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It’s the collaboration that you didn’t know you wanted but now are not sure how you could live without.
After performing several times with The Roots, the house band for “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” Elvis Costello joined the alternative hip-hop group for a collaboration album, “Wise Up Ghost.”
After becoming the house band for Fallon’s show in 2009, The Roots changed how they release music. While still releasing studio albums like “How I Got Over,” and “Undun,” the group has also looked into more exploratory avenues of music creation. In 2010, 2011 and now 2013, the group collaborated with another artist, or artists, to create an album that fits in well with their already existing catalog but stands out on its own as well.
Elvis Costello hasn’t released a studio album since 2010 but has definitely made his way around the music scene since his 1977 debut, “My Aim is True.”
The beauty of “Wise Up Ghost” is that it’s an album. Each song flows into one another, and the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts.
Costello and Roots drummer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson wrote all of the tracks on the album, marking a change from their cover-filled John Legend collaboration,“Wake Up!”
The album opens with the unmatchable “Walk Us Uptown,” which features some of the most remarkable production on a song in the past decade or so.
The top tracks from the album are definitely “Walk Us Uptown,” “Tripwire” and “Come the Meantimes,” but that doesn’t mean that each track is not good on its own.
In an era where music is as inconsistent as ever, “Wise Up Ghost” shines as a cohesive, well-produced, well-written album from two of the music scene’s most talented artists.
Most notably missing from the album is the presence of Tariq Trotter, more commonly known as the rapper Black Thought.
At the core, The Roots are a rap group, but other than Questlove’s hip-hop like drum beats, “Wise Up Ghost” does not resemble the hip-hop style that The Roots most notably represent.
The collaboration between Legend and The Roots on “Wake Up!” is more representative of each artist – Black Thought raps regularly throughout the entire album. On “Wise Up Ghost,” there’s no Black Thought to be found.
Although the presence of other Roots’ exists on the album, at the end of the day, let’s be honest about the fact that this is Costello and Questlove’s album.
The album received generally positive reviews. AllMusic and The Daily Telegraph gave the collaboration four and five stars respectively.
Rolling Stone, the Chicago Tribune and The Observer rated the album between three and three-and-a-half stars. The New Musical Express gave the album a 7/10.
Although nothing has been confirmed, speculation is that another iteration of the collaboration between the two is on its way. In fact, the album artwork says “Number One.”
For a first try, “Wise Up Ghost” exceeds expectations. If there is a second, there’s no telling what could happen.