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Elvis Costello With Burt Bacharach
"Painted From Memory"

© Mercury Records

Year of Release: 1998

track listing
  • The Darkest Place
  • Toledo
  • I Still Have That Other Girl
  • This House Is Empty Now
  • Tears At The Birthday Party
  • Such Unlikely Lovers
  • My Thief
  • The Long Division
  • Painted From Memory
  • The Sweetest Punch
  • What's Her Name Today
  • God Give Me Strength

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    "Painted From Memory"

    It's amazing how Elvis Costello has covered different styles of music throughout his career. He first emerged on the scene in 1979 with numerous pop/new wave albums, then experimented with Country (the Almost Blue album) and Jazz (the song "Almost Blue"). Even Classical music is on his list; his Juliet Letters album with England's Brodsky Quartet, was based on a Shakespeare character, Juliet Capulet.

    By the release of his 1998 album, Painted With Memory, he had signed with a new record company (Mercury), and for his first release for the label, he teamed up with a legendary record producer, Burt Bacharach, who was very popular in the 1960s writing songs with Hal David, and providing these songs for Dionne Warwick. The music style on Painted From Memory is best described as Adult Contemporary, and it could also be considered light jazz. To be truthful, Elvis Costello is a lounge lizard on this album, as this music is truly best considered as lounge music material. (Of course, there's nothing REALLY WRONG with that...)

    "In The Darkest Place" has a soft-jazz feel, "Toledo" has a pop-jazz feel with horns arrangements heard in the works of Bacharach and Dionne Warwick songs in the 1960s. "I Still Have That Other Girl" has the same sound as "In The Darkest Place", a soft-jazz sound, and is quite pleasant.

    "This House Is Empty Now" is another pleasant soft-jazz number, "Tears At The Birthday Party" has a pop/jazz feel. "Such Unlikely Lovers" has a somewhat 1970s soul feel to it, as in songs by Earth, Wind & Fire and Heatwave. (Not exactly, but it's close in some parts of this song.)

    Lounge music at its best is "My Thief", with great piano arrangements. "The Long Division" is another song like "Such Unlikely Lovers", having a soul ballad atmosphere.

    The title track "Painted From Memory" is another lounge act song, and the musical arrangements are truly fantastic, guitars, piano and all. "The Sweetest Punch" has the pop sound, "What's Her Name Today" is where the title track left off; it's another lounge act tune, with the highly acclaimed musical arrangements. However, the title track is better than this particular tune. "God Give Me Strength" features the famous horns heard on many of Dionne Warwick's 1960s songs, and like many of the songs heard on this album, it's another soft-jazz/lounge act composition.

    Heads definitely turn in a different direction after listening to Painted From Memory. Most of Elvis Costello's albums feature rock and/or the punk/new-wave sound he is most famous for. But through the years Costello has always experimented with different sources of music. His choice in teaming up with Burt Bacharach was a good move. Both Costello and Bacharach co-wrote all of the songs on this album. And it is quite impressive, both musically and vocally. Most people may not think Costello's vocals are truly of high caliber, but his vocals on Painted From Memory does work with the excellent musical conducting/arrangements of Burt Bacharach.

    Call them an odd couple, but Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach have presented an album that is truly enjoyable for the Adult Contemporary/Jazz fan, and it is a great album for romantic situations, presenting a background for those unforgettable romantic moments, whatever they will be.

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    Next Review: #627
    The Animals--In The Beginning