Lies & Inventions


The next album of original material is proposed to be the first Attractions album since 1986.

Even though contractual negotiations break down, a plan to record another project with a line-up of musicians featured on recent recordings is nevertheless carried out.

Drummers, Pete Thomas and Jim Keltner, guitarists, James Burton and Marc Ribot and bassist, Jerry Scheff join keyboard player, Larry Knetchel convene at Blue Wave Studios, Barbados for the recording of "Kojak Variety", produced with Kevin Killen.

Songs recorded in include numbers previously made famous by Screaming Jay Hawkins, James Carr and the Louvin Brothers, as well as compositions by Mose Allison, Ray Davies and Holland/Dozier/Holland.

The album is not released until 1995 due to disagreement with Warner Brothers over the artist's desire that it simply appear in racks without any fanfare.

Upon completion of the sessions, Costello returns to New York City to record a version of "Weird Nightmare" for the Hal Willner's album of new interpretations of Charles Mingus compositions, entitled, "Weird Nightmares".

The session at Astoria Studios in Queens, New York City employ a number of unique instruments designed and constructed by the American microtonal composer, Harry Partch, including the "Harmonic Canon", "The Cloud Chamber Bowls" and a bass marimba that resembles a railway sleeper.

The percussion section includes, Don Elias, Michael Blair and, the guitarist, Marc Ribot, the horn section includes composer, Henry Threadgill. Guitarist, Bill Frisell completes the ensemble.

February 1990

Mercury Records release, "Boom Chicka Boom" by Johnny Cash that includes, "Hidden Shame", written especially for the album.

Summer 1990

The writing and recording of songs for "Mighty Like A Rose" produced with Mitchell Froom and Kevin Killen.

Sessions take place at Ocean Way and Sound Factory Studio, Hollywood and Westside Studios, London.

The album features Marc Ribot on guitar, Mitchell Froom, Larry Knetchel and Benmont Tench on keyboards, Jerry Scheff, T-Bone Wolk and Rob Wasserman on bass and Pete Thomas and Jim Keltner on drums.

The record once again features the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and the trumpet of Ross MacManus on "Invasion Hit Parade".

Two further McCartney/MacManus compositions are included - "So Like Candy" and "Playboy To A Man", while Cait O'Riordan provides a solo composition, "Broken".

The string arrangements are by Fiachra Trench.

At this time, R.T.E. and Hummingbird Pictures release a documentary television series about the journey of Irish music, "Bringing It All Back Home" by Philip King and Nuala O'Connor.

The soundtrack includes the Costello composition, "Mischieveous Ghost", a duet with Mary Coughlan with string sextet orchestration by Fiachra Trench.


The song, "Miracle Man" makes an appearance on the soundtrack of the Francis Ford Coppola motion picture, "The Godfather: Part III"


Collaboration with Richard Harvey on the music of, eleven-hour, seven-part television drama series, "G.B.H." by Alan Bleasdale, broadcast in 1991,


Warner Brothers release "Mighty Like A Rose".

Despite almost universally hostile critical reaction - much of it in the gentleman's grooming columns - the album reaches #5 in the U.K. album chart.

The single "The Other Side of Summer" fails to announce another album success in the United States.

Five-month world tour with the Rude Five commences in California in May and concludes in Australia in September.

October 1991

The Chieftains release "The Bells Of Dublin" which includes a performance of the Elvis Costello/Paddy Moloney Christmas song, "The St. Stephen's Day Murders"


Richard Harvey and Elvis Costello receive a BAFTA award for their musical score for Alan Bleasdale's drama series, "G.B.H."

"The Juliet Letters" is written with the Brodsky Quartet during the early part of the year.

Members of the quartet provide both words and music for seventeen songs and three instrumental pieces, most of which are written collaboratively.

The songs, which each take the form of a letter include, a diatribe from an disgruntled aunt against her scheming relations, "I Almost Had a Weakness", a suicide note, "Dear Sweet Filthy World", a child's letter, "Why" and a lover's dismissive postcard, "Who Do You Think You Are?" both of which are later performed in concert with the Brodsky Quartet by Bjork.

"I Thought I'd Write To Juliet" is based on letter received from a female soldier serving in the First Gulf War, while "Birds Will Still Be Singing" is an epitaph.

July 1st 1992

"The Juliet Letters" is debuted at the Amadeus Center, Maida Vale, London.

August 13th 1992

Second performance of "The Juliet Letters" in the Great Hall at the Dartington Summer Music School in Devon, England.

"Favourite Hour" - written on the day of that performance - is debuted as an encore.

October 11th 1992

A solo concert at the Royal Albert Hall in November is the only other full-length appearance of the year.

Release of T Bone Burnett's "Criminal Under My Hat" includes the song, "It's Not Too Late" written with Burnett and Bob Neuwirth.