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  • Kojak Variety (With Bonus Disc)
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Kojak Variety (With Bonus Disc) Original recording remastered

23 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, August 3, 2004
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Editorial Reviews

KOJAK VARIETY, Elvis' 1995 multi-genre cavalcade of covers, features such gems as Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "Strange," Dylan's "I Threw It All Away," & Bacharach/David's "Please Stay." The album features the talents of the legendary James Burton on guitar & Jim Keltner on drums-in addition to The Attractions' Pete Thomas. The bonus disc boasts 20 additional rock, pop, & R&B classics totaling over 64 minutes, includes Jerry Garcia's "Ship Of Fools," Springsteen's "Brilliant Disguise," Lennon & McCartney's "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away," & Van Morrison's "Full Force Gale."

Disc: 1
1. Strange
2. Hidden Charms
3. Remove This Doubt
4. I Threw It All Away
5. Leave My Kitten Alone
6. Everybody's Crying Mercy
7. I've Been Wrong Before
8. Bama Lama Bama Loo
9. Must You Throw Dirt In My Face
10. Pouring Water On A Drowning Man
See all 15 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Ship Of Fools
2. My Resistance Is Low
3. Innocent When You Dream
4. I'm Coming Home
5. The Dark End Of The Street
6. Congratulations
7. You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go
8. Pouring Water On A Drowning Man (Alternate Version)
9. Still Feeling Blue
10. Brilliant Disguise
See all 20 tracks on this disc

Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 3, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Rhino
  • ASIN: B0002IQFEU
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #203,249 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Klein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 29, 2004
Format: Audio CD
When "Kojak Variety" was first released it was ignored by most EC fans and mentioned by critics as an example of a lack of inspiration on EC's part. Nothing could be further from the truth. While "Spike" and "Mighty As A Rose" demonstrated EC's diversity over the course of a single album, "Kojak" demonstrates where that inspiration originally came from. What's best about this reissue is the second disc included here. With thirty (!) remakes of classic contemporary and older rock 'n' roll gems, the second disc makes this the gem of the recent EC trio of reissues.

Covering Springsteen's "Brilliant Disguise" and a number of other songs to convince George Jones to tackle better material makes for great listening. It tells you 1) Who EC listens to and 2)How great he can be covering other people's definitive versions of their own songs. The gem here aside from "Brilliant Disguise" (which I had as a CD single)is the remake of Paul McCartney's little known gem "Step Inside Love". The song was written for Petula Clark but it sports one of McCartney's lush and innovative melodies. We're also treated to an alternate version of "Pouring Water on a Drowning Man", Arthur Alexander's "Sally Sue Brown", Van Morrison's "Full Force Gale", The Grateful Dead's marvelous "Ship of Fools" and a gem I had never heard before called "My Resistance is Low".

The liner notes are extensive and cover the sessions for the album as well as why EC decided to cover the material he did. Oh, and we finally find out where the enigmatic title comes from as well (there's even photographic evidence to back it up). A delightful covers album. While I've always liked "Almost Blue" (and the reissue has some delightful additional material as well), I've always been more of a rocker at heart. Here we get a glimpse into EC's heart full of rock 'n' roll and soul.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Tim Brough VINE VOICE on August 24, 2004
Format: Audio CD
I have always had a soft spot for this particular chapter in Elvis Costello's library. Recorded roughly the same time as "Spike," it sat in a vault for a few years before Elvis could talk the WB into putting it out. The original "Kojak Variety" is basically a lighthearted romp through 15 of Elvis' favorites. In the (now expanded) liner notes, he also mentions that it was recorded in about two weeks time. The loose feel of the songs does hint at that, and it provided some of the more uptempo numbers with a free wheeling charm.

But who would have thought that, in this reissue series comprised of Elvis Costello's "neglected" albums, (including "Almost Blue" and "Goodbye Cruel World"), it would be "Kojak Variety" that spawned the best bonus disc of Rhino's ongoing re-releases for ANY of his career? For a change, you get a disc that could've held its own as a solo album, and had it been released as "Kojak Variety Vol 2" would have raised more than a few eyebrows.

As Elvis explains in the liner notes, 10 of these 20 (whew!) extra songs were recorded as a pseudo demo for George Jones as EC's attempt to cut convince Jones to cut a more contemporary country album. These ten covers crush the easy-bake Nashville mentality that tied an anchor to "Almost Blue" down to shrapnel. Had THESE songs been Elvis' valentine to country music, maybe folks might have understood how songs like "Stranger In The House" or "Radio Sweetheart" sounded more honest than anything on "Almost Blue." In particular, assembling "Brilliant Disguise," "Congratulations" and "Innocent When You Dream" in such a consistent manner makes what was basically a likable curio in the Costello library even more fun to own, and raises my rating from its earlier 3 star to the new 4 star commendation.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John Stodder on September 22, 2004
Format: Audio CD
One of the best things about the prolific, complex Elvis Costello is that he is steeped in popular music. Some of his best records, from the Stax/Motown inspired Get Happy! to the Burt Bacharach collaboration Painted From Memory, wear their influences on their sleeves, but it's okay, because he's so creative and he loves the music so much. Sometimes, I think his encyclopedic knowledge causes his reach to exceed his grasp; he can be as great as his heroes, but not as great as ALL his heroes.

But no matter for this CD. "Kojak Variety," both the original album and the surprising, generous bonus CD, are relaxed cover versions of music by writers who've inspired him all his life, or whose talents he admires today. Paul McCartney. George Gershwin. Mose Allison. Gram Parsons. Holland-Dozier-Holland. Ray Davies. Jerry Garcia. Jesse Winchester. Bruce Springsteen. Bob Dylan. Van Morrison. Ray Noble. Paul Simon. And more. The first disc is just a remaster of the album that came out to little notice in 1995. It is unjustly neglected excellence, made especially so by the fantastic backing musicians whose collobarative arrangements are deeply enjoyable. It's an interesting combo--the avant guitarist Marc Ribot, but also the old-timer James Burton. Former attractions drummer Pete Thomas, but also session aces Larry Knechtel and Jim Keltner. It works great.

The second disk is not like most reissue/extra track packages, in that it is not outtakes, but other "cover" versions Costello produced under a variety of circumstances.
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