Costello is the stage name of self-taught songwriter Declan MacManus.
He first performed in public in 1969, and began his recording
career in 1976 with the making of the album 'My Aim Is True'.
Since then, he has made more than a dozen albums, mostly comprised
of original compositions. These include: 'This Year's Model,'
'Armed Forces,' 'Get Happy,' 'Imperial Bedroom,' 'King Of America,'
'Blood And Chocolate,' 'Spike,' 'Mighty Like A Rose,' 'Brutal
Youth,' and 'Kojak Variety'.
Between 1977 and 1985, Costello recorded and toured almost exclusively
with his band The Attractions. Between 1986 and 1993, he performed
as a solo artist and led touring ensembles such as The Rude 5.
Many of Costello's 300 or so songs have been recorded by other
artists. The list of performers reflects his interest in a wide
range of musical styles: Chet Baker, Johnny Cash, June Tabor,
Roy Orbison, Roger McGuinn, Charles Brown, George Jones, The Composer's
Ensemble and Blur, among others. In addition, Costello has written
with his wife Cait O'Riordan, Paul McCartney and Richard Harvey,
with whom he collaborated on the BAFTA award-winning score for
Alan Bleasdale's British television series G.B.H. He has recently
worked with Richard again on the score of Alan Bleasdale's acclaimed
series 'Jake's Progress'.
In 1992, Costello began his collaboration with the Brodsky Quartet.
'The Juliet Letters,' a song sequence for string quartet and voice,
was followed by a highly successful world tour. In 1995, he completed
a new composition for the viol group Fretwork and the counter
tenor Michael Chance, as part of the South Bank Centre's Fretwork
Fantasy project in commemoration of the Tercentenary of the death
of Henry Purcell. Put Away Forbidden Playthings was premiered
at The Purcell Room in March '95.
As a record producer, Costello has worked with The Specials, Squeeze
and The Pogues; as a guest vocalist, he contributed to Hal Wilner's
Weird Nightmare (a celebration of the music of Charles Mingus)
and has recorded and performed with, among others, T Bone Burnett,
Sam Moore, Bob Dylan, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Neil Young,
The Chieftains and The Count Basie Orchestra. In 1994, he was
a guest vocalist on the Grammy Award-wiming record MTV Unplugged
by Tony Bennett.
In June 1994, Costello acted in a new role as Artistic Director
of the South Bank's Meltdown Festival. He performed once again
with The Brodsky Quartet, and also with The Jazz Passengers. The
recording of his debut performance with guitarist Bill Frisell
sold out on the limited edition Nonesuch Records release, Deep
Dead Blue. This festival also included the premiere of Costello's
Edge of Ugly, a very short orchestral work written for The London
Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by Gunther Schuller.
1994 saw Elvis Costello and The Attractions joining forces in
concert once again. They recorded together for the first time
in nine years for the album Brutal Youth. A new album, co-produced
with Geoff Emerick and entitled All This Useless Beauty, has just
been released by Warner Bros. Records.
The album features such tracks as 'You Bowed Down,' 'Poor Fractured
Atlas,' 'Little Atoms,' 'Why Can't A Man Stand Alone?' and 'Shallow
Grave,' co-written with Paul McCartney. 'I Want To Vanish' is
performed in an arrangement by Costello and Steve Nieve for an
octet, including the members of the Brodsky Quartet.
Costello recently worked with Brian Eno on the track 'My Dark
Life' for the Warner Bros. Records compilation Songs In The Key
Of X -- Music From and Inspired By The X-Files. He is also currently
collaborating on the recording of a co-composition with Burt Bacharach,
'God Give Me Strength,' specially composed for the Allison Anders-directed
film, ' Grace Of My Heart,' which is due for release later this
year. Following his performance with the legendary gospel group
The Fairfield Four at the Meltdown Festival '95, Costello recently
traveled to Nashville where he was guest vocalist on a recorded
version of the McCartney/MacManus composition 'That Day Is Done.'
It will appear on the Fairfield Four's forthcoming album for Warner
Bros. Records. In the autumn, Costello will be among the singers
featured on Argo Records' Terror and Magnificence, the first fidl
album of compositions by classical saxophonist John Harle. These
include 'O Mistress Mine'- three song settings from Shakespeare's
Twelfth Night, which were specially adapted for Costello's voice.
Costello began 1996 by performing in a concert alongside Anne
Sofie Von Otter with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm.
He is now in the process of composing a new work for Anne Sofie
Von Otter and The Brodsky Quartet entitled 'Three Distracted Women.'