Over the past few days, two rock legends dished on some upcoming catalogue projects while discussing their latest musical works.
On Friday, in a new interview with Billboard, Elvis Costello talked about next month’s Hey Clockface, releasing October 30 – but also let slip some details about another series of reissues around his first decade of material:
Recently I went to a meeting at a record company for the first time since the ’90s [at Universal, which last year renewed its global license deal for most of Costello’s recordings]. We began with the idea that if we were going to do another edition [of reissues], we couldn’t simply issue the records again. And I realized that, who better than the person who wrote the songs to tell you what else is there – things that I never released, live recordings. Let’s face it: This is now 40 years [after Costello’s early albums]. I can’t imagine there being another edition of releases after this one. And the first will be a six-record set based on Armed Forces.
Costello said the Armed Forces box – which does not have a release date – would include “three live recordings ranging from the summer of ’78 to the summer of ’79…trac[ing] the development of The Attractions as a live act, from a club combo to a successful pop group.” The package will also include scans from his handwritten notebooks. Future releases would incorporate a new recording of one of Costello’s albums (slated for an April release) and a compilation centering on 1998’s Painted From Memory, Elvis’ collaboration with songwriter Burt Bacharach.
This is far from the first time this phase of Costello’s career has been revisited. In 1993, his first 11 albums (debut My Aim is True (1977) to 1986’s Blood and Chocolate – all of which he owns the rights to) were reissued with bonus tracks by Demon in the U.K. and Rykodisc in America. (A four-disc box, 2 1/2 Years, packaged expansions of My Aim is True, This Year’s Model (1978) and Armed Forces with the promo-only Live At The El Mocambo set.) Between 2001 and 2005, those 11 albums were expanded as double-disc sets by Rhino Records alongside deluxe versions of Costello’s six Warner Bros. albums issued between 1989 and 1996. (Edsel, which issued those sets in the U.K., also compiled three volumes of his singles between 1977 and 1986 on CD during this era.)
A third go-round from Hip-O/UMe featured double-disc editions of My Aim is True and This Year’s Model in 2007 and 2008, with a mix of previously released bonus studio material, a handful of unheard early demos and unissued live shows. A separate “Costello Show” live series resulted in standalone versions of Live At The El Mocambo and Live At Hollywood High (a three-track EP with copies of Armed Forces that was previously expanded for the Rhino reissue) in 2009 and 2010; this meant four shows from the same two-year period were issued across three calendar years – a point Costello was quick to criticize in a 2010 interview. But Costello was happy enough with Universal to re-license his catalogue to them, and promises these sets to be the last word on the era.
Meanwhile, Bruce Springsteen seems to be hard at work on archival material even as he, too, prepares to release next month’s new album Letter to You. Speaking to Rolling Stone for their new cover story, Springsteen notes that three of the new album’s songs – “Janey Needs a Shooter,” “If I Was the Priest” and “Song for Orphans” – were written and recorded early in his solo career (before 1973’s debut Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.) and relocated while researching a future archival project. Or, more specifically, what he calls “a lot of projects” – specifically a follow-up to 1998’s Tracks. Though there is, of course, no timeline, the feature indicates the next volume will not only focus on studio outtakes but possibly full albums completed but never issued. (In keeping with touch-ups as heard on the box sets for Darkness on the Edge of Town and The River, E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg estimated he’d laid down overdubs on some 40 songs “in all different styles” since 2017.)
Granted, Springsteen’s been generous with catalogue material over the last decade as well: in addition to remastering many of his original albums across two box sets and a wave of vinyl, he’s issued rare and unreleased tracks across digital EPs and on companion albums to his memoir and the Bruce-inspired drama Blinded by the Light. His archival live concert series continues to thrive – August’s most recent volume featured another 1984 arena show on the Born in the U.S.A. tour – and has even expanded to curated playlists on Spotify. And that doesn’t even count the three studio albums he’s released since The Second Disc started publishing, plus the features and companion live albums to Springsteen on Broadway and Western Stars.
What sort of archival titles are you hoping to see from these two rock heroes? Sound off below, and look to The Second Disc for info on each as it comes.