THE JULIET LETTERS

ORIGINAL ALBUM (62:50)
  1. Deliver Us (0:48)
  2. For Other Eyes (2:54)
  3. Swine (2:05)
  4. Expert Rites (2:22)
  5. Dead Letter (2:18)
  6. I Almost Had A Weakness (3:52)
  7. Why? (1:24)
  8. Who Do You Think You Are? (3:25)
  9. Taking My Life In Your Hands (3:17)
  10. This Offer Is Unrepeatable (3:11)
  11. Dear Sweet Filthy World (4:16)
  12. The Letter Home (3:08)
  13. Jacksons, Monk And Rowe (3:42)
  14. This Sad Burlesque (2:46)
  15. Romeo's Seance (3:29)
  16. I Thought I'd Write To Juliet (4:06)
  17. Last Post (2:24)
  18. The First To Leave (4:57)
  19. Damnation's Cellar (3:25)
  20. The Birds Will Still Be Singing (4:27)
BONUS DISC (74:29)
  1. She Moved Through The Fair (4:44)
  2. Pills And Soap (live) (4:37)
  3. King Of The Unknown Sea (live) (3:51)
  4. Skeleton (live) (4:54)
  5. More Than Rain (live) (3:23)
  6. God Only Knows (live) (3:58)
  7. They Didn't Believe Me (live) (3:59)
  8. O Mistress Mine John Harle with Elvis Costello (4:03)
  9. Come Away, Death John Harle with Elvis Costello (4:27)
  10. Put Away Forbidden Playthings (live) Elvis Costello & Fretwork (4:12)
  11. Can She Excuse My Wrongs (live) Elvis Costello, Fretwork & Composers Ensemble (4:03)
  12. Fire Suite 1 Roy Nathanson with Cyrus Chestnut & Elvis Costello (5:27)
  13. Fire Suite 3 Roy Nathanson with Elvis Costello (3:19)
  14. Fire Suite Reprise Roy Nathanson with Elvis Costello (2:36)
  15. Gigi (live) Elvis Costello & Bill Frisell (4:14)
  16. Deep Dead Blue (live) Elvis Costello & Bill Frisell (3:45)
  17. Upon A Veil Of Midnight Blue (live) Elvis Costello & The Punishing Kiss Band (4:34)
  18. Lost In The Stars (3:56)
The 2001 Billboard article announcing Rhino's reissue program reported that The Juliet Letters "might be issued with" what reissue co-producer Gary Stewart described as "something that collects a lot of his artier things, records he did with the Jazz Passengers, things that reflect a jazz and classical flavor." I had previously speculated that this could refer to a separate album that would be released at the same time as The Juliet Letters. Even if that had been true at one time, it appears that by 2006 the "artier things" collection (also known within Rhino as "The Art Record") and The Juliet Letters bonus disc were the same project.

Nine of the bonus disc's 18 songs are collaborations with the Brodsky Quartet (including "Upon A Veil Of Midnight Blue," which incorporates the quartet into a larger ensemble), while the other nine are seemingly unrelated works "that reflect a jazz and classical flavor." (A few, however, offer some intriguing connections to William Shakespeare, who indirectly inspired The Juliet Letters and is referenced in the album's title and some of its songs. "O Mistress Mine" and "Come Away, Death" are adapted from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, while "Can She Excuse My Wrongs" was written by John Dowland, a composer in Shakespeare's time.)

Despite Stewart's comment in Billboard about "records he did with the Jazz Passengers," the disc surprisingly does not include "Aubergine" and "Doncha Go 'Way Mad" from the Jazz Passengers' 1997 album Individually Twisted. It does, however, include three songs credited solely to Jazz Passengers leader Roy Nathanson but featuring several other members of the group as accompanists. Perhaps that is what Stewart meant all along.

Six songs on the bonus disc are previously unreleased, all of them live recordings from the 1995 Meltdown festival, for which Elvis served as artistic director.

WHAT'S NEW

PILLS AND SOAP (LIVE, LONDON, JUN. 28, 1995)
Paul Cassidy's arrangement of "Pills And Soap" has featured regularly in Costello/Brodsky concerts since January 1995.

