Elvis Costello With Burt Bacharach "Painted From Memory" Finally AAA

A heavenly pairing of Bacharach's suburban pop melodic intent and Costello's insightful lyrics that well-capture the required Bacharach late afternoon bedroom melodrama produced this 1998 gem of a soap operatic collaboration.

Yes, on one level the mind is programmed for and longs to hear Dionne Warwick crooning the regretful lyrics to "This House is Empty Now", but on the big crescendos Costello pulls it off with his stretchy, somewhat strained vibrato and sells the drama.Fans of Bacharach/David will find this an easy, tear-drenched fit and love every minute.

Labels these days hardly have the budgets for sumptuous productions like this one. There's a big string section, brass and woodwinds and of course Burt's grand piano too, most recorded and mixed by Kevin Killen at Oceanway and all of it to analog tape.

Then why did the original CD sound so congested, dry and tonally bleached? Do I have to answer that? If you're a fan of this on CD, your eyes will pop out of your head when you finally hear what's on the tape, beginning with Jim Keltner's rim shots on the opener that on the CD are buried and bleached.

"I'm not saying there will be violins but don't be surprised if they appear". What a great line from "Such Unlikely Lovers" and when they do on this superbly mastered record, even if for years you have enjoyed the CD, you will be surprised. In fact, there are sonic surprises throughout as buried instruments surface and shine. What a shame to have had these stellar arrangements underwater for so long.

That's all history now that we have this limited edition LP cut from the original analog tape. Bacharach fans rejoice. Fans of Costello's punkier days may have some trouble adjusting to the French horn melancholy and Bacharach's occasional Liberace flourish but not me! I love all of El's stuff and this one finally correctly presented is among his choice gems.

The sonic presentation is relatively dry and very intimate and rich drawn as you'd expect and hope for from a late afternoon Bacharach melodrama?

Limited to 3000 copies. History repeats the old conceits and when this one's gone it will be gone and you might live to regret not getting it, even if today the melodrama seems too thick (be prepared for some sloppy sibilants if your set-up is not precise and/or your cartridge can't handle the transients).

Music Direct Buy It Now

AnalogJ's picture

A couple of things Michael -

1) This is a largely quite densely orchestrated album with many instances of macro-dynamics - big sweeping musical, orchestral statements.

2) Each side is about 27 minutes. Not the greatest for really opening up sonically.

Yes, this LP is VERY impressive next to the CD. But, the first couple of cuts on each side is when you REALLY hear the potential for this medium for this album. As the needle progresses toward the inner groove, you can hear the sound getting a bit more clenched, a little less open. The songs near the inner groove don't nearly have the incredible sonic breadth that the songs have nearer the outside of the disc. (And perhaps my 9" VPI tonearm does't do the inside of the record as much justice as a 12" tonearm with Shibata stylus would).

Oh, how this album is so ripe for a 45rpm treatment, where every song could get the breathing space, and where a 54 minute disc wouldn't have to be compromised.

Still, anyone who is interested in this terrific, off-beat collaboration, get this LP. If MoFi ever does a 45rpm of this, I'll be on it. But

LCBIII's picture

This is my all time favorite recording, right now :) Sonically and musically; a times it can actually take your breath away. Music Direct is sold out but there Ebay sellers with sealed copies.

elmore244's picture

This is one of my favorite albums and I played the CD ad nauseum. When I came across the vinyl version about a month ago, I did not hesitate and ordered it immediately. I have not been disappointed. This is a wonderful treatment of this classic album and have no criticism other than it's too short! Sonically, it's one of the better MOFI albums I own. A big, big thumbs up!

Philt56's picture

I see a mofi sacd is scheduled. I wonder how it with compare with the vinyl. Amazon and other sites say the vinyl is backordered so I wonder if there will be any more prints made available?

AnalogJ's picture

When they state 3000 as their maximum number of pressings, it doesn't mean that they press them all at the same time. They can start with, hypothetically, 1000, and see how it goes. If there is demand, they can print more. But the maximum number is partly arrived at by the agreement between the record company and the reissuing company.

audiof001's picture

#532, so I'm quite happy.

Glotz's picture

and never warmed to it, despite having 98% of Elvis' recordings. Live in '83 Punch the Clock tour was my first, at 14. 4 of us teenagers almost got hit by a taxi in downtown Milwaukee when we saw Elvis' ruby red oxfords gleaming in the August sun! The look on his face was pure terror, though we didn't fear the slightest.. it was Elvis! He was super nice and easy going.

I think I need to revisit this sucker before it disappears.
Sounds like 'This offer is unrepeatable"..!