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Elvis Costello: Mystery Dance

Profile of singer-songwriter Elvis Costello, from a Catholic upbringing to success with The Attractions, multiple reinventions and collaborations with the likes of Paul McCartney.

Elvis Costello is one of the uncontested geniuses of the rock world. 33 albums and dozens of hit songs have established him as one of the most versatile and intelligent songwriters and performers of his generation. This film provides a definitive account of one of Britain's greatest living songwriters - the first portrait of its kind - directed by Mark Kidel, who was won numerous awards for his music documentaries, including portraits of Rod Stewart, Boy George, Tricky, Alfred Brendel, Ravi Shankar, John Adams and Robert Wyatt.

Elvis is a master of melody, but what distinguishes him above all is an almost uncanny way with words, from the playful use of the well-worn cliche to daring poetic associations, whether he is writing about the sorrow of love or the burning fire of desire, the power play of the bedroom or the world of politics.

The film tells the story of Elvis Costello - a childhood under the influence of his father Ross McManus, the singer with Joe Loss's popular dance band; a Catholic education which has clearly marked him deeply; his overnight success with The Attractions and subsequent disenchantment with the formatted pressures of the music business; a disillusionment which led him to reinvent himself a number of times; and writing and recording songs in various styles, including country, jazz, soul and classical.

The film focuses in particular on his collaborations with Paul McCartney and Allen Toussaint, who both contribute. It also features exclusive access to unreleased demos of songs written by McCartney and Costello. Elvis was interviewed in Liverpool, London and New York, revisiting the places in which he grew up. The main interview, shot over two days at the famed Avatar Studios in NYC, is characterised by unusual intimacy. Elvis talks for the first time at great length about his career, songwriting and music, and often breaks into song with relevant examples from his repertoire.

1 hour

Last on

Fri 2 Mar 2018 01:35

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • Steve Nieve

    Alison

  • Elvis Costello & The Attractions

    Pump It Up

  • Elvis Costello & The Attractions

    Oliver’'s Army

  • Elvis Costello & Brodsky Quartet

    Pills and Soap

  • Elvis Costello & The Sugarcanes

    The Delivery Man

  • Elvis Costello & John Harle

    When That I Was And A Little Tiny Boy

  • Joe Loss & His Orchestra

    You're The Cream In My Coffee

  • Ross MacManus & Joe Loss & His Orchestra

    If I Had A Hammer

  • Joni Mitchell, Russ Kunkel, Sneaky Pete Kleinow & James Taylor

    California

  • Elvis Costello

    Poison Moon

  • Elvis Costello & Clover

    Less Than Zero

  • Elvis Costello

    Alison

  • Elvis Costello & The Attractions

    This Year's Girl

  • Elvis Costello & The Attractions

    Radio Radio

  • Elvis Costello & The Attractions

    Pump It Up

  • Elvis Costello & The Attractions

    Lipstick Vogue

  • Elvis Costello & The Attractions

    High Fidelity

  • Elvis Costello & The Attractions

    I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down

  • Elvis Costello & The Attractions

    Why Don't You Love Me

  • Elvis Costello & The Attractions

    Sweet Dreams

  • Elvis Costello & Robert Wyatt

    Shipbuilding

  • Elvis Costello

    Brilliant Mistake (feat. The Attractions & The Confederates)

  • Elvis Costello

    Poisoned Rose (feat. The Attractions & The Confederates)

  • Elvis Costello & Brodsky Quartet

    The Birds Will Be Singing

  • Elvis Costello, Steve Nieve, Davey Faragher, Pete Thomas, Brian "Breeze" Cayolle, Amadee Castenell, Joe Smith, Sam Williams & Allen Toussaint

    The River In Reverse

  • Elvis Costello, Steve Nieve, Davey Faragher, Pete Thomas, Joe Smith, Sam Williams & Allen Toussaint

    Who's Gonna Help Brother Get Further

  • Elvis Costello

    Still

  • Elton John, Elvis Costello & Diana Krall

    Makin' Whoopee

  • Elvis Costello

    Quiet About It

  • Elvis Costello

    Mystery Dance

  • Elvis Costello & The Sugarcanes

    Cinco Minutos Con Vos

  • 00:26

    Elvis Costello & The Attractions

    I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down

Credit

Role Contributor
Director Mark Kidel

Broadcasts

Featured in...

TV blog: Show-stopping archive

Interview with Director Mark Kidel

Interview with Director Mark Kidel

Mark talks about how the film came about and some of the great moments in the filming

Elvis Costello - Glastonbury highlights

Elvis Costello - Glastonbury highlights

Have a look at the best bits of Elvis Costello's set at Glastonbury 2013