KING OF THE UNKNOWN SEA (LIVE, LONDON, JUN. 28, 1995)
SKELETON (LIVE, LONDON, JUN. 28, 1995)
This is the first official release in any form for these two songs. "King Of The Unknown Sea" was written by Costello (lyrics) and Michael Thomas (music) after the completion of The Juliet Letters and premiered on the 1993 tour promoting the album. "Skeleton" was written by Michael Thomas alone and first performed in January 1995. Both songs disappeared from the Costello/Brodsky concert repertoire after Michael Thomas left the Brodsky Quartet in the late '90s. (Elvis writes in his liner notes that "King Of The Unknown Sea" was "recorded at a soundcheck," but that is incorrect.)

PUT AWAY FORBIDDEN PLAYTHINGS (LIVE, LONDON, JUL. 1, 1995) Elvis Costello & Fretwork
CAN SHE EXCUSE MY WRONGS (LIVE, LONDON, JUL. 1, 1995) Elvis Costello, Fretwork & Composers Ensemble
Elvis wrote "Put Away Forbidden Playthings" especially for the "pre-classical" viol consort Fretwork and countertenor Michael Chance to perform at a 1995 concert commemorating the 300th anniversary of the death of English composer Henry Purcell (1659-1695). Four months later at Meltdown, Elvis sang the song himself accompanied by Fretwork, and that performance is heard here. (Additionally, Fretwork and Chance recorded a version in 1996 released on the 1997 album Sit Fast. Costello's 2004 performance with the Metropole Orkest was released on My Flame Burns Blue in 2006.) "Put Away Forbidden Playthings" is based on the works of both Purcell and an even earlier English composer, John Dowland (1563-1626). "Can She Excuse My Wrongs" is a Dowland composition, and this was Elvis' first public performance of the song.

UPON A VEIL OF MIDNIGHT BLUE (LIVE, LONDON, JUN. 28, 1995) Elvis Costello & The Punishing Kiss Band
Among Elvis' performances at Meltdown was the two-part Punishing Kiss concert. The first half had Costello and the Brodsky Quartet playing highlights from their standard concert repertoire and is represented by three songs on the bonus disc. The second half was more unusual in terms of song selection and featured the backing of the Punishing Kiss Band, a one-off collective of the Brodsky Quartet joined by seven additional musicians: Roy Babbington on double bass, Pete Whyman on bass clarinet, Ruth Causey on clarinet, Andy Panayi on flute, Guy Barker on trumpet, and Paul Pritchard and Michael Thomson on horns. This was Elvis' first public performance of "Upon A Veil Of Midnight Blue," a song with a complicated history. Elvis wrote it especially for Charles Brown, but Brown's 1992 recording (issued under the song's original title, "I Wonder How She Knows") was so loose an adaptation that Brown was justifiably listed as the song's co-writer. Costello subsequently offered the original composition to Mary Coughlan, who released a much more faithful version (now retitled "Upon A Veil Of Midnight Blue") in 1993. Although Elvis has yet to release his own studio recording of the song, this is his third live version to be released officially: A June 18, 1996 performance appears on the 1997 video A Case For Song, while a July 9, 2004 performance can be found on the 2006 CD My Flame Burns Blue.

WHAT'S OLD

SHE MOVED THROUGH THE FAIR
Elvis and the Brodsky Quartet had played this arrangement of "She Moved Through The Fair" in concert in Boston on St. Patrick's Day 1993. This version was recorded at Whitfield Recording Studios in February 1994 for the Brodsky Quartet's otherwise Elvisless album Lament. It can also be found on the Brodsky "best of" collection Elegie.

MORE THAN RAIN (LIVE, NEW YORK, MAR. 18, 1993)
GOD ONLY KNOWS (LIVE, NEW YORK, MAR. 18, 1993)
THEY DIDN'T BELIEVE ME (LIVE, NEW YORK, MAR. 18, 1993)
Following the release of The Juliet Letters, Elvis and the Brodsky Quartet embarked on a short tour during which they performed the entire album in order, followed by an extended encore sequence. The exact set list varied slightly from show to show, but in New York the encores consisted of eight songs: the newly written Costello/Michael Thomas composition "King Of The Unknown Sea," Tom Waits' "More Than Rain," Elvis' own "Almost Blue," Brian Wilson and Tony Asher's "God Only Knows," Jerome Kern and Herbert Reynolds' "They Didn't Believe Me," reprises of both "I Almost Had A Weakness" and "Jacksons, Monk And Rowe" from The Juliet Letters, and Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson's "Lost In The Stars." A CD drawn from these encores, appropriately entitled Encores, was scheduled for release in the summer of 1993. There is some confusion as to whether this CD would have included all eight songs or possibly only seven of them (the most likely omission being "Jacksons, Monk And Rowe"), but in any event the Encores CD was never released. Instead, the concept was scaled back to the four-song promo-only CD Live At New York Town Hall featuring the three songs listed above plus one not included on the bonus disc, "I Almost Had A Weakness." The applause after each song fades much more quickly on the Rhino CD.

