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Dangerous Amusements: the Elvis Costello playlist
57 minutes | Aug 30, 2022
Steve Mandel (part two)
In this second part of my conversation with producer and engineer, Steve Mandel, we chat about Wise Up Ghost, the album he created with Elvis Costello and The Roots. The record was released to critical acclaim in September 2013. It was produced by Costello, Questlove and Mandel, with Steve credited as a songwriter on all but one of the dozen tracks. In this episode, Steve talks us through Wise Up Ghost track-by-track. Check out the first part of our conversation to hear how Steve became a Costello fan, their first encounters and some of his favourite EC songs.
92 minutes | Aug 16, 2022
Steve Mandel (part one)
Steve Mandel is an audio engineer, producer and songwriter highly regarded for his work with The Roots. He first encountered his hero, Elvis Costello, while working on NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, on which The Roots were the house band. Steve suggested they perform an old arrangement of Costello’s High Fidelity and took a stash of albums for Elvis to sign. They would go on to collaborate on a variety of projects, from further performances on Fallon to Mandel-produced recordings of Costello’s interpretations of Squeeze’s Someone Else’s Heart and American Tune by Paul Simon. Most notably, Elvis, Steve and The Roots worked together on the acclaimed 2013 album, Wise Up Ghost. In this first part of our conversation, Steve tells me how he came to be a Costello fan, what it was like working together and how Elvis gave Steve his favourite day of his life.
50 minutes | Aug 2, 2022
Author and linguist Remedy Robinson hosts the brilliant Costello-themed podcast, Slow Drag With Remedy. Each episode is an “exploration and appreciation of the genius words, phrases and references found in each song credited solely to Mr Elvis Costello”. We chat about her love of Elvis’s lyrics and how that led to her launching the show. Remedy tells me how she became an EC fan, her favourite records and recounts her memorable meeting with the man himself.
76 minutes | Jul 22, 2022
My Aim Is True with Richard Crouse
22 July 2022 is the 45th anniversary of Elvis Costello’s acclaimed debut album, My Aim Is True. Married father-of-one, Declan MacManus, was a computer operator from London and a prolific aspiring songwriter. Signed to Stiff Records, MacManus cut his first professional album at Pathway Studios, backed by Clover and produced by Nick Lowe. He never looked back. In this special episode to mark 45 years of My Aim Is True, I’m joined by author, TV presenter and radio host, Richard Crouse. A lifelong Costello fan, Richard wrote the definitive book about EC’s debut album, Elvis is King, Costello’s My Aim Is True. We discuss the impact of the record, its place in the Costello canon and we go through the album track-by track.
54 minutes | Jul 5, 2022
Science fiction author, critic and academic, Professor Adam Roberts, has been an Elvis Costello fan since hearing Blood and Chocolate. Our conversation about his love of Elvis also takes in poetry, the philosophy of Hegel and sex dungeons. Adam has picked out six of his favourite Costello songs for this season’s playlist and you can read his 2022 article on EC here.
42 minutes | Jun 14, 2022
Sebastian Krys (part two)
In this second part of my conversation with producer Sebastian Krys, we chat about some of his favourite Elvis Costello songs. Sebastian picks out six Costello tracks for my playlist, including the recent song that stopped him dead in his tracks when Elvis sent him the demo. We also discuss some of the great EC gigs he's attended. Follow Dangerous Amusements on Twitter and Instagram. Visit my website for the playlists, previous episodes and some of my articles. If you're enjoying the show, please leave a five star rating and review.
76 minutes | May 31, 2022
Sebastian Krys (part one)
Sebastian Krys is a multiple Grammy and Latin Grammy-winning producer and engineer. He’s worked with an incredible array of great artists, including Gloria Estefan and Shakira, and has co-produced Elvis Costello’s records since 2018’s Look Now. In part one of this two-part conversation, Sebastian tells me about his career in music and his ongoing collaboration with Costello, which has yielded a series of acclaimed records. In the second part, Sebastian will pick out some of his favourite EC songs to add to my playlist.
70 minutes | May 17, 2022
BONUS - classic Costello covers
As well as being a brilliant and prolific songwriter, Elvis Costello is a master of interpreting songs written by other people. In this bonus episode of the podcast, we put aside our playlists and the usual format to focus on some of the great Costello covers. To do that, I’m delighted to welcome back to the show a director, podcaster and radio host: Theo Delaney. Theo and I each pick five EC cover versions to chat about. Let me know what you think of the performances we discuss in this episode and get in touch on Twitter to share your favourite Costello covers.
57 minutes | May 3, 2022
Author and music writer Libby Cudmore has been an Elvis Costello fanatic since being given a mix-CD containing Crimes of Paris. In this episode, Libby tells me how her love of Costello’s music has developed into an obsession and why you don’t want to be next to her at an EC gig. We chat about how Elvis’s music has inspired Libby’s work as a crime writer and she picks out five Costello tracks to complete the Ashtrays of Emotion playlist. You can find out more about Libby’s work on her website. Make sure you also check her out on the Shattered Shield and OST Party podcasts.
65 minutes | Apr 19, 2022
Music journalist and author Ian Winwood is an Elvis Costello obsessive. We chat about how his love of EC’s music began, the many and varied gigs he’s been to and why a Costello song was the soundtrack to his wedding day. Ian also picks out five of his favourite Elvis songs to add to my Ashtrays of Emotion playlist. We also talk about Ian’s terrific new book, Bodies: Life and Death in Music, in which he explores the impact of working in the music industry.
