This Year’s Model Is Rockin’ Like No Other

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  • With a Triple Plus (A+++) shootout winning side two and a superb Double Plus (A++) side one, this copy will be very hard to beat – quiet vinyl too
  • This Green Label Radar Records UK pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce
  • The bass is right – the moment-to-moment rhythmic changes in the songs are clear and the band swings the way it’s supposed to
  • 5 stars: “The most remarkable thing about the album is the sound — Costello and the Attractions never rocked this hard, or this vengefully, ever again.”

As we noted above, this original British pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

Big Production Rock

This is some of the best High-Production-Value rock music of the ’70s. It seems that no effort or cost was spared in making the home listening experience as compelling as the recording technology of the day permitted.

The sides that had sound that jumped out of the speakers, with driving rhythmic energy, worked the best for us. They really brought this complex music to life and allowed us to make sense of it. This is yet another definition of a Hot Stamper — it’s the copy that lets the music work as music.

Big Production Tubey Magical British Rock just doesn’t get much better than This Year’s Model.

The Low End Theory

A correct bottom end is absolutely CRITICAL for this album. Like Trust and Armed Forces, there’s a TON of low-end on this record; regrettably, most copies suffer from either a lack of bass or a lack of bass definition. I can’t tell you how much you’re missing when the bass isn’t right on this album. (Or if you have the typical bass-shy audiophile speaker, yuck.)

It’s without a doubt the single most important aspect of the sound on this album. When the bass is right, everything falls into place, and the music comes powerfully to life. When the bass is lacking or ill-defined, the music seems labored; the moment-to-moment rhythmic changes in the songs blur together, and the band just doesn’t swing the way it’s supposed to.

Shooting Out the Tough Ones

Big Rock Records always make for tough shootouts. Their everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to recording makes it difficult to translate so much sound to disc. vinyl or otherwise. Everything has to be tuned up and on the money before we can even hope to get the record sounding right. (Careful VTA adjustment could not be more critical in this respect.)

If we’re not hearing the sound we want, we keep messing with the adjustments until we do. There is no getting around sweating the details when sitting down to test a complex recording such as this. If you can’t stand the tweaking tedium, get out of the kitchen (or listening room as the case may be). Obsessing over every aspect of a record’s reproduction is what we do for a living. This kind of Big Rock Recording requires us to be at the top of our game, both in terms of reproducing the albums themselves as well as evaluating the merits of individual pressings.

When you love it, it’s not work, it’s fun. Tedious, occasionally exasperating fun, but still fun. And the louder you play a record like this the better it sounds.

Domestic Elvis: No Action

Domestic Elvis Costello pressings rarely do much for us. Boosted highs, poor bass definition and copious amounts of grit and grain, the sound of ’70s Columbia vinyl, what else is new? The first album and Spike are the only Elvis records I know of that sound good on domestic vinyl. Forget the rest.

If you love Elvis Costello as much as we do around here, we suggest you do yourself a favor and trash your domestic LPs — you need a British copy to even get in the ballpark, and that’s far from a guarantee of good sound. Elvis is “Still the King,” but you would never know it without the right pressing.

Vinyl Condition

Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)

Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of later pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful originals.

If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

No Action
This Year’s Girl
The Beat
Pump It Up
Little Triggers
You Belong to Me

Side Two

Hand in Hand
(I Don’t Want to Go To) Chelsea 
Lip Service
Living in Paradise
Lipstick Vogue
Night Rally

AMG 5 Star Rave Review

After releasing My Aim Is True, Costello assembled a backing band called the Attractions, which were considerably tougher and wilder than Clover, who played on his debut. The Attractions were a rock & roll band, which gives This Year’s Model a reckless, careening feel. It’s nervous, amphetamine-fueled, nearly paranoid music — the group sounds like they’re spinning out of control as soon as they crash in on the brief opener, “No Action,” and they never get completely back on track, even on the slower numbers.

Costello and the Attractions speed through This Year’s Model at a blinding pace, which gives his songs — which were already meaner than the set on My Aim Is True — a nastier edge. “Lipstick Vogue,” “Pump It Up,” and “(I Don’t Want to Go To) Chelsea” are all underscored with sexual menace, while “Night Rally” touches on a bizarre fascination with fascism that would blossom on his next album, Armed Forces.

Even the songs that sound relatively lighthearted — “Hand in Hand,” “Little Triggers,” “Lip Service,” “Living in Paradise” — are all edgy, thanks to Costello’s breathless vocals, Steve Nieve’s carnival-esque organ riffs, and Nick Lowe’s bare-bones production.

Of course, the songs on This Year’s Model are typically catchy and help the vicious sentiments sink into your skin, but the most remarkable thing about the album is the sound — Costello and the Attractions never rocked this hard, or this vengefully, ever again.