O MISTRESS MINE John Harle with Elvis Costello
COME AWAY, DEATH John Harle with Elvis Costello
These tracks originally appeared on John Harle's 1996 album Terror And Magnificence as part of the 17-minute four-song "Mistress Mine" sequence, in which Elvis sings the words of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night accompanied by Harle's music. The complete "Mistress Mine" sequence includes a third song sung by Elvis, "When That I Was And A Little Tiny Boy," which is not included here, and the instrumental "Illyria," which does not feature any Elvis involvement. The entire piece was recorded November 3 and 4, 1995 at Abbey Road, while Elvis was taking a break from the All This Useless Beauty sessions.

FIRE SUITE 1 Roy Nathanson with Cyrus Chestnut & Elvis Costello
FIRE SUITE 3 Roy Nathanson with Elvis Costello
FIRE SUITE REPRISE Roy Nathanson with Elvis Costello
These three songs originally appeared on Fire At Keaton's Bar & Grill, the 2000 solo album from Jazz Passengers saxophonist Roy Nathanson. The album is intended to tell a story, with various guest singers providing the voices of the story's characters. Elvis plays the part of Singleton the narrator, and these songs represent the entirety of his contribution. The backing tracks were recorded without Elvis' involvement, with his vocals added separately. Rhino has created a fadeout to end "Fire Suite 1." On the original album it segued directly into "Fire Suite 2," a song which does not feature Elvis.

GIGI (LIVE, LONDON, JUN. 25, 1995) Elvis Costello & Bill Frisell
DEEP DEAD BLUE (LIVE, LONDON, JUN. 25, 1995) Elvis Costello & Bill Frisell
The only Meltdown recordings to be released in the immediate aftermath of the festival were the seven songs that made up Costello and Frisell's Deep Dead Blue EP, which was released in the UK a mere seven weeks after the performance. (It was not issued in the US.) There are no plans to reissue this CD in its entirety, but two of its songs — Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's "Gigi" and the otherwise unrecorded Costello/Frisell original "Deep Dead Blue" — appear on the bonus disc.

LOST IN THE STARS
"Lost In The Stars" had featured regularly in their 1993 concerts, and Elvis and the Brodsky Quartet reteamed to record this version January 20, 1994 at Toronto's Glenn Gould Studio. It was specifically intended for the September Songs — The Music Of Kurt Weill film, which was broadcast in 1996, with the soundtrack album following in 1997.

WHAT'S MISSING (RELEASED RECORDINGS)

I ALMOST HAD A WEAKNESS (LIVE, NEW YORK, MAR. 18, 1993)
    [Live At New York Town Hall promo CD]
A regular feature of The Juliet Letters tour was a reprise of "I Almost Had A Weakness" during the encores. Although this performance was included on the promo-only Live At New York Town Hall CD, it was not included on the bonus disc. This appears to be the result of a conscious decision by the reissue producers not to repeat any of the songs from the main album on the bonus disc. (The Juliet Letters is in fact the only of the Rhino reissues to bear that distinction.)

WHEN THAT I WAS AND A LITTLE TINY BOY John Harle with Elvis Costello
    [Terror And Magnificence album by John Harle]
Elvis sings three songs on John Harle's album Terror And Magnificence. The other two appear on the bonus disc, but this one does not.

WEIRD NIGHTMARE (LIVE, LONDON, JUN. 25, 1995) Elvis Costello & Bill Frisell
    [Deep Dead Blue EP]
LOVE FIELD (LIVE, LONDON, JUN. 25, 1995) Elvis Costello & Bill Frisell
    [Deep Dead Blue EP]
SHAMED INTO LOVE (LIVE, LONDON, JUN. 25, 1995) Elvis Costello & Bill Frisell
    [Deep Dead Blue EP]
POOR NAPOLEON (LIVE, LONDON, JUN. 25, 1995) Elvis Costello & Bill Frisell
    [Deep Dead Blue EP]
BABY PLAYS AROUND (LIVE, LONDON, JUN. 25, 1995) Elvis Costello & Bill Frisell
    [Deep Dead Blue EP]
These are the remaining songs from the Deep Dead Blue EP. An eighth song, "Poisoned Rose," was also performed at the concert but has never been officially released.

