Listen to this track by stylistically exploratory singer-songwriter Elvis Costello, and lyrical chamber music avatars The Brodsky Quartet. It’s “Jacksons, Monk and Rowe” as taken from the 1993 collaborative album The Juliet Letters.
In many ways, it’s amazing that this record was put out on a major label. The early ’90s was a time when the formatting of music was becoming more and more rigid for established artists signed to the majors. Elvis Costello who had been signed to Warner Brothers for a few years by this time seemed to be moving in the completely opposite direction to this trend. From 1989’s Spike, and 1991’s Mighty Like A Rose, he’d created some pretty angular pop music, with equally idiosyncratic production that is not to everyone’s taste. This was especially true for those expecting another This Year’s Model.
So, how did a rock ‘n’ roll songwriter, and a straight-ahead classical string quartet to get together and make an album that was neither a pop record, nor a classical one? And how does this particular song shine a light on the core values found in both musical streams? Read more