It seems like a great idea. Take the musically adventurous Elvis Costello and pair him with the musically adventurous The Roots.
Unfortunately, the resulting "Wise Up Ghost" (Blue Note) doesn't quite live up to the possibilities. The brilliant "Tripwire" shows a glimpse of what could have been, with Costello crafting a dark vision of the dangerous times we live in over The Roots' simple grooves of shimmering '70s soul that capture a beauty and innocence that now feels lost.
However, most of the album feels like two grand musical forces politely acquiescing to what each does best, rather than duking it out to build something new.
ELVIS COSTELLO & THE ROOTS
"Wise Up Ghost"
THE GRADE B
BOTTOM LINE An unusual collaboration that's surprisingly plain