New album for 2013: "Wise Up Ghost" (with The Roots!)

Pretty self-explanatory
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Re: New album for 2013: "Wise Up Ghost" (with The Roots!)

Postby verbal gymnastics » Thu Oct 17, 2013 12:55 pm

That's a fair comment. I took the quote out of context. It was Elvis indeed who brought it up so that puts a different twist on it. It's interesting that Elvis felt this to be an elephant in the room. :?
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Re: New album for 2013: "Wise Up Ghost" (with The Roots!)

Postby cwr » Thu Oct 17, 2013 1:03 pm

Well, I'd rather Costello be the one talking about it, or Questlove, than to have it be a thing that is mentioned without context as an aside in an article, or as a thing that gets thrown in by trolls in the comments threads, which does happen somewhat frequently, and not just for this album.

I liked Questlove's comment in the recent article where he compared it to his own Michele Bachmann/"Lyin' Ass Bitch" controversy. He gets that it's possible for a person to say something stupid when they're trying to be funny or provocative.

Costello has an entire career that is so much greater in scope than this one incident, yet it does loom large in his biography because it happened at the peak of his early success and it left a mark, and for a while I think it could be argued that it put a kind of ceiling on the level of popular success he could achieve, because a lot of people might have only known about him because of that controversy.

So while the dredging up of the topic is in most respects unwelcome, I think there IS a healthy aspect of it, just in that it's better to talk about these things than to run away from them. Costello's 2002 liner notes to Get Happy!! pretty much say everything that needs to be said about it, but the way he talks about it here in this video also conveys something that I hadn't really heard before.

People are curious, people are curious. Even now I see reactions to this record, people going, ‘Well yeah, but they don’t know that about him.’ Well, f****** ask me then.”


I could listen to Costello and Questlove talk forever, about pretty much any topic. They're two really interesting guys with a lot of ideas and opinions about things, and they both seem really genuine when they are engaged in conversation with one another. Man, if they just got in front of a microphone once a week and talked about a record they both liked, I feel like that would be the most interesting podcast on earth to me.

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Re: New album for 2013: "Wise Up Ghost" (with The Roots!)

Postby sweetest punch » Thu Oct 17, 2013 1:16 pm

http://www.elviscostello.com/homepage#/ ... things/509

OKP TV: Elvis Costello x Questlove Trade TV War Stories & Um... Clear The Air About A Few Things

Recently Okayplayer had the unique opportunity to interview Elvis Costello and Questlove–the principal troublemakers behind the recent Wise Up Ghost album from Elvis & The Roots. Or more accurately, we had the chance to listen in as these to musical eminences interviewed each other about everything from the musicality of The Clash to the clout of Patti Labelle. As you might expect, the conversation ranged far, wide and also deep but when we went back to watch the raw footage, two spontaneous exchanges quickly emerged as the most obsessively watchable bits of musical lore.

In the first, Elvis and Questo trade war stories from the trenches of music television, demystifying the behind-the-scenes magic that makes for live performances on TV–and comparing the lip-synch versus live policies of Soul Train and the UK’s Top Of The Pops, sharing the gripes of frustrated musicians and a few hilarious anecdotes along the way. In the second, an innocuous revelation about Questlove’s typically completist collection of Rolling Stone back issues prompts Elvis to address an issue that has clearly been haunting him for years and has apparently been something of an elephant in the room during the recording of Wise Up Ghost. We don’t want to say too much but the elephant involves Costello’s alleged use of a racial slur against James Brown and Ray Charles in an infamous bar brawl back in March 1979. At one point he even seems to be offering Questlove the apology he never had the chance to share with Charles and Brown before they passed–an issue Costello has rarely spoken about since then and certainly never opened up about the way he does here. So if you want to know about it…fuckin’ ask him. Watch below—we guarantee you won’t be able to take your eyes off it:
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Re: New album for 2013: "Wise Up Ghost" (with The Roots!)

Postby sweetest punch » Thu Oct 17, 2013 1:33 pm

http://www.radio1.be/programmas/sonar/m ... wise-ghost

Meteen Mee-cd: Elvis Costello and The Roots - Wise up ghost

Wanneer een van de grootste songschrijvers aller tijden en een van de belangrijkste hip-hopbands ter wereld samen een album maken, dan zijn we zeer benieuwd. Het resultaat is rock 'n roll in zijn meest originele vorm.

Of beter, het is rock 'n roll zoals Elvis Costello het altijd omschreven heeft: "het is een ketel vol poeders en drankjes, kikkers en vingers". "Labels kunnen me niet schelen, zolang we het tof vinden en er ten volle kunnen achter staan," zegt hij nog en in dit geval voegt hij er aan toe: "ik weet niet eens hoe deze muziek heet."

Toch willen we een poging doen, maar dan door te zeggen wat het niet is. Dit is geen pure sang Costello, wat dat ook moge betekenen, want de man is nooit voor één gat te vangen geweest. Maar dus geen rockplaat of geen singersongwritersalbum. Het is ook - met overtuiging - géén hip-hop. Daarvoor zijn de ritmes te langzaam, de beats te uitgewerkt en vooral de arrangementen véél te rijk. Blazers, violen, backing vocals, het kon blijkbaar niet op. Dat brengt ons in de buurt van soul, maar dan een zeer eigen interpretatie ervan.

De roots (heb je'm?) van deze samenwerking werden in 2009 al gelegd, toen Costello te gast was in de Late Night Show van Jimmy Fallon op NBC. The Roots zijn daar het huisorkest. Ahmir ?uestlove Thompson, drummer en muzikaal brein van The Roots, wist dat Costello nogal onder de indruk was van het album 'Voodoo' dat Thompson met D'Angelo gemaakt had en stelde Costello voor om een paar van zijn nummers onder handen te nemen. Dit resulteerde in "radicale" (sic) versies van High fidelity en (I don't want to go to) Chelsea en Costello was er wild van. Een jaar later zaten ze opnieuw samen in de show, en in 2012 ontmoetten ze elkaar daar weer voor een Springsteen-tribute. ?uestlove zat tegen dan al voluit met de vraag om samen te werken, maar durfde het zijn jeugdheld niet vragen. Costello ziet dat anders: volgens hem was ?uestlove zeer overtuigend in zijn aanbod.

