Acoustic Sounds

Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach

The Songs of Bacharach & Costello



Label: UMe

Produced By: Elvis Costello and Steve Berkowitz

Engineered By: Various

Mixed By: Various

Mastered By: Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering

Lacquers Cut By: Ryan K. Smith at Sterling Sound, Nashville

By: Michael Fremer

March 10th, 2023


Pop Pop Rock



A Box Set That Delivers Well Beyond the Expected Enhanced Version of the Classic Collaboration

A video review of a brilliantly curated and executed compilation

Rather than writing the usual written review of this extensive, well-produced and brilliantly curated set, I chose a video review to better show the box and associated records.

The set includes a double LP containing the Painted From Memory collaboration spread to 3 sides. Side 4 contains selected songs from the never fully realized Bacharach/Costello musical Taken From Life performed by various artists including Cassandra Wilson and Bill Frisell, Audra Mae and of course Bacharach and Costello.

There are also 4 CDs, one each for Painted... and Taken From Life. A 3rd CD titled Because It's a Lonely World—Live contains live collaborations between Costello and Steve Nieve recorded around the world. CD 4 features Bacharach songs Costello recorded throughout his career beginning with "I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself" from the 1977 release Live Stiff that signaled to fans of My Aim is True that this guy was not beholden to the "new wave/punk" image conjured up by his record company.

Brilliantly produced by Costello and Steve Berkowitz, with deluxe packaging and exceptional Bob Ludwig and Ryan Smith mastering. Well-pressed double LP either at GZ or Precision. Expect the usual side stories and anecdotes.

Music Specifications

Catalog No: B0036682-00

Pressing Plant: GZ Media


Speed/RPM: 33 1/3

Weight: 180 grams

Size: 12"

Channels: Stereo

Presentation: Box Set


  • 2023-03-11 04:28:47 PM

    Silk Dome Mid wrote:

    Doing this as a video works nicely. Thanks! Speaking of which, the keyboard player is Steve Nieve, not Steve Niece.

    • 2023-03-11 05:13:14 PM

      Michael Fremer wrote:

      Auto spell nonsense. Now fickst…

  • 2023-11-15 04:28:08 PM

    AnalogJ wrote:

    This may be in part due to system dependence, but A/B/C-ing the new set's vinyl, main album CD, and the MoFi vinyl, the MoFi vinyl wins. The tonality is better overall, and there's an ease of presentation that is mostly better than the new set. The glockenspiel sounds more like a real glockenspiel. The instruments sound richer and more real, more distinct in their own space in the soundstage with the MoFi. There's a good deal of bloom on the new vinyl, but there's MORE of it on the MoFi. The music breathes more easily via the MoFi.

    With the music being cut over three sides on the new one, you'd think there'd be a distinct advantage with the new one, but not necessarily so. For example, "This House Is Empty Now" occurs at the same place on each copy, AND they take up the same width of real estate. It's just that nothing comes after it on the new one. So the cutting engineer COULD have spaced out the music just a bit more. Starting Side 2, "My Thief" sounds bigger, richer, and more THERE on the MoFi. The female vocalist's voice at the end of the song is a bit richer and more harmonically complex.

    Overall, the new vinyl is on the bright side and thinner on top. Strings don't sound as sumptuous and there's a bit of stridency to the top end in my system. (And the CD of the main album played via my Rega Saturn has the same tonal characteristics).

    On "What's Her Name Today?", the dramatic cymbal at the end of the song shimmers with a harmonic complexity and has greater bloom. With the new one, it lacks the richness and remains more flat in the soundstage.

    The ONE cut that doesn't come off as well on the MoFi is "God Give Me Strength". Unlike Side 1 of the MoFi, which runs a respectable ~25 minutes, Side 2 stretches the real estate at 29 minutes, and this song doesn't breath or flow quite as easily as the new vinyl being cut up near the label. There's something really lovely about the way most of the MoFi comes off that has me want to listen more compared to the new one.

    For me, the main pull of the full set is the last three of the CDs, full of great other content related to the Painted From Memory and potential musical show that was considered, as well as other takes by Elvis Costello of Bacharach's work, most of it unavailable elsewhere. But for those who own the MoFi vinyl (either the standard or Supervinyl release) may find that the new vinyl is as good. What I'd really love is for MoFi to do the album cut at 45rpm.

    • 2023-11-15 09:02:45 PM

      AnalogJ wrote:

      Whoops. I meant to write in that next to last sentence that those who own the MoFi vinyl of this and hoping for the new one to be better may find that it isn't as good. The new one isn't bad, and if you don't have ANY of this material and you are a fan of Bacharach (and Costello), you may want to delve in. But I do think they overpriced this for what you get. (and both LPs in the new set were fairly warped and sounded so, though playable).