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Pop / Rock 14/12/2001

Costello Plans 'Cruel' 2002 Return

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NEW YORK (AP) - The next page in Elvis Costello's storied career will turn with the April 23, 2002, release of "When I Was Cruel." Due out through Island, the album features frequent collaborators drummer Pete Thomas and keyboardist Steve Nieve, both former members of Costello's longtime backing band, the Attractions.

"I never liked that 'rock' word, because to me it always meant some guy with his shirt open, with a lot of hair and something down his trousers," Costello recently told USA Today when asked to described the new album. "And yet now, pop has become a dirty word, often meaning something kind of joyless and contrived. I guess I'd just say this record is rowdier, and there's more rhythm in it than the last couple of records I made."

"When I Was Cruel" will also feature Cracker bassist Davey Faragher and Jazz Passengers/Lounge Lizards saxophonist Roy Nathanson, according to a label spokesperson. Costello previously collaborated with Nathanson as narrator of his "Fire at Keaton's Bar & Grill" live and recorded cabaret project, which also included contributions from Blondie's Debbie Harry and the Psychedelic Furs' Richard Butler.

Costello, who last week joined Bruce Springsteen on stage at a New Jersey benefit concert, is expected to tour behind the release, probably in the late spring, although nothing has been officially confirmed. Early in the New Year, the artist will take part in a series of Concerts for a Landmine Free World dates in Ireland (Jan. 13, Belfast; Jan. 14, Dublin), Scotland (Jan. 15, Glasgow), and England (Jan. 17, London), along with Emmylou Harris, Nanci Griffith, and Steve Earle.

While Costello's last solo studio release (and last with the Attractions) was 1996's Warner Bros. release "All This Useless Beauty," he has since paired up with two diverse song stylists for separate albums. In 1998, he and Burt Bacharach released "Painted From Memory" (Mercury), and earlier this year, Costello teamed with mezzo soprano Anne Sofie von Otter for "For the Stars" (Deutsche Grammophon).

This year he also oversaw the beginning of the second comprehensive reissue program of his catalog, with Rhino's release of bolstered versions of 1977's "My Aim Is True," 1989's "Spike," and "All This Useless Beauty," as well as the label's two-disc "The Very Best of Elvis Costello." The reissue series will continue with expanded two-disc versions of 1978's "This Year's Model," 1986's "Blood & Chocolate," and 1994's "Brutal Youth," due Feb. 19.

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