Elvis Costello and the Roots, ‘Wise Up Ghost’


Aidin Vaziri | Elvis Costello’s musical restlessness has resulted in collaborations both awesome (Burt Bacharach, Paul McCartney) and awful (Brodsky Quartet, Wendy James). His latest, “Wise Up Ghost,” finds him in the studio with Grammy-winning hip-hop outfit the Roots featuring Ahmir Questlove, above right, best known as the house band for “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.” It doesn’t look like the most promising prospect on paper, but both parties bring great enthusiasm to the project. Even though it doesn’t sound retro, the album feels like a conscious throwback to the London that Costello arose from in 1977 – a dark, heady mix of punk, funk and dub more commonly associated with the Clash and the Specials. While the songs knowingly reference his older material, the music crackles with a spontaneous energy as both collaborators revel in their differences on tunes such as “Stick Out Your Tongue” and “Walk Us Uptown.”