De samenwerking was er eerder een van correspondentie: The Roots maakten een basic track op drums en piano, stuurden hem naar Costello en die maakte er op een paar dagen tijd een afgewerkte demo van. Eens genoeg songs trokken ze afwisselend in Amerika en Engeland de studio in, met producer Steven Mandel, die volgens de twee anderen een gelijk aandeel in het maken van de plaat heeft gehad.

'Wise up ghost' is een heel mooie plaat. Geen gemakkelijke, maar dat zou ons ook verbazen. Twee artiesten uit schijnbaar tegengestelde werelden blenden zo goed, dat er een heel nieuwe wereld ontstaat. Een groeiplaat, zoveel is meteen duidelijk, met in het nummer Cinco minutos con vos een opvallende doorkomst van La Marisoul. Zij is de stem van La Santa Cecilia, een van de belangrijkste latinbands van Los Angeles. Een heel mooie plaat dus, in een van de lelijkste hoezen die we in jaren gezien hebben (hoewel, de gelijkenis met de jongste van Bowie is treffend).
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Re: New album for 2013: "Wise Up Ghost" (with The Roots!)

Postby verbal gymnastics » Thu Oct 17, 2013 3:57 pm

I love how in part 2 Questlove calls Elvis "the most user friendliest cat I know".

I think the "Well, f****** ask me then.” quote is odd. You can imagine what sort of response a reporter would get if they did ask and they found Elvis to be in a less than co-operative mood.
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Re: New album for 2013: "Wise Up Ghost" (with The Roots!)

Postby johnfoyle » Sat Oct 19, 2013 6:29 am

Mark Perry has helpfully transcribed the OKP TV video -


[OKP TV – transcript of extract from video published 17 October 2013]

QUESTLOVE: So, when did you let your guard down, or the perception of [your] guard?

COSTELLO: I think two things really brought it about. One was that I did more diverse things and it no longer just went in a convenient definition. And there were things that happened in my life. There were things where you become taken over by the process of being famous, and you start to live within the bubble of your life. And things happen, things happen in your personal life, happen in your public life, that you can’t even believe were you. So I had some things that I needed to explain. Let’s get this out in the open, because people will remark upon it. I got in this fight in ’79 with a bunch of white musicians where I allegedly used a bunch of racial slurs. I wasn't using them because I believed in it. I was, in my arrogant youthful … I thought I was being ironic. And I was being presumptuous that they didn't appreciate the music I’d grown up loving as much as I did. How fucking stupid is that? I grew up in England, and a lot of people will say that English musicians have such this weird outside love for American music - particularly rhythm & blues as we grew up to know it – that we sort of felt like we had possession of it in some weird way. So I heard these words come out of my mouth and there was a bar fight, and it should have never gotten any further than that. But it’s been in my biography ever since. Despite everything else that I've stood for, that’s still mentioned. And some people, particularly in the Twitter/Facebook era, are going to read that. And when you’re in a group, you don’t know. I don’t know whether you know that about me, or whether other people in the band know that and make assumptions: “Oh, this guy’s actually got a white hood in his closet somewhere – he’s actually a secret member of the Klan.” It’s upsetting. It’s upsetting because I can’t explain how I even got to think that you could be funny about something like that. Like I say, I was 25 when that happened. I wasn't even 25. I've lived the whole rest of my life talking … and I did a whole interview for Rolling Stone – cover story – the main agenda of which was not to talk about the music. From their point of view [it] was to offer me the chance for an explanation of how you could possibly get to that way. Because none of the other evidence of my actions suggested that these were my true beliefs or that I was secretly harbouring this, you know? And, by the by, [I] come from a background where people used – not that it’s comparable – but I come from the first … one generation back from where my parents, my father would not be able to go and get certain kind of lodging because of having an Irish name. So, it’s everybody. There’s always somebody trying to push you out. You’re down here, you’re over here, you’re up here. I come from a much more class-based society, the people who were running the country, you have a hereditary monarchy. I mean, it’s absurd. It’s absurd to me growing up from my background but you can’t go like and like, there’s so much. Anyway, sorry. I didn't mean to get into that but, hey, you know what? It bugs me.

[hideously-timed interruption by some women talking in the background]

COSTELLO (directly to Questlove): I'm sorry...

QUESTLOVE: It’s cool.

COSTELLO
: ... you know? It’s about time I said it out loud, you know what I'm saying?

QUESTLOVE: Fine. Yeah.

COSTELLO (turning back to face camera): Because I know in my heart what I am. And people are curious, people are curious. Even now I see reactions to this record, people going “oh yeah, but, you know, they don’t know THAT about him”. Well, fucking ask me, then.

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Re: New album for 2013: "Wise Up Ghost" (with The Roots!)

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sun Oct 20, 2013 8:51 am

Come The MEANTIMES

What are you going to say to me?
Will you be betraying me?
Come The Meantimes

Will you be deceiving me?
And beyond believing in me?
Come The Meantimes

He came back, (right back)
And nobody blinked
He came back, (right back)
At least I think that he did
He came back, (right back)
And he ran and he hid
And he muttered and moaned
And said “Let’s go get stoned”

Will you be denying me?
Will you still come crying to me
Come The Meantimes

Are you still obeying me?
Will you still be praying to me?
Come The Meantimes

Will you sit in judgment then?
Be the first one to condemn
Come The Meantimes

Now you've got nobody else to blame
And trouble remembering my name
Will you still be cursing me
Come my anniversary
Come The Meantimes

He came back (right back)
And they followed and failed
He came back (right back)
He got hammered and nailed
He came back (right back)
And he wandered alone
They said let's gather some stones
And make them atone

Now I'm in a hall of mirrors
With my secret thoughts and terrors
Come The Meantimes
And I’m drinking to your health
Find I’m only talking to myself
Come The Meantimes

He came back (right back)
And nobody blinked
He came back (right back)
At least I think that he did
He came back (right back)
Then he ran and he hid
And he muttered and moaned
And said “Let’s go get stoned”

Blossoms fragrant opening
Poppies full of opium
Come The Meantimes
Phony prophets offer hope
That’s a different kind of dope
Come The Meantimes

Right now!
Right now!
Right now!

