Elvis Costello’s next release will be an album recorded in Memphis.
A digital-only collection out November 25, The Boy Named If (Alive at Memphis Magnetic) features 11 tracks, all but one of which were recorded live in the studio by Elvis Costello and his longtime band The Imposters . at Scott McEwen’s Memphis Magnetic Recording Co. on Vance Avenue.
The recordings – including Costello originals and covers of songs by the Beatles (“Here, There and Everywhere”), the Rolling Stones (“Out of Time”), the Byrds (“So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star “), Nick Lowe (“Truth Drug”) and Paul McCartney (“Let Me Roll It” from the album “Band on the Run”) – recorded in October 2021 and May 2022 when Costello and the Imposters were rehearsing for touring at the Memphis Magnetic in support of Costello’s album The Boy Named If, which was released in January.
The first tour kicked off at Graceland’s Soundstage on October 13, 2021, which explains why the band rehearsed in Memphis in the first place. The day before, Costello visited WEVL-FM 89.9, a nonprofit community radio station in South Main, for the radio debut of his new single, “Magnificent Hurt.”
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In an essay on the new EMI/Capitol release, Costello writes, “When The Imposters and I walked into Memphis Magnetic Studio in October 2021, it was the first time we’ve come face-to-face or side-by-side while playing songs from The Boy Named If. This album had been recorded in late 2020 in our respective hideouts and closets under the stairs via “electric wire”, but now we were in Memphis under the guise of rehearsing for our first full tour since the end of the world in March 2020. Now we’ve been on the Soundstage at Graceland three days after the premiere, but what better way to prepare than to play some of your favorite songs while you negotiate the trickier angles in our new tunes.”
Citing the Memphis-based band’s good faith, Costello added that drummer Pete Thomas, a longtime Costello collaborator with both the Imposters and their predecessor band Attractions, “once jumped a fence to pick up a brick from the demolition site of the band to the original Stax Studios building He said to all the musicians with a faltering groove in his own basement studio… ‘This brick belonged ‘(Sittin’ On) the Dock Of The Bay’.”
As the title suggests, The Boy Named If (Alive at Memphis Magnetic) is something of a companion album to earlier The Boy Named If: the Costello originals included on the Memphis album are live-in-studio Interpretations of songs that debuted in more elaborate form on the studio set. The exception is a remix of Japanese female rap duo chelmico’s “Magnificent Hurt,” which Costello describes as “a complete re-model” of the song (can a remix album titled “This Year’s Re-Model” lag far behind? ) .
Costello concludes his essay by promising more material from Memphis to come. Recalling his rehearsals at the Memphis Magnetic, he writes, “That evening I returned to my room at the Peabody Hotel and over the next three nights I heard seven new songs pounding the walls… but that’s a story for another day… “
The Boy Named If (Alive at Memphis Magnetic) track listing.
- “Magnificent Hurt” (Elvis Costello)
- “Truth Drug” (Nick Lowe)
- “Penelope Halfpenny” (Costello)
- “So you want to be a rock ‘n’ roll star” (Jim McGuinn/Chris Hillman)
- “What if I can’t give you anything but love?” (Kostello)
- “The Boy Called If” (Costello)
- “Let Me Roll” (Paul McCartney/Linda McCartney)
- “Every day I write the book” (Costello)
- “Out Of Time” (Mick Jagger/Keith Richards)
- “Here, There and Everywhere” (Paul McCartney)
- “Magnificent Hurt” remix (Costello/chelmico)