In the February 2023 issue of Uncut, Elvis reveals a few details about Songs Of Bacharach And Costello, a four-album collection of his work with Burt Bacharach expected in 2023:
It's Painted From Memory  and Taken From Life, which is a collection of songs that Burt and I wrote over the last 15 years for a proposed Painted From Memory musical. So you'll hear other people singing a couple of those original songs, but also a bunch of songs that have never been heard before. We've compiled them with a couple of the songs from Look Now  and some recordings that were piano/voice explorations of what the songs would sound like if they were sung by other people. We've put them all together to create an impression of what it would have been like to have that score.
There's another disc of live performances of Painted From Memory songs, mostly with Steve Nieve and myself, a couple of them orchestral. Finally, a whole album of Bacharach/David songs, which I thought would be fun to include. This is a love letter to Burt. We went into the studio last September and recorded two songs with Vince Mendoza conducting a 30-piece orchestra. So the bookends for this Taken From Life record are newly recorded. The Imposters and I recorded a third song, in Capitol Studios with an orchestra. It was a few years since we'd worked together, but it didn't take very long before I'm in the booth and he was on the call-back saying, "Elvis, you're not singing the right melody." So I had to be on top of it!"
I remember about thirty years ago hearing Elvis Costello's recording of Bacharach & Hilliard's 'Please Stay' and being impressed that he chose to base his interpretation on the UK hit version of the song by The Cryin' Shames rather than The Drifters' original. This is featured on disc 4 of the collection:
For me the most intriguing of all the previously unreleased stuff detailed in the press release is 'Lie Back And Think Of England', the song written for the proposed Austin Powers musical and featuring Bacharach singing alone at the piano. I'm also looking forward to hearing the additional songs they wrote for the planned Painted From Memory musical, in particular those sung by Audra Mae and Jenni Muldaur, daughter of Geoff and Maria Muldaur.
It seems that all 4 CDs are only available in the very pricey super deluxe edition along with the 2 LPs and the booklet. However, a 2 CD set will be available consisting of discs 1 & 2 from the super deluxe and at a very reasonable price.
blue, the videos posted on YouTube so far are tracks taken from CD 3 which is made up almost entirely of live renditions of the songs from the Painted From Memory album and CD 4, the disc containing EC's versions of several of Bacharach's 60s classics. Of course it's the second CD entitled 'Taken From Life' that's the key disc in the collection because it's the one that contains the seven previously unrecorded Bacharach and Costello songs, plus the three songs of theirs released by Elvis on the 'Look Now' album and the one that featured on the EP 'Purse'. As previously stated, this disc will be obtainable along with the first CD in the collection containing the remastered Painted From Memory album in a special 2CD set.
I think the live rendition of 'In The Darkest Place' featuring just Elvis Costello on acoustic guitar and Steve Nieve on piano is pretty special and the song's beautiful coda which has Bacharach's stamp as a composer all over it is particularly effective in this version.
Looking at the contents of the fourth CD in the collection I see that there's a version of 'Baby It's You' by the impressive pairing of Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe, a recording apparently made in the 1980s which until now I'd never heard before. I don't know who plays the guitar solo but it's a beauty:
I must admit I was surprised when I first heard that plans were underway to produce a musical based on the songs of the Painted From Memory album, simply because it's difficult to imagine a successful Broadway show consisting almost entirely of ballads without any of the variety and the light and shade normally associated with a stage musical score. Perhaps it was inevitable that after going to the trouble of writing an additional dozen or so songs in the same vein that Bacharach, Costello and Chuck Lorre, whose idea the musical was, apparently came to the same conclusion. At least the release of this box set means that these additional songs will now be out in the public domain and so won't have completely gone to waste. Taking into account all his regular studio albums, live albums, compilations, tribute albums and box sets, 'The Songs Of Bacharach and Costello' will be Elvis Costello's 65th release in forty-six years. I don't know of any other recording artist of the last fifty years who comes even remotely close to that kind of productivity.
This isn't the live version of 'My Little Red Book' that's featured on disc 4 of the box set but it's the same personnel performing the same arrangement just a few weeks earlier so there shouldn't be much difference, although I trust that on the later version Elvis correctly sings the word "love" instead of "charms" as he does here.