Gather some stones and make them atone

Come The Meantimes
(Let’s go get stoned)
Come The Meantimes

Late middle age is a rough patch. Things begin to fall away- physically, mentally, socially we experience consistent dis-integrations. What has prior anchored us to this world begins to vanish or to break apart. Our mortality presses in ominously never more so than when a familiar figure vanishes. This song catches that dis-integration perfectly for me. It has gradually over the past month become my favorite on the new album. Mr. Costello was a mere 58 or so when he wrote these lines. An unblinking ease and a quieter wit is present within them than I have experienced from his pen in the past. What is new to my ears is a blunt expression of a concern for growing older- of the 'coming meantimes'. I hear the efforts of a former alter boy as he tries to find comfort in a personage that long ago was foresworn and denied but who cannot shake the feeling that "I'm only talking to myself". Perhaps the solitary atheist needs the perceived identification with the denied being. There is a striving for a fuller self-transcendence in this song that is ultimately heartbreaking for my ears. I am left with a stoic depression by the singer- "let's go get stoned'.

Musically I find this song invigorating as the singer is constantly mocked with the response-'right back'. The void does not hesitate to puncture our entreaties. It echoes back a chilling response as it fills that response with an angry buzz tone punctuated by pizzicato strings that builds in tone at the end. It is all subsuming like deep space noise. Mr. Ahmir Thompsons's drumming is the best in this song as he tattoos in the call and response to unanswered entreaties:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsRng4fHtTA

The usage of the Sanctus bell throughout, which seems to annoy many, fits nicely; it mirrors in its peeling urgency, as the song progresses, a need for communication and signifies something supernatural is being attempted. There also exists a Judas element as the peeling insistently grows in its frequency as the song moves towards its end or 'daybreak' the way a denial would perhaps grow in intensity and frequency if it were perceived by the supplicant to be false.

I am increasingly in awe of the voice, both written and sung, as presented in this song. It is seemingly unconscious of itself as it ruminates on aging life with a confessional quality that is steeped in self-inflicted terror. Just a marvelous job by all. A musical highpoint for me on the record.
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Re: New album for 2013: "Wise Up Ghost" (with The Roots!)

Postby Poor Deportee » Mon Oct 21, 2013 10:40 pm

It's a surprisingly complex lyric...I don't have Jack's gift for lyrical/poetic interepretation, but the pronouns seem decidedly shifty here, in patented Elvis fashion. It seems to me pretty clear that the entire lyric could be spoken by God Himself (the "he" referring to his son); or, more likely, that with the "Hall of Mirrors" verse the voice shifts from the divine to a human perspective. But note that it could also be the biblical I AM wandering that hall, having given up on us, echoing the conceit of 'God's Comic;' and that the dismissive final verse could be the voice of the divine confirming his utter disengagement from all things human, his retirement from being God. It's significant here that it's not "prophets" per se that offer false hope - but specifically phoney prophets. Or maybe all hope is false.

If the idea of the whole thing being written in the first Person with a capital "P" is a stretch, then I still think we need to see the "Hall of Mirrors" verse as transitional, marking a sort of (mutual) divorce between man and god. (That verse reminds me of Dylan: "he worships at an altar of a stagnant pool/and when he sees his reflection he' s fulfilled..." Although EC's version leaves out that "fulfilled" bit).

I implied earlier in this thread that Elvis is really wrestling with spiritual themes and (perhaps) his own lapsed religious faith on this record, much more than ever before. This song is surely one example. It does seem that EC is finding it harder to sustain the argument advanced in "Dust" in the teeth of deep bereavment. (Speaking of which, "Puppet" just gets stronger with every listen).

I like the pun on "meantime" (mean time), and the connection with middle age hadn't occured to me...nor am I certain that it has to be part of an interpretation. But it is interesting. Good post, Chris!

(Incidentally, the bell is a great touch - don't know what people's beef is. In fact, it's exactly the sound a lie detector makes when the truth is told. Probably not a coincidence, that).
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Re: New album for 2013: "Wise Up Ghost" (with The Roots!)

Postby Jack of All Parades » Tue Oct 22, 2013 8:31 am

Poor Deportee wrote:It's a surprisingly complex lyric...I don't have Jack's gift for lyrical/poetic interepretation, but the pronouns seem decidedly shifty here, in patented Elvis fashion. It seems to me pretty clear that the entire lyric could be spoken by God Himself (the "he" referring to his son); or, more likely, that with the "Hall of Mirrors" verse the voice shifts from the divine to a human perspective. But note that it could also be the biblical I AM wandering that hall, having given up on us, echoing the conceit of 'God's Comic;' and that the dismissive final verse could be the voice of the divine confirming his utter disengagement from all things human, his retirement from being God. It's significant here that it's not "prophets" per se that offer false hope - but specifically phoney prophets. Or maybe all hope is false.

If the idea of the whole thing being written in the first Person with a capital "P" is a stretch, then I still think we need to see the "Hall of Mirrors" verse as transitional, marking a sort of (mutual) divorce between man and god. (That verse reminds me of Dylan: "he worships at an altar of a stagnant pool/and when he sees his reflection he' s fulfilled..." Although EC's version leaves out that "fulfilled" bit).

I implied earlier in this thread that Elvis is really wrestling with spiritual themes and (perhaps) his own lapsed religious faith on this record, much more than ever before. This song is surely one example. It does seem that EC is finding it harder to sustain the argument advanced in "Dust" in the teeth of deep bereavment. (Speaking of which, "Puppet" just gets stronger with every listen).


I like the pun on "meantime" (mean time), and the connection with middle age hadn't occured to me...nor am I certain that it has to be part of an interpretation. But it is interesting. Good post, Chris!

(Incidentally, the bell is a great touch - don't know what people's beef is. In fact, it's exactly the sound a lie detector makes when the truth is told. Probably not a coincidence, that).


Well, PD, there is always that other great English vaudevillian of the prior century and his take on that very same 'Hall of Mirrors':

'This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,

And specious stuff that says No rational being
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
That this is what we fear—no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anesthetic from which none come round. " :wink:
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'

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Re: New album for 2013: "Wise Up Ghost" (with The Roots!)

Postby Azmuda » Tue Oct 22, 2013 9:10 am


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Re: New album for 2013: "Wise Up Ghost" (with The Roots!)

Postby sweetest punch » Tue Oct 22, 2013 2:54 pm

Since you put me down, it seems i've been very gloomy. You may laugh but pretty girls look right through me.

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Re: New album for 2013: "Wise Up Ghost" (with The Roots!)

Postby rightbrain » Tue Oct 22, 2013 6:25 pm

[quote="Poor Deportee"]It's a surprisingly complex lyric...I don't have Jack's gift for lyrical/poetic interepretation, but the pronouns seem decidedly shifty here, in patented Elvis fashion. It seems to me pretty clear that the entire lyric could be spoken by God Himself (the "he" referring to his son); or, more likely, that with the "Hall of Mirrors" verse the voice shifts from the divine to a human perspective. But note that it could also be the biblical I AM wandering that hall, having given up on us, echoing the conceit of 'God's Comic;' and that the dismissive final verse could be the voice of the divine confirming his utter disengagement from all things human, his retirement from being God. It's significant here that it's not "prophets" per se that offer false hope - but specifically phoney prophets. Or maybe all hope is false.

I think the Biblical implications are spot-on. And way beyond the obvious "He got hammered and nailed" (crucifixion), warnings of "false prophets," and the need to atone for sin.

Peter "betrayed" Christ by denying Him three times.

And the "He ran and hid" and "stoned" references come directly from the Gospel of St. John:

John 8:7
He said to them: "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."

John 8:59
They took up stones therefore to cast at him. But Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.

John 10:32
Jesus answered them: "Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of these works do you stone me?"

John 12:36
"Whilst you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light." These things Jesus spoke; and he went away, and hid himself from them.

I wonder, too if EC's "Poppies full of opium" is a gloss on the Karl Marx quote: "Religion is the opiate of the masses."

Who but EC is writing such songs today?

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Re: New album for 2013: "Wise Up Ghost" (with The Roots!)

Postby Jack of All Parades » Wed Oct 23, 2013 7:42 am

Wicked witch.jpg
Wicked witch.jpg (25.45 KiB) Viewed 4247 times


Some days I am more inclined to take my poppies this way instead of deriving them from old Karl- 'Poppies will soothe them' indeed!
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Re: New album for 2013: "Wise Up Ghost" (with The Roots!)

Postby sweetest punch » Wed Oct 23, 2013 2:21 pm

http://www.fastcocreate.com/3019974/mee ... laboration

Meet The Third Man: The Producer Who Orchestrated A Roots/Elvis Costello Collaboration

Steven Mandel, the co-producer of Elvis Costello and The Roots' Wise Up Ghost, on dream projects, guerrilla tactics, and the magic of mistakes

In the liner notes accompanying Wise Up Ghost (and Other Songs), the new collaboration between Elvis Costello and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon house band The Roots, Roots leader Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson saves his biggest thank you note for a name not usually seen in the spotlight, Steven Mandel.

"This was your dream project," Thompson writes to Mandel, his long-serving engineer and now co-producer. "You were the glue that kept this project alive and thriving…" Elsewhere, Costello adds that Mandel is "a fine judge of horseflesh, your detector is second to none, I can only say 'Thank you'. I thought it was over. It's never over."

And then there's the recent feature in Electronic Musician, where Costello praised Mandel's tireless efforts to "narrow the distance between our different perspectives of music," and for making sure that nothing was lost in translation.

"He kept us out of the danger that you can get into when you keep adding," said Costello. "You can lose intensity as you add, because the raw thing that you liked initially becomes buried. He’s very good at cutting stuff away. I think he’s done remarkable work.”

So, just who is this mysterious Mr. Mandel?

Speaking on the phone from the Roots' cramped rehearsal room and makeshift studio at Late Night, just steps down the hall from where Jimmy Fallon and The Roots will inherit The Tonight Show franchise next year, Mandel had just learned that Wise Up Ghost, on which he shares both producer and songwriter credits, had debuted on the Billboard 200, at #16. Good news surely, but his mood could nonetheless be best described as "cautiously optimistic."

"We sold something like 18,000 records first week," says Mandel, "but I don't know what those numbers really represent. I would have liked to have debuted in the Top Ten obviously, but this is still somewhat of an accomplishment. In fact, Elvis was saying it was his best first week since Brutal Youth or something. So, hopefully, it's one of those albums that people will continue to buy over time. A grower."

GHOST HUNTERS

Much has already been written about how Wise Up Ghost grew out of Costello's first appearance on Late Night, on November 20, 2009, when he and The Roots whipped up a fresh take on "High Fidelity," based on a one-off live version that Mandel had remembered and Costello himself had forgotten.

COOL FOR CATS

But according to Mandel, their actual first recording together was for a Squeeze tribute album, a pet project he has been working on for the past decade.

"That Squeeze tribute record started back in Philadelphia," says Mandel, "long before we got to Fallon. Eventually, Ahmir got more involved, drumming on some stuff and then, once we started working on Fallon, we had more access to a lot of these artists and every once in a while, if I thought somebody was right for that album, me or Quest would ask them to be on it."

Costello was invited to cover Squeeze's "Someone Else's Heart," which was only fitting as he had produced Squeeze's original version on their East Side Story album.

"So that was some full circle stuff for him," says Mandel. "But it was the first time I was in the studio with Elvis, recording his vocals, and thinking 'Oh my God!' and stuff like that. The session kind of established that Elvis was great with The Roots, live and also in the studio. So to me, that was sort of the impetus to say 'Okay let's do a full record.'"

With Mandel's dream coming true, he prayed it wouldn't become a nightmare. Citing Costello's Blood And Chocolate and King of America, both from 1986, as essential recordings, he knew that if he played his cards right, his name would be on the next one.

"There are a lot of people on my wish list of who could come to Late Night and sit in with The Roots," says Mandel, "but Elvis was always on my top five list, he has been such a big influence on me and my work in music. I always tell people that even if I was just the tracking engineer on this project it would have been the highlight of my career, but the most amazing thing to happen to me besides being a full co-producer is that I get co-writing credit with Elvis and Ahmir on 13 of the 15 songs."

THE TRANSLATOR

Wise Up Ghost seamlessly blends the seemingly diverse elements of the two names above the title. Naturally, Questlove's grooves and the Roots' collective virtuosity lend a new authenticity to the R&B sensibility that Costello has touched on from time to time over his 35 years of recording. And this year's model Elvis appears to be happily reacquainted with the snarky fury and caustic charm of his original records, confirming that after all this time, his aim is still true.

As the resident Costello aficionado, one of Mandel's jobs was to guide the two massive ships safely into port.

"I've worked with The Roots since 1997 and I've been listening to Elvis's music since 1984," says Mandel, "so I had this sort of vast experience with both entities. I think they were both happy to have me there as a bit of a translator. On the other hand, you always have to remember you're in the room with two geniuses, so to step forward and think that I'm somehow on par with these guys is delusional. On 999 of 1000 projects, Ahmir is calling all the shots, but on this one, he was a little out of his comfort zone."

From the very first session, Mandel was relieved to find that his hero "took a liking" to him right away.

"I suppose," says Mandel, "he respected the fact I had worked with Ahmir on D'Angelo's Voodoo album, one of Elvis's favorite albums of all time. Ahmir and Elvis gave me a lot of creative freedom, but keep in mind, rock and roll icons are people, too. They want to be told the truth, make it great and then go home. You have to be honest with them."

BREAKING BEATS

Although their initial impulse was to merely have The Roots pillage and refashion Costello's back catalogue, Mandel says they couldn’t resist "flipping older things until they became new things." Cooking up the basic components in their 30 Rock lab, wonderful accidents began to happen and in time some completely new music and lyrics had crystallized, such as the first single "Walk Us Uptown":

"It was kind of, Let's just keep fucking around and see if we can come up with something cool," says Mandel.

He points to the title song, "Wise Up Ghost" which began with a loop of "Can You Be True," which in turn inspired all new Costello lyrics, as an epiphany.

"It really occurred to me that, wow, these are new Costello lyrics, that's kinda cool too" Obviously, the opportunity to rework some of these old songs was so fun, but when I heard "Wise Up Ghost" I though maybe this is even more appealing, to me and probably to everybody else."

Mandel credits his 15 years working in hip-hop, and the "guerrilla style" recording techniques that he and Questlove favor, for guiding the deconstruction process. But he cautions that, no matter how much sampling, copying or pasting they do, the cornerstone of their approach remains live performance, particularly on Questlove's drum tracks.

BRILLIANT MISTAKES

"I mean some of it's chopped up and looped," says Mandel, "but a lot of those drum takes on the record are Ahmir playing straight through, the entire take of a song. "Come The Meantimes" is a live drum take, which seems sort of ironic to me because I think it was one of the most hip-hop songs on the record. And on "Wise Up Ghost" we had [Roots guitarist] Kirk [Douglas] playing the same thing over and over again, but instead of copying and pasting it, I had him play the entire six and a half minutes, just to get different things going on here and there because that's the biggest secret about making music; the genius is in the mistakes.

Costello also learned to flaunt the imperfections. He cut what he thought was a scratch vocal for "The Puppet Has Cut His Strings" straight into Apple GarageBand software on his laptop while sitting in his kitchen at home. The result was, says Mandel, technically flawed but "intimate and perfect" in execution.

"Me and Ahmir played it back," says Mandel, "and we were looking at each other thinking 'Jesus Christ, this is sick!' Elvis offered to come in and recut it, but I kind of got the feeling that he was also thinking what we were, that he wasn't gonna get it any better than he had it here already. This was the take, on that crappy computer microphone, so it just sounded otherworldly, the texture of it was so bad that it sounded like we did it intentionally to create a mood or something."

HOME TRUTH

Being stuck at 30 Rock all week meant that even if certain tracks were being flown in from remote locations like Los Angeles, Philadelphia or Vancouver, their tiny rehearsal room at Late Night became the hub of their guerilla recording experience. "Cinco Minutos Con Vos" was built on the intro to that "High Fidelity" cover from Costello's Late Night debut, while on "Viceroy's Row" they looped of the intro from a version of "Stations Of The Cross" recorded in their rehearsal room from his second appearance on the show.

ELVIS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING, FOR NOW

Mandel says that he could go on, but right now, The Roots are back and ready to rehearse another musical guest in their cramped musical closet. And while there's talk of a slightly bigger room when they become the Tonight Show next year, Mandel is adamant that, wherever they are, he and Questlove will continue their guerilla tactics. As to whether Costello will be involved, it's too early to say, but he does let it slip news of a "secret Elvis & The Roots song up my sleeve" and an unrelated, and unnamed, surprise planned for Record Store Day. Meanwhile, Mandel still can't believe what just happened.

"The best part of working with Elvis, besides him being such a great guy, was that he was ridiculously open to everything and candid, very polite, always on time and works quickly. You know, I always wanted to meet him as a fan, but I never even dreamed about working with him and writing songs with him. It's like Jacob's Ladder, I'm wondering exactly when I died and this is all some sort of a purging of my memory or something."
Since you put me down, it seems i've been very gloomy. You may laugh but pretty girls look right through me.

