Elvis Costello might be one of rock's most intense musicologists — but there's one catalogue he remains unschooled in — the mighty Led Zeppelin. During a chat with The Washington Post, Costello revealed, “I’ve never owned a record by Led Zeppelin. I have no idea what they sound like. I once did a guest appearance with Sheryl Crow and I sang '(What's So Funny About) Peace, Love, And Understanding' with her band. I’d opened up and she said, 'Do you want to come out for the encore?' I said, 'Sure, what’s the song?' And she said, 'Rock And Roll.' I said, 'What? Rock-and-roll? Which song? It was like a 'who’s on first' kind of thing.”
Out now is Elvis Costello's six-disc boxed set edition of his 1979 classic third album, Armed Forces. The set features the album, apropos studio tracks, and three live recordings ranging from the summer of 1978 to the summer of 1979.
Over the years, Elvis Costello has reissued most of his albums several times, including demos, alternate versions, live renditions, acoustic readings, and more. Costello told us that those bonus tracks are meant to augment the listening experience — not replace or change the intent of the original versions: “I mean, the demos and the outtakes and these that've been released, it's not a question of milking the audience to buy inferior versions. Presumably there's something illuminating. A couple of my records I feel there are viable alternate versions of the records that are in the demo form; two or three of the albums that kind of have that relationship as the nature of the production. On the other hand, recordings that were sketches for the writers that may have somehow slipped out and become available, I don't think there's any obligation on out part to release them because somebody did steal 'em and make them available.”