Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Paul McCartney & Elvis Costello - The McCartney-Costello Demos (1987)

Before I continue posting more Paul McCartney stray tracks albums, I need to make a detour. And what a lovely detour it is! I think these demos McCartney did with Elvis Costello in 1987 are a highlight of both of their careers. If you don't have this album yet, you should get it now.

As I mentioned previously, McCartney was very disappointed at the critical and commercial reception to his 1986 album "Press to Play," and he vowed to redouble his efforts for his next album. A key part of that involved him make his most serious attempt to co-write songs with someone else since his songwriting team with John Lennon. It was a great match, because McCartney was often considered to be strong at melody and relatively weak at lyrics, while it was the opposite for Costello.

The two of them wrote a bunch of songs together that were much better than anything either of them had done on their own since the early 1980s. Unfortunately, they decided against putting out all these songs together, and instead they trickled out here and there, with most going to McCartney's next album ("Flowers in the Dirt") and Costello's ("Spike"). I suspect they were daunted by the comparisons between their collaboration and the legendary McCartney-Lennon songwriting team. It's even more unfortunate that they didn't continue their collaboration in later years.

So although there never was a McCartney-Costello late 1980s album, at least we have these acoustic demos. They existed on bootlegs for ages, but the vast majority of them were officially released as part of a deluxe edition of Flowers in the Dirt in 2017. Three co-written songs that were left off that (because the demos didn't feature both McCartney and Costello singing) have been released as bonus tracks to other albums.

Note that in 1988, McCartney and Costello recorded full-band demos for most of these songs. Those also have been officially released as part of the Flowers in the Dirt deluxe edition. That's an interesting listen, but I love acoustic music, so I actually prefer these recordings.

01. The Lovers that Never Were (Paul McCartney & Elvis Costello)
02. Tommy’s Coming Home (Paul McCartney & Elvis Costello)
03. Twenty Fine Fingers (Paul McCartney & Elvis Costello)
04. So Like Candy (Paul McCartney & Elvis Costello)
05. You Want Her Too (Paul McCartney & Elvis Costello)
06. That Day Is Done (Paul McCartney & Elvis Costello)
07. Don’t Be Careless Love (Paul McCartney & Elvis Costello)
08. My Brave Face (Paul McCartney & Elvis Costello)
09. Playboy to a Man (Paul McCartney & Elvis Costello)
10. I Don't Want to Confess (Paul McCartney & Elvis Costello)
11. Shallow Grave (Paul McCartney & Elvis Costello)
12. Mistress and Maid (Paul McCartney & Elvis Costello)
13. Pads, Paws and Claws (Elvis Costello)
14. Back on My Feet (Paul McCartney)
15. Veronica (Elvis Costello)


For the album cover, I had a hard time finding a color photo of McCartney and Costello together. I resorted to using one of them playing together in a 1999 concert.


  1. https://albumsbackfromthedead.blogspot.com/2018/09/paul-mccartney-elvis-costello-double-mac.html

    Great minds. different sequence LOL