Elvis Costello has always been one of the most prolific songwriters in pop, writing a considerable number of songs that have never appeared on his official albums. Some were released as B-sides, some sat in the vault -- and some were handed to other artists. The Songs of Elvis Costello: Bespoke Songs, Lost Dogs, Detours & Rendezvous compiles 20 of those songs. Costello has recorded some of these songs -- "Girls Talk" (Dave Edmunds), "All Grown Up" (Tasmin Archer), "Shipbuilding" (Robert Wyatt), "The Other End (Of the Telescope)" ('Til Tuesday), "Almost Blue" (Chet Baker), "Indoor Fireworks" (Nick Lowe) -- but the main value for Costello collectors is that it gathers many songs that he has written but never officially recorded. Granted, there aren't too many lost classics here, but Roy Orbison's "The Comedians," Billy Bremner's "Shatterproof," Johnny Cash's "Hidden Shame" and Paul McCartney's "My Brave Face" are all quite good, as are the previously mentioned covers. Of course, this just scratches the surface of the Costello covers and unrecorded songs that are available, but the disc nevertheless is enjoyable, especially for Elvis fanatics, who should also be happy that Napoleon Dynamite wrote the liner notes to the collection.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine