Elvis Costello And The Roots
Credit: Tamara Weber

Throughout his career, Elvis Costello has been backed by a handful of different bands. There was the first version of the Attractions, which ended up becoming the bulk of the News (as in Huey Lewis). Then there was the more famous version of the Attractions, who played on classics like My Aim Is True.

There were the Impostors, and also the Sugarcanes. He’s released album-length collaborations with Burt Bacharach, the Brodsky Quartet, and Allen Toussaint, as well as multiple one-offs with Paul McCartney, Aimee Mann, and Billie Joe Armstrong. So why not the Roots?

In September, Costello will release Wise Up Ghost, an album recorded with the Philadelphia hip-hop stalwarts turned Jimmy Fallon late-night musical crew. Details are scarce, and the official press release about the album’s existence contained a lot of purposefully obtuse information (when asked about the album, Costello described it as “the shortest distance between here and there,” whatever that means).

Wise Up Ghost was co-produced by Costello, Roots mastermind Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson, and longtime Costello consigliere Steven Mandel, and will be released on September 17. According to the press release, “A small number of test pressings were distributed as white labels on Record Store Day on the 20th of April,” though so far there isn’t any evidence of the existence of that vinyl just yet (though you can bet your local record store’s RSD remainders will be raided by the end of the day).

The Roots are no strangers to collaborations (they put out the album Wake Up! with John Legend on vocals back in 2010), and have also played with Costello before (they were the house band backing Costello—and a number of others—during a tribute to Prince in New York earlier this year).

What do you hope the new album sounds like? In interviews, Thompson noted that he didn’t want to make a Costello hip-hop album, and Costello has similarly said he didn’t want to force the Roots into being a New Wave band. Let us know your predictions about Wise Up Ghost in the comments.


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