In the wake of Hurricane Katrina Elvis Costello
and New Orleans musical great Allen Toussaint
collaborated on The River In Reverse
, followed it with knockout performances at the Grammy Awards and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and a month-long tour. The DVD Hot As A Pistol, Keen As A Blade
(Hip-O/UMe), to be released December 5, captures that tour's scintillating concert in Montreal, Canada, spotlighting songs from the album as well as other Costello gems spanning four decades, from "Watching The Detectives" and "Pump It Up" to lesser-known songs, most of them given special arrangements by Toussaint.
Hot As A Pistol, Keen As A Blade offers video evidence of a rare and special concert tour. Presented in 5.1 Surround Sound, the near two-hour long DVD stars the same lineup as that on The River In Reverse, combining Costello's band The Imposters with Toussaint's horn section (Amadee Castenell, Joe Smith, Sam Williams and Brian Cayolle) and guitarist (Anthony Brown). Bonuses include a performance of "Alison"; an in-studio performance of "Who's Gonna Help Brother," an excerpt from the film Putting The River In Reverse by Matthew Buzzell; an interview with Costello and Toussaint; a photo gallery; and a tour journal by Costello.
Along with performances of eight of that album's tracks, including "The River In Reverse," "Who's Gonna Help Brother Get Further?" and "Broken Promise Land," Hot As A Pistol, Keen As A Blade features new Toussaint arrangements for previous Costello songs: "Clownstrike," "Tears Before Bedtime," "Poisoned Rose," "(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea," "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror," "Bedlam" and "Pump It Up."
The Crescent City Horns are also featured playing charts written by Vince Mendoza, Sy Johnson, Chris Walden and Elvis Costello on the songs, "Monkey to Man," "Episode of Blonde," "Watching the Detectives," "Clubland" and the bonus feature cut, "Alison."
Toussaint takes the microphone for a number of his tunes not recorded for the album, including "A Certain Girl" and "Play Something Sweet (Brickyard Blues)." Toussaint's solo piano medley incorporates Earl King
's "Big Chief," Professor Longhair
's "Tipitina," his own song about "The Olde Professor" and the Toussaint-penned classic "Fortune Teller" with Elvis on vocals.
Costello and Toussaint first met in 1983 when the latter produced a track for the former. Toussaint also contributed to his 1988 Spike
album. Seventeen years later they reconnected in New York, where Toussaint relocated after Katrina's devastation, for a series of benefit shows, sparking the collaboration and recording of the critically acclaimed The River in Reverse. The deeply soulful The River in Reverse is comprised of seven songs from Toussaint's matchless catalog; five newly written by two; and one new song, the title track, written by Costello. To support The River In Reverse, they then took to the road. The result on stage is a description as well as a title--Hot As A Pistol, Keen As A Blade.