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Re: New album for 2013: "Wise Up Ghost" (with The Roots!)

Postby sweetest punch » Wed Oct 23, 2013 2:30 pm

http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero ... -and-roots

Digital duet

ELVIS COSTELLO, a British singer-songwriter, is known for his rock rants and intricate ballads. He has recorded with dozens of artists in various genres; he wrote a musical with Burt Bacharach, has sung duets with Anne Sofie Von Otter, a Swedish opera star, and has composed a song cycle with the Brodsky Quartet, a British string ensemble. His most recent project in musical shape-shifting involved teaming up with The Roots, an American hip-hop band, for "Wise Up Ghost", a category-defying album released in September. For Mr Costello, this latest collaboration is a natural by-product of the digital age.

"Every part of ‘'Wise Up Ghost'’ was recorded discrete from the other parts," he explains. "After I had recorded all of my vocals, they added their parts to that, almost as if they were scoring a film. The horns appeared, and guitar, and a monstrous double drum kit. No two instruments were played together, except the horns. It was written, recorded and arranged in dialogue between two or three people speaking in a chain."


The project began after one of Mr Costello’'s appearances on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon", an American television show for which The Roots perform as the house band. He says Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, the band's drummer and co-founder, piqued his interestwhen he made an obscure reference to Mr Costello's music as he was leaving the stage. Apparently the band "knew all about my records," he says, "and I knew quite a bit about theirs.”"

The recording of “"Wise Up Ghost"” happened in bits and pieces, over e-mail or in moments in the dressing room at NBC studios, where the Fallon show tapes. The music is a natural progression from The Roots’ 2011 concept album "Undun", and is Mr Costello'’s most exciting and satisfying foray in at least a decade. Neither rock'n'roll nor hip-hop, the album is cinematic and cerebral, funky and fussy, its sound carved by Mr Costello's clear-cut tenor and Questlove's percussive snare. The album might have benefitted from the rhymes of Roots MC Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter, but his rapping is oddly absent.

Mr Costello says "Wise Up Ghost" is influenced by tape-loop methods pioneered by Sir George Martin, who produced the Beatles albums in the 1960s. The songs, which steal verses from Mr Costello's back catalogue, are a cut-and-paste collage of lyrics, melodies, beats and strings. The lead track, "Walk Us Uptown", struts with the same sass as his 1977 song "Watching the Detectives".” The dreamy doo-wop of "Tripwire" grabs a glockenspiel from the intro of "Satellite" from his 1989 album Spike.

"You can only get this kind of sound with a switch," says Mr Costello. The music "borrows from a lot of the drop techniques in dub and hip-hop, and you obviously don't play that way [live] in a room with four musicians. You can get a thrilling result when you do, but you don't get this music."

Mr Costello does not have plans for a formal tour with The Roots. He also says he isn't seeking street credibility from the collaboration.

"Records are art objects, that is if you put anything you care about into them," he says. "They're not commerce. You're making them because you want to provoke interest in the ideas and the music that you've got. I'm not even attempting to be commercial now."

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Since you put me down, it seems i've been very gloomy. You may laugh but pretty girls look right through me.

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Re: New album for 2013: "Wise Up Ghost" (with The Roots!)

Postby Richard » Sat Oct 26, 2013 11:26 am

I haven’t posted in a while. Wise Up Ghost is a great motivator to move from lurker to contributor again.

My Elvis obsession started in 1981 with Trust. And every new album was treated as a major event. At least it was important amongst my circle of friends. Probably peaking in 1986 with the one two punch of King Of America And Blood And Chocolate.

What we have with National Ransom followed by Wise Up Ghost is a sequence of releases that in any other artist’s catalogue would be career defining.

Elvis’ first three to five years, the much-heralded 1977 to 1982 era, were defined as much by image and attitude as they were by the music.
It seems to stop anybody but the most devoted Elvis fans from realizing the last two releases are among the best of his long and storied career.

Don’t pine for the heady early days. Make sure you are aware you live through a time in Elvis’ career that any discerning music fan is going to look back on wishing they were in your shoes.

For his whole career Elvis has been able to re-shape and re-define his music on stage with new lyrics, melodies and tempos to old classics.

Wise Up Ghost’s re-working of classic Elvis lyrics in a while new context takes the live experiments and doubles down.

With the current trend of playing concerts of complete albums in original sequence note for note growing clichéd it is refreshing to see Elvis willing to acknowledge that his catalogue isn’t meant to be observed in a glass case. In his hands it lives, breathes and evolves.

‘This better be worth all of the breath I'm wasting.’

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Re: New album for 2013: "Wise Up Ghost" (with The Roots!)

Postby johnfoyle » Mon Oct 28, 2013 6:50 pm

'Wise Up Ghosts' - huh?

http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/ ... -bacharach


4:07 PM, October 28 2013

Elvis Costello Talks to Judd Apatow About Wise Up Ghosts, His Album with the Roots, and His Musical with Burt Bacharach

By Judd Apatow




Judd Apatow’s big career break happened while he was waiting in line for an Elvis Costello concert. That’s kind of a long story (read on to hear him tell it), but it’s just one of the many reasons Vanity Fair was so excited to match up these two creative powerhouses for a conversation pegged to Costello’s recent album, Wise Up Ghosts, and upcoming East Coast tour. The pair talked about Ghosts, the surprising similarities between the rocker and fellow musical scion Questlove, and Costello’s upcoming stage musical adaptation of Painted from Memory, his 1998 collaboration with Burt Bacharach.

Judd Apatow: So this is for VanityFair.com. I don’t know how, but lately I’ve been doing some interviews. I did Pearl Jam a month ago. So I’m doing a reverse Cameron Crowe career.

