Elvis Costello – Get Happy

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  • An incredibly good UK pressing – only the second Shootout Winner to hit the site in many years, with Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides
  • Big, lively and dynamic, with huge amounts of bass (Elvis’s trademark sound) and New Wave energy that’s off the charts
  • Get Happy, coming right before the brilliant Trust, contains Elvis classics like I Can’t Stand Up (for Falling Down) & Motel Matches
  • The AMG Five Star rating “…a 20-song blue-eyed soul tour-de-force…” and killer recording quality make this a Must Own for Elvis fans

Two amazing Triple Plus (A+++) sides for this rip-roarin’, twenty song, five star rated Elvis Costello extravaganza!

This is the record that came right after Armed Forces, which is a huge favorite around these parts, and the venerable All Music Guide gives both albums five big stars. I’m not sure I’d go quite that far, but it’s certainly full of good material. Out of the twenty songs on here, exactly one clocks in at over three minutes.

Blue Eyed Soul

What the best sides of this classic Elvis Costello album have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1980
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the multi-tracked vocals, guitars, piano, keyboards, drums and other instruments having the correct sound for this recording
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

There’s not a lot of top end on this recording. The mistake the American mastering engineers made when Columbia released their version was to brighten up the sound, which does nothing but make it aggressive and transistory. This is the way Get Happy is supposed to sound and trying to change it only makes it worse.

Most of the copies we played were veiled, smeary, and thick, but this one presents the music with the kind of clarity and energy these songs need to work their under-three-minute magic.

What We Listen For on Get Happy!

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

I Can’t Stand Up (for Falling Down) 
Black & White World 
5ive Gears in Reverse 
B Movie 
Motel Matches 
Human Touch 
Beaten to the Punch 
Temptation 
I Stand Accused 
Riot Act

Side Two

Love for Tender 
Opportunity 
The Imposter 
Secondary Modern 
King Horse 
Possession 
Men Called Uncle 
Clowntime Is Over 
New Amsterdam 
High Fidelity

AMG Review

Get Happy!! was born as much from sincere love for soul as it was for Elvis Costello’s desire to distance himself from an unfortunate verbal faux pas where he insulted Ray Charles in an attempt to get Stephen Stills’ goat. Either way, it resulted in a 20-song blue-eyed soul tour-de-force…

As it furiously flits through 20 songs, Costello’s cynicisms, rage, humor, and misanthropic sensibility gel remarkably well.