An artist without greed or ego

You’ve got to love Elvis Costello, who is telling his fans NOT to buy his latest box set because it’s too expensive, but to instead buy that of Louis Armstrong, whose music is “vastly superior.”

Just in time for the holidays, Elvis Costello has a new $225 box set for sale — and he’s telling fans NOT to buy it.

The singer says $225 is just too much to pay for “Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook,” even if it does come with three CDs, a vinyl record, a concert DVD and a 40-page coffee table book. The music and DVD were recorded earlier this year at a two-night stand in Los Angeles, where Costello spun his game-show-like wheel to select songs that he and his band would play.

“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,” Costello wrote on his website.

Costello tried to get the record company to knock the price down, but was unsuccessful. So he is recommending buying the work of another legendary artist.

“If you should really want to buy something special for your loved one at this time of seasonal giving, we can whole-heartedly recommend, ‘Ambassador of Jazz’ — a cute little imitation suitcase, covered in travel stickers and embossed with the name ‘Satchmo’ but more importantly containing TEN re-mastered albums by one of the most beautiful and loving revolutionaries who ever lived – Louis Armstrong,” Costello wrote. “The box should be available for under one hundred and fifty American dollars and includes a number of other tricks and treats. Frankly, the music is vastly superior.”

via Elvis Costello: Don’t Buy My $225 Box Set | NBC New York.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Pr Mark Henderson

    Whether Costello is without greed or ego I can’t say, but I do know Americans just don’t get British understatement. ;0)

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Pr Mark Henderson

    Whether Costello is without greed or ego I can’t say, but I do know Americans just don’t get British understatement. ;0)

  • Joe

    I have always liked Costello. I’m not sure why, but I always have.

  • Joe

    I have always liked Costello. I’m not sure why, but I always have.

  • Jon

    Costello’s greatest hits album is definitely worth the $10 on iTunes.

  • Jon

    Costello’s greatest hits album is definitely worth the $10 on iTunes.

  • Cincinnatus

    Clever marketing ploy.

  • Cincinnatus

    Clever marketing ploy.

  • Steve Billingsley

    Elvis Costello is greatness. He did some collaborations with Burt Bacharach that were really wonderful and – “What’s so funny about peace, love and understanding?” – come on – how great is that.

    Watching the Detectives, Allison, I Don’t Want to Go to Chelsea, Pump it Up, Every Day I Write the Book – greatness….

  • Steve Billingsley

    Elvis Costello is greatness. He did some collaborations with Burt Bacharach that were really wonderful and – “What’s so funny about peace, love and understanding?” – come on – how great is that.

    Watching the Detectives, Allison, I Don’t Want to Go to Chelsea, Pump it Up, Every Day I Write the Book – greatness….

  • Tom Hering

    A clever marketing ploy wouldn’t make the suggestion that something costs too much. Unless you’re marketing to people who like to show off the fact that they’ve spent too much – that they can afford to spend too much. Does that include Costello’s fan base? I doubt it.

  • Tom Hering

    A clever marketing ploy wouldn’t make the suggestion that something costs too much. Unless you’re marketing to people who like to show off the fact that they’ve spent too much – that they can afford to spend too much. Does that include Costello’s fan base? I doubt it.

  • Cincinnatus

    Come on, Tom! Be a more sophisticated consumer!

    Faux humility is an easy way to get publicity. Seriously: Just do a Google search on “Elvis Costello”: some of the first hits are about this story and how “cheeky” he’s being. Will he sell more records because of this appeal not to buy his records? Actually, maybe. But more importantly, he’s getting free publicity.

    I, for one, would not even have known about this boxed set had he told me not to buy it and gained media coverage thereby. Now, however, if I had friends and relations who loved Costello, I would a) know about this gift-worthy item and b) consider Costello a genuine, honest, down-to-earth guy who might even deserve my patronage (yeah, he’s totally not like all those other celebrities in the 1%)–at least if I were as unsophisticated as you, Tom ;-)

  • Cincinnatus

    Come on, Tom! Be a more sophisticated consumer!

    Faux humility is an easy way to get publicity. Seriously: Just do a Google search on “Elvis Costello”: some of the first hits are about this story and how “cheeky” he’s being. Will he sell more records because of this appeal not to buy his records? Actually, maybe. But more importantly, he’s getting free publicity.

    I, for one, would not even have known about this boxed set had he told me not to buy it and gained media coverage thereby. Now, however, if I had friends and relations who loved Costello, I would a) know about this gift-worthy item and b) consider Costello a genuine, honest, down-to-earth guy who might even deserve my patronage (yeah, he’s totally not like all those other celebrities in the 1%)–at least if I were as unsophisticated as you, Tom ;-)

  • Cincinnatus

    See?

    http://news.yahoo.com/elvis-costello-says-buy-louis-armstrong-not-140429480.html

    “While Costello’s comments may embarrass his record label, they have also generated considerable publicity for the ‘super deluxe’ edition, which is available from December 6. . .[He] took the opportunity to plug his live appearances in the United States and Europe next year.”

    Also, it’s rumored that Costello owns the rights to some of Armstrong’s songs. No idea if that’s true, and I can’t be bothered to check.

  • Cincinnatus

    See?

    http://news.yahoo.com/elvis-costello-says-buy-louis-armstrong-not-140429480.html

    “While Costello’s comments may embarrass his record label, they have also generated considerable publicity for the ‘super deluxe’ edition, which is available from December 6. . .[He] took the opportunity to plug his live appearances in the United States and Europe next year.”

    Also, it’s rumored that Costello owns the rights to some of Armstrong’s songs. No idea if that’s true, and I can’t be bothered to check.

  • Tom Hering

    I like Costello, and I agree with him that the box set isn’t worth the outrageous price, so I won’t be buying it. Is that sophisticated enough for ya? :-P
    Besides, “The 57-year-old pointed out that the same music would be available in the New Year at more affordable prices.” Yeah, I just get more sophisticated all the time. :-P

  • Tom Hering

    I like Costello, and I agree with him that the box set isn’t worth the outrageous price, so I won’t be buying it. Is that sophisticated enough for ya? :-P
    Besides, “The 57-year-old pointed out that the same music would be available in the New Year at more affordable prices.” Yeah, I just get more sophisticated all the time. :-P

  • Cincinnatus

    Surely you didn’t need Costello to tell you that the price was too high, however.

  • Cincinnatus

    Surely you didn’t need Costello to tell you that the price was too high, however.

  • Tom Hering

    No, I didn’t, which just makes me an incredibly sophisticated consumer. :-D

  • Tom Hering

    No, I didn’t, which just makes me an incredibly sophisticated consumer. :-D

  • Jonathan

    Like Tom, I like Costello, a sincere enough guy, but I’ve always preferred his partner, Abbott.

  • Jonathan

    Like Tom, I like Costello, a sincere enough guy, but I’ve always preferred his partner, Abbott.

  • SKPeterson

    I like Costello’s wife’s (Diane Krall) recordings. They go well with some Armstrong, but I’d prefer a Coltrane or Davis retrospective. I got a nifty 5 cd mini-box set of Dave Brubeck (the Time series) for about $10, which was definitely worth it.

  • SKPeterson

    I like Costello’s wife’s (Diane Krall) recordings. They go well with some Armstrong, but I’d prefer a Coltrane or Davis retrospective. I got a nifty 5 cd mini-box set of Dave Brubeck (the Time series) for about $10, which was definitely worth it.

  • Tom Hering

    You want to talk about pricey? The real reason I’m not going to buy Costello’s box set is because I’m saving up to get (if I live long enough) the box set of John Cage’s Organ²/ASLSP (As SLow aS Possible). Currently being performed at Sankt-Burchardi Church in Halberstadt, Germany, the composition is 6,096,321 hours long (693 years). Therefore, the box set, to be released in 2641, will contain 4,689,477 CDs. Not cheap.

  • Tom Hering

    You want to talk about pricey? The real reason I’m not going to buy Costello’s box set is because I’m saving up to get (if I live long enough) the box set of John Cage’s Organ²/ASLSP (As SLow aS Possible). Currently being performed at Sankt-Burchardi Church in Halberstadt, Germany, the composition is 6,096,321 hours long (693 years). Therefore, the box set, to be released in 2641, will contain 4,689,477 CDs. Not cheap.

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Pr Mark Henderson

    Just reading the comments; yep, you guys definitely don’t get British understatement.

    Btw, I saw Costello and the Attractions live in 1978. They were certainly a tight combo, but way too loud, even for 15 year old ears. All musicality, such as it was, was lost in a devastating scream of white noise.

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Pr Mark Henderson

    Just reading the comments; yep, you guys definitely don’t get British understatement.

    Btw, I saw Costello and the Attractions live in 1978. They were certainly a tight combo, but way too loud, even for 15 year old ears. All musicality, such as it was, was lost in a devastating scream of white noise.


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