51 minutes | Apr 5, 2022
Pam Thurschwell is an academic, author and self-confessed “Costello trainspotter”. She tells me how early Costello songs like Green Shirt put their fingerprints on her teenage imagination, leading to a lifelong love of Elvis’s music. We discuss the articles Pam has had published about EC’s music and revisit some of the many Costello gigs she’s been to, including a memorable performance alongside her other musical hero, Bob Dylan. Plus, Pam reveals why Elvis described her as “very observant”. The playlist for this season, including Pam’s song choices, will be published at the end of the series.
50 minutes | Dec 21, 2021
I’m joined by Neal Davies for the final episode of 2021. Neal tells me about the book he’s writing about Elvis Costello in the mid-‘80s: King of America, Blood and Chocolate, the pseudonyms and the questions of identity. We chat about his interview with Bruce Thomas and show some love to Goodbye Cruel World. Along the way, Neal recalls the dozens of EC gigs he’s been to – including a backstage visit to see the Imposters in New York – and picks five of his favourite songs for this season’s playlist. Follow Dangerous Amusements on Twitter and Instagram and check out my website.
58 minutes | Dec 7, 2021
Composer and musician Chris Mercer joins me to talk about the music of Elvis Costello. Chris recalls buying his first Costello album and how it completely changed his musical standards. We explore the “intricate, dense” lyrics of the EC songbook and why Chris considers Elvis to be one of the great melodists of our time. The host of the brilliant Take It Away: The Complete Paul McCartney Archive Podcast, Chris tells me about his favourite McCartney/MacManus compositions and we discuss the tracks that got away. Make sure you check out Chris’s own music and the Take It Away back catalogue. Follow Dangerous Amusements on Twitter and Instagram and visit my website for my episodes, playlists and articles.
43 minutes | Nov 23, 2021
As a member of the TKO Horns, Geoff Blythe toured with Elvis Costello and the Attractions and performed on several tracks on the 1983 album, Punch the Clock. Geoff tells me about the sessions, going on the road with the Attractions and recording the promo video for Let Them All Talk. Along the way, Geoff recalls recording with Nick Lowe and Allen Toussaint and an encounter with Yoko Ono’s bodyguard at an album party. A founding member of Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Geoff has also performed with Geno Washington, The Bureau, The Neighborhood, Black 47 and GI Blythe. His latest release is I Need a Sunny Day, his second album with the Samsonite Gypsies. Visit the Dangerous Amusements website.
57 minutes | Nov 9, 2021
What a treat it was to catch up with award-winning author and former UK Home Secretary Alan Johnson to talk about his love of Elvis Costello’s music. An EC fanatic since hearing (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes, Alan tells me why he feels such an affinity with the man he credits with his personal lifetime achievement award. We chat about some of Alan’s favourite Costello songs and the tape of his own compositions that he sent to Elvis in 1982. He still awaits a reply. After releasing four critically-acclaimed volumes of his memoirs, Alan released his first novel in September 2021. Find out more on his website. A former postman and trade unionist, Alan Johnson was a Labour MP for 20 years, serving in the cabinets of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in roles including Home Secretary. A keen guitarist and songwriter, in his youth Alan performed in The Area and The In-Betweens.
57 minutes | Oct 26, 2021
Kitten Kuroi is a singer, songwriter and activist who has performed live with Elvis Costello and the Imposters on a number of tours. She also recorded vocals for the 2018 album, Look Now, which won a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album at the 62nd Grammy Awards. Kitten tells me about her earliest musical influences and how she came to Elvis’s attention for the Imperial Bedrooms and Other Chambers tour in 2016. She gives us fascinating insights into recording and touring with Elvis and picks some of her favourite Costello songs for our playlist. Our conversation also takes in Austin Powers, catsuits and the Spice Girls… Visit my Dangerous Amusements website for previous episodes of the podcast, playlists compiled by my guests, plus some of my articles.
61 minutes | Jul 6, 2021
Legendary music PR Glen Colson worked on Elvis Costello’s record releases and tours in the late-1970s. Glen tells me all about those early days – the stunts, the arrests, the tours and the music. We chat about life at Stiff Records and the assorted cast of characters Glen’s encountered during his career, including Ian Dury, Nick Lowe and Syd Barrett. Glen’s also added five songs to our Dragging the Lake playlist. Glen has published a fantastic memoir, called Nefarious. It’s a terrific read and you can buy a copy by emailing Glen directly. Find out more about the book on Glen Colson’s website.
57 minutes | Jun 22, 2021
Georg Purvis is the author of On Track: Elvis Costello and the Attractions. Having previously published books on Pink Floyd and Queen, Georg explores every song and album recorded by Costello between 1977 and 1986. In this episode, Georg tells me about writing the book and his own experiences as an Elvis Costello fan. He picks five of his favourite EC tracks for our playlist, including the song that moved him to tears when he first heard it.
58 minutes | Jun 8, 2021
Artist and painter WS Cranmore is my first transatlantic guest on the podcast. skOt recalls hearing Elvis Costello’s music for the first time and tells me how one of EC’s songs changed his life. We discuss Costello’s album artwork and the key to creating a memorable LP or single sleeve. skOt also tells me of his shock when Elvis got in touch to buy one of his paintings… Check out the playlist of Costello songs put together by my guests in this second season of the podcast.
59 minutes | May 25, 2021
Music journalist Paul Stokes (NME, Q, MOJO, BBC Radio 6 Music) takes us on a trip down Rocking Horse Road as we talk about his love of Elvis Costello’s music. We chat about the Costello record that changed his life and look back at some of the many Elvis gigs he’s been to over the years. Paul tells us about his experiences of interviewing EC for different music magazines and producing an appearance on BBC Radio 6 Music. And, of course, Paul picks out five gems from Costello’s catalogue for our Dragging the Lake playlist. Check out Paul’s website to read some of his articles about Elvis.
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