Elvis Costello: Well, that’s pretty good. As you know, I had something of that experience a few years ago when I had a TV show [the two-season interview series Spectacle]. The only reason some of those people let me in the door is because I did the same gig as they did. They were not so guarded as they may have been with an official interrogator. Plus, my evidently shambolic, amateurish technique as a broadcaster—it sort of worked in a peculiar way.

I loved that show. What were the highlights for you?

Smokey Robinson at the Apollo—you can’t really beat that. Getting 90 minutes into taping with Bruce Springsteen and realizing that we hadn’t left the Jersey bars yet, in terms of telling his story. We had to reload or take a break for technical reasons, and we said, ‘Will you stick around?’ When they say that on The Dick Cavett Show, they mean another 15-minute segment. I meant another 90 minutes. We ended up doing four hours or something.

When there is someone in the comedy world I admire, like Albert Brooks, I always try to find some way to collaborate with them and see what comes of it.

You sound like Questlove. He had plotted this “ambush,” as he used to call it, on the basis that I would come onto the Fallon show. That first performance with the Roots really set everything in train for this collaboration.

How is it working with Questlove?

People make a big noise about the collaborative aspect of it, because the surface appearances are the differences that they see at a glance. Despite all the obvious differences in our background—different generation, different location—we have these key similarities about our upbringing. We have a perception of the transference of music from the mundane to the magical in a split second, because it was our dads’ job. My friend’s parents came home at six, when my dad was leaving for the dance hall. And [Questlove] was traveling with his father when he was just a little kid . . . then doing technical things and, eventually, playing drums with him.

What are some moments from the new album you’re most proud of, personally?

Wise Up Ghosts is a lot of static coming in from the ways of the world, mixed up with something very personal, which was my father’s passing. Those images inside the song that describe his room in the nursing home in his last months. And then, in the very, very end of the record, they sent me another piece of music, which I sat at home and recorded sitting at my kitchen counter. This song, called “The Puppet Has Cut His Strings,” is a literal description of my father’s last days. I realized that [the Roots and I] traveled quite a long way in our work together. I had gone from assuming that we should speak with an outward-looking perspective to the world. And then, [at] the very end of the deluxe version of the record, there is this one song that is probably [one of] the most personal things that I’ve ever written.

I think it’s to Quest’s credit that, when I sent it to them from my computer and went to the studio the next day to record the vocal again, he wouldn’t let me do it. That’s the record. Just by sheer luck the little filtered recording of me singing all alone to my computer microphone happened to work on that one occasion. It wouldn’t work nine times out of ten, but it did for that song.

Your work is littered with little confessional elements, Judd, or terribly embarrassing things that happen to us in pursuit of our desires—both the little indignities and the big, massive, very funny ones as well. Do people constantly question you as to whether this really happened to you?

Leslie [Mann, Apatow’s wife] and I always debate if I’m describing the films as personal too much. How much should we say they’re fictional and how much should we say they’re based on real moments? It’s a soup.

It doesn’t make them funnier to say that they’re personal. That’s what I say about songs: it doesn’t make the songs better. There was a period of time with singer-songwriters, in the early 70s, where it felt that we were listening to the confessions of the people. Their lives were annotated in the magazines of the time, so you knew that this song was about such and such a person, or it was rumored that it was. And there was a lot of currency in that. But as time goes on and we get further away from it, if the songs speak to you it’s because it’s beautiful or it’s because it’s true.

I thought This Is 40 was very funny and very true about a certain type of mind-set—that thwarted desire and ambition. And that was great that you managed to get Graham [Parker], and that they were such good sports about being in it and being portrayed as not filling the club. In every other movie of that kind, they put on the show and it’s a big success and the fans sound like they’re at Madison Square Garden, even though they’re just in a club. This was truthful. It was truthful right down to the sound of it. I loved that.

I’ve become fascinated with all of the comedy people I’ve worked with for a long time and seeing the choices they make over decades. Some people do a lot of great work and then they just have to take a break for a while. What keeps you so engaged? It seems like you’re as excited as ever. You never had a down period.

For 16 years I didn’t take a holiday. The work has actually increased, if anything. I have no idea how to answer your question. It’s all been a terrific surprise to me, including this thing. I’m actually working right now. As soon as we finish, I’m going to work with Burt Bacharach.

Oh, my goodness.

There’s a scheme that Chuck Lorre has come up with to turn Painted from Memory into a musical. He’s a great fan of the record, and he and Steven Sater, who wrote Spring Awakening, have conceived a story which winds through a number of the songs from Painted from Memory. We’re trying to avoid the jukebox musical, which has a crushing predictability. There’s got to be some elements of surprise. So Burt and I were charged with writing a few songs to turn the dramatic corners of the story. There’s a lot of comedy and there’s a lot of singing and dancing. It’s essentially Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf with songs. It’s pretty dark stuff, but we’re hopefully injecting into it a little bit of pace here and there. We’ve written 12 songs in the last six days.

So Burt is just on fire. How old is he? Eighty-something?


Thirty-five? I don’t know.

You are always doing what you want to do. I’ve thought about that since the very beginning of my career. You were going where your passions led you. Sometimes it would be commercial and sometimes it wouldn’t, but there was this feeling that Elvis doesn’t care; he’s going to do what is exciting him right now, and it isn’t about selling 10 million records. For me, as a screenwriter, I thought about that all the time—the purity of vision. When we did things like Freaks & Geeks and would get bad notes from a network, in my head I would think, Elvis Costello wouldn’t change any of this for some nudnik who didn’t know what he was talking about.


I can’t even imagine the pitch meetings for Freaks & Geeks. But I’m so glad that you did get it done. It’s like me walking into the room and seeing Clover again and saying, We didn’t get to do any of the work but that one record, but none of the other things in my career could have existed if I hadn’t made that.

That’s right.