WHAT'S MISSING (UNRELEASED & UNRECORDED)

ALMOST BLUE (LIVE)
SCARLET RIBBONS (LIVE)
FAVOURITE HOUR (LIVE)

The concert repertoire for Elvis Costello and the Brodsky Quartet was relatively limited during the 1992-1997 period (in large part due to the fact that most of their concerts included the entirety of The Juliet Letters, which left little time for other selections). The vast majority of their songs are included on the reissue in either studio or live renditions. Of the few songs omitted, "Almost Blue" is the most curious, since it was performed regularly at Costello/Brodsky concerts during this period, and the March 18, 1993 performance was once scheduled for release on the Encores CD. "Scarlet Ribbons" (the Evelyn Danzig/Jack Segal-penned song associated with Harry Belafonte and the Browns, among others) and "Favourite Hour," however, were rarely performed, and it is conceivable that they were never professionally recorded.

HAVING IT ALL (LIVE) Elvis Costello & The Punishing Kiss Band
PUNISHING KISS (LIVE) Elvis Costello & The Punishing Kiss Band
These are just two of the most interesting songs from Elvis' June 28, 1995 set with The Punishing Kiss Band, which is represented by just one song on the bonus disc. "Having It All" has only been released in demo form (on the King Of America bonus disc). "Punishing Kiss" is a song Elvis and Cait O'Riordan wrote for Annie Ross which has yet to be officially released in an Elvis-sung version (although a demo does exist). Also performed: "The Long Honeymoon," "New Lace Sleeves," "Almost Blue," "London's Brilliant Parade,""Lost In The Stars," "Shipbuilding," and "Favourite Hour," plus an instrumental "Stalin Malone" performed without Elvis.

ADDITIONAL NOTES

Elvis recorded piano-based demos for at least some of the songs on The Juliet Letters. These are especially likely to include the five songs he wrote on his own ("Deliver Us," "Expert Rites," "I Thought I'd Write To Juliet," "The First To Leave," "Damnation's Cellar," and "The Birds Will Still Be Singing"), but they could include others as well.

Elvis' more recent work with the Brodsky Quartet (notably "My Mood Swings" and "Real Emotional Girl") will eventually be discussed on a page devoted to North. It may be worth noting that in the late '90s, Elvis changed record labels around the same time the Brodsky Quartet changed its lineup (Michael Thomas was replaced by Andrew Haveron), and either of both of these factors may have prevented their more recent recordings from being included on this release.

Other previously released songs that could have fit the "artier things" concept but have no direct connection to The Juliet Letters include:

"Aubergine" and "Doncha Go 'Way Mad," collaborations with the Jazz Passengers from their 1997 album Individually Twisted. (These are discussed on the All This Useless Beauty page.)

"May 17th," the brief guitar instrumental released in 1993 on the CD accompanying the Ferrington Guitars book. (Discussed on the Mighty Like A Rose page.)

"A Town Called Big Nothing" and "Return To Big Nothing," both from the 1987 single by The MacManus Gang. Although seemingly more of a goof than an attempt at "artiness," these lighthearted tracks may not be entirely out of place on this collection, and Elvis did claim in 2002 that "'Big Nothing' will appear on a future release." (Discussed on the Blood & Chocolate page.)

"Weird Nightmare" and "They Can't Take That Away From Me," both previously released covers which did not make the Kojak Variety bonus disc.

If the recordings with a "classical flavor" included music composed by Costello but performed by others, that would have opened the door to four pieces premiered at Meltdown that remain unreleased in any form: "The Trouble With Dreams" and "Malicious Observer" sung by Mary Wiegold, "Punctured Dreams" sung by Patricia Rozario, and "Edge Of Ugly" performed by the London Philharmonic. Of a similar vein but not from Meltdown  is "Three Distracted Women," a song cycle written by Elvis and performed by Anne Sofie von Otter and the Brodsky Quartet in 1996. (Elvis did release his own version of one of the three songs, "Speak Darkly, My Angel," on My Flame Burns Blue.) It would have been a bit awkward for these compositions to appear on the same disc as Elvis' own performances, but it seems extremely likely that Costello would eventually like for these pieces to find a home somewhere.


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