John Shearer/WireImageHis aim remains true, even if his own pocketbook becomes a target: Elvis Costello is throwing barbs at the record label releasing his upcoming live box set because of the inordinately hefty price tag it carries.
A post on Costello's website appropriately entitled "Steal This Album" (perhaps he's also a System of a Down fan) advises fans to steer clear of a 3-disc, 1 DVD, 1 vinyl record collection of a live concert in L.A. from April 2011.
Although he describes 'The Return Of The Spectacular Spinning Songbook' as a "beautifully designed compendium" that finds his backing band "the Imposters in rare form," Costello and Co. object to the $202.64 retail price.
"Unfortunately, we at www.elviscostello.com find ourselves unable to recommend this lovely item to you as the price appears to be either a misprint or a satire," the biting post declares, also opining that the price tag must be an "elaborate hoax."
"All our attempts to have this number revised have been fruitless," his site continues, but it promises Costello completists that these "items will be available separately at a more affordable price in the New Year, assuming that you have not already obtained them by more unconventional means."
Artist-label beefs have been going on for years (see The Clash's "Complete Control" for a vicious critique of the hand that feeds) but oftentimes the offended musician has something other than the fans' wallets on their mind.
In 2009 Morrissey asked devotees not to purchase reissues of solo and Smiths recordings, but that was partly because he wasn't going to see a dime from them. To Declan MacManus' credit, he seems to be urging people to ignore a release he would make a profit on. (Of course, more money is probably not a necessity at this point in his life.)
Helpfully and selflessly, Costello is directing holiday-purchasers (presumably lost and confused without a Costello-related product to put under the Christmas tree) toward one of the greatest collections of American music available.
No, not Justin Bieber's holiday album: Elvis recommends gifting the massive Louis Armstrong collection entitled 'Ambassador of Jazz' available for a relatively thrifty $149.99 (with only two left in stock, fans are apparently taking this advice to heart). Reminding us that Satchmo was "one of the most beautiful and loving revolutionaries who ever lived," elviscostello.com also admits that the jazz great still outclasses one of rock's most literate voices: "Frankly, the music is vastly superior."
Thanks for the tips, Elvis! You truly are this year's model citizen.