, ca United States)\nUnlike anything else he's done -which a career-long fan hopes/fears. And, once again, a brilliant gift - in concept and execution. Risky and deeply rewarding. As with all True Art, not only bears but improves with repeated listening/contemplation.\n\nHalf.com Album Notes\nPersonnel: Elvis Costello (vocals); Michael Thomas, Ian Belton (violins); Paul Cassidy (viola); Jacqueline Thomas (cello).\n\nProducers: Elvis Costello, The Brodsky Quartet, Kevin Killen.\n\nRecorded at Church Studios, Crouch Hill, North London, England from September 14 to October 1, 1992. \n\nIncludes liner notes by Elvis Costello.\nElvis Costello/Brodsky Quartet: Elvis Costello (vocals); Ian Belton, Michael Thomas (violin); Paul Cassidy (viola); Jacqueline Thomas.\n\nAfter a couple of post-Attractions albums where Costello enjoyed his newfound freedom as a solo artist, he began to feel the need to collaborate with another group. This notion coincided with his growing interest in classical music. It seemed like a natural step, then, for him to collaborate with the Brodsky Quartet, a string ensemble he'd grown to admire. Neither pop nor classical, THE JULIET LETTERS resides mostly in the world of art song, with extended structures and lyrics based on a theme (a group of letters written to and by various characters). The album is a collaboration in the truest sense, even more so than the Attractions days-the Brodsky Quartet co-wrote not only the music, but some of the lyrics as well. THE JULIET LETTERS was a gutsy move for Costello, and is stands out as one of him most unusual albums. Little else in the pop world sounds anything like it.\n\nIndustry Reviews\n3 Stars - Good - ...[Costello's] silky voice suits the pure sound of violins, viola and cello remarkably well...\nQ (03/01/1993)\n\n4.5 Stars - Very Good Plus - ...this ambitious, finely crafted song-sequence by brilliant songsmith Costello and the highly-regarded Brodsky Quartet is unprecedented....The music is topnotch throughout...\nDown Beat (04/01/1993)\n\n...THE JULIET LETTERS is an incredible journey, enjoyable without being highbrow, and ranks as one of Costello's best...an extraordinary pop-classical record...Costello's voice is incredibly strong throughout...\nSpin (02/01/1993)\n\n4 Stars - Excellent - ...With THE JULIET LETTERS, Costello takes another bold step in a new direction....the singer and his collaborators have created something that is as accomplished as it is moving...\nRolling Stone (03/18/1993)
This classical cd contains 20 tracks and runs 62min 52sec.
Freedb: 350eba14


: Music



Music category icon, top 100 and cd listings
  1. Elvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet - Deliver Us (00:49)
  2. Elvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet - For Other Eyes (02:55)
  3. Elvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet - Swine (02:09)
  4. Elvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet - Expert Rites (02:22)
  5. Elvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet - Dead Letter (02:19)
  6. Elvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet - I Almost Had A Weakness (03:53)
  7. Elvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet - Why? (01:25)
  8. Elvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet - Who Do You Think You Are? (03:27)
  9. Elvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet - Taking My Life In Your Hands (03:19)
  10. Elvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet - This Offer Is Unrepeatable (03:12)
  11. Elvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet - Dear Sweet Filthy World (04:17)
  12. Elvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet - The Letter Home (03:10)
  13. Elvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet - Jacksons, Monk And Rowe (03:42)
  14. Elvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet - This Sad Burlesque (02:47)
  15. Elvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet - Romeo's Seance (03:32)
  16. Elvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet - I Thought I'd Write To Juliet (04:06)
  17. Elvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet - Last Post (02:24)
  18. Elvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet - The First To Leave (05:00)
  19. Elvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet - Damnation's Cellar (03:25)
  20. Elvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet - The Birds Will Still Be Singing (04:27)

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