The thing you have to stick to is not so much your idea is better than theirs; it’s just, they’re not going to be there by the time you’ve completed your idea. They’re actually quite flimsy. Their idea is to not get fired. Our idea is: I’m going to do this whether you get in my way or not. It just is a bloody mindedness. I’m incredibly stubborn. And I’m also incredibly patient. You know, I will wait a long fucking time to do something. My father was a musician, and his father was a musician. But my other grandfather was a gas-main layer. He was a working guy. He was Protestant and very stubborn. I’m lucky that I come from two different sides of a family. One which thinks everything is possible, which I suppose is the artistic side. And the other side that just relentlessly goes to work every day until they fall down.

I think that kind of spirit of standing up for what you believe in and the humor in your music are some of the reasons why so many comedians are so fanatical about your work.

I’m delighted if my bloody mindedness or awkwardness in acquiescing to another’s agenda were in any way helpful to you or anybody else you know.

I’ll tell you a funny story. One of the most important moments in my career happened around 1990: I went with a friend, Dana Gould, to see the taping of you doing Unplugged.

Oh my god—you were at that? Wow. My last stand at MTV.

That’s right. I was waiting on line to get in, and in front of me was Ben Stiller, who had just moved to L.A. from New York. He had a show on MTV that didn’t succeed, and we started chatting, and we’d both heard HBO wanted a sketch show, and we said, “Hey, maybe we should kick one around.” And then we sold this show to HBO, which they sold to Fox. And that was the big break in my career: meeting Ben Stiller on line to your concert.


That’s so crazy. All while you’re watching somebody literally putting a gun to the head of their career on MTV. I had this giant beard, and I wouldn’t play any of the songs as arranged on the record. I was playing “The Other Side of Summer” in 6/8 or something. I was just in the most willful mood. I remember they came up to me and said, “You’ve got to play ‘Alison.’” And I was like, I don’t want to play it.

Well, thank you so much for your time. And I do mean it. You have just been a gigantic inspiration to me. I remember seeing you at the Wiltern and waiting at the backstage door in, like, ’89 or something, and you were super nice. I still have your autograph from that night.


Well, I’m glad I was.

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wardo68
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Re: New album for 2013: "Wise Up Ghost" (with The Roots!)

Postby wardo68 » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:56 am

My review is finally posted. Have at it and tell me why I'm wrong.

http://everybodysdummy.blogspot.com/201 ... ghost.html

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Otis Westinghouse
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Re: New album for 2013: "Wise Up Ghost" (with The Roots!)

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Wed Nov 13, 2013 6:32 pm

Good review. Agree with it by and large.
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earl satz
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Re: New album for 2013: "Wise Up Ghost" (with The Roots!)

Postby earl satz » Fri Nov 15, 2013 8:38 am

Remarkably, the deluxe cd, which I ordered on the Sunday before release from WOW, arrived today. :roll:

jardine
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Re: New album for 2013: "Wise Up Ghost" (with The Roots!)

Postby jardine » Fri Nov 15, 2013 11:26 am

all i can say is "WOW."

gald you finally got it, though....but, well, wow!

earl satz
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Re: New album for 2013: "Wise Up Ghost" (with The Roots!)

Postby earl satz » Fri Nov 15, 2013 11:32 am

It was back-ordered, but I think the fault lies mainly with the Greek post office which has been super slow lately.

Poor Deportee
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Re: New album for 2013: "Wise Up Ghost" (with The Roots!)

Postby Poor Deportee » Fri Nov 15, 2013 5:32 pm

I still don't get the lukewarm response hereabouts. Perhaps there is an impatience with the 'reworked" tracks. To my ear, "Refuse to Be Saved" and "Wake Me Up" are like revelations, so vastly superior to the original cuts as to practically be new songs. By contrast, "Stick Out Your Tongue" is indeed a bore, and so is "Grenade" - but then again, most albums have a duff track or two, including EC's supposedly impeccable "great" albums. Everything else still strikes me, basically, as pop gold; a sort of "Trust" for the new millennium. I don't know if it's a top-10 Costello album, but I wouldn't be shocked to find it knocking on the door of that rarified category.

"Walk Us Uptown," by the way, is a very incisive examination of what we expect from leaders, clearly a direct shot at Obama. I love the "will you walk us uptown if we promise not to run??" line - you know, don't expect too much, now.

Maybe people just don't like The Roots. I dunno. To me this is Elvis Costello revelling in a whole new sonic playground that (ironically) is closer in spirit to his "glory days" with The Attractions that anything he'd done in years. The lyrics are as good as ever- and as heartfelt - while the singing is utterly free of the tics and mannerisms that have so often marred his later work.

Thus, I remain a fan of this record, somewhat befuddled by the "mehs" of my fellow Costellophiles.
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Neil.
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Re: New album for 2013: "Wise Up Ghost" (with The Roots!)

Postby Neil. » Sat Nov 16, 2013 7:31 am

Poor Deportee wrote:I still don't get the lukewarm response hereabouts. Perhaps there is an impatience with the 'reworked" tracks... I remain a fan of this record, somewhat befuddled by the "mehs" of my fellow Costellophiles.


I agree with everything you've said. I don't like 'Stick Out Your Tongue' or 'Grenade', and I'm not particularly enamoured of 'Tripwire' - but the rest, I think, is wonderful, exciting and fresh.

Astounded at the lyrics, as ever. 'Come the Meantimes' appears to be sung from the point of view of Jesus Christ. Love the fact that the suicide bomber from 'Grenade' scuttles across the landscape of 'Wise Up Ghost' - a fleeting guest appearance. Moved by 'If I Could Believe'.

I'm still amazed he's come out with something that sounds this urgent and exciting at his age. I love all three bonus tracks, and I'm looking forward to any other extras that may emerge.

Well done, Elvis and the Roots - and Steve "that was the take" Mandel!

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Re: New album for 2013: "Wise Up Ghost" (with The Roots!)

Postby cwr » Sat Nov 16, 2013 9:07 am

Interesting.

"Refuse To Be Saved" feels like the equal, to me, of "Invasion Hit Parade."

"Stick Out Your Tongue" I have actually come to prefer over the original "Pills & Soap." I just like it better.


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