Elvis Costello – Trust

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  • With a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side two and an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side one, this copy has Demo Disc sound guaranteed to knock you right out of your listening chair
  • The clarity and transparency allow you to appreciate subtleties in the high end even when the bass and drums are really POUNDING – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • 5 stars: “…their most ambitious and eclectic album to date… Costello & the Attractions demonstrate their musical skill and savvy by essentially sticking to the direct sound of their four-piece band. In the process, they recorded, arguably, their most impressive album, one that demonstrates all sides of Costello’s songwriting and performing personality without succumbing to pretentiousness.”

This copy has The Big Sound that lets this music REALLY ROCK. 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. 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.

What the best sides of Trust 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 even as late as 1981
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • 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 qualities we discuss 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.

These are The Attractions: the pro’s pros. You can’t ask for better, and as expected they deliver big time on this album. But the mastering and pressing problems of most British copies typically make them sound half-hearted and uninspired, which is certainly nothing like what they sound like on the master tape. On the master tape, they play GREAT. You need a very special copy of the LP to hear them play that way, and that’s all there is to it. The better the pressing, the better the band.

What We’re Listening For on Trust

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • 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 for the guitars, keyboards and drums, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as 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 players.
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

Whomp Factor

On the best copies, you get the full-on bottom end WHOMP you paid for, with no loss in control. You can clearly follow Bruce Thomas’s bass lines throughout the songs, a real treat for any music lover. (He and Elvis don’t get along, hence the end of the Attractions as his backing band. I guess we should be thankful for the nine albums on which they were together; many of them are Desert Island Discs for me.) Not only that, but the drums have real body and resonance, a far cry from the wimpy cardboard drum sound you’ll hear on most pressings.

The overall clarity and transparency here are superb, allowing you to appreciate subtleties in the top end even when the bass and drums are really pounding. Play Whisper to a Scream for some of the best pounding on the album. If that song doesn’t get your blood pumping, you need a bypass to unblock a few arteries, stat.

Track Commentary

The Track Listing tab above will take you to a select song breakdown for each side, with plenty of What to Listen For (WTLF) advice.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Clubland 
Lovers’ Walk

Listen to the buildup before the drummer switches to a straight ahead beat eaely in the song. On a good copy with lots of dynamics, you’ll hear the musicians playing their instruments harder and harder until the ultimate tension release. Without good dynamics, there’s no payoff.

You’ll Never Be a Man
Pretty Words
Strict Time
Luxembourg
Watch Your Step

Side Two

New Lace Sleeves
From a Whisper to a Scream

Apart from being one of my all time favorite Elvis Costello songs (with another idol of mine joining in, Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze), this one is a great test track for side two. The best copies have lots of deep bass with excellent definition that allow the song to really get going. You should be able to hear lots of ambience around the vocals and the drums, and the sound should be big enough to fill a room.

Different Finger
White Knuckles
Shot With His Own Gun
Fish ‘N’ Chip Paper
Big Sister’s Clothes

Rave Reviews

I pretty much agree with the AMG review below.

Trust, along with My Aim Is True and Armed Forces, is as good as it gets for Elvis on LP. All three are absolute Must Owns that belong in any serious rock collection.

This is that rare breed of music that never sounds dated (especially considering the era in which it was produced). Music with real depth such as this only gets better with the passage of time. The more you play it, the more you appreciate it, and the more you love it.

AMG 5 Star Rave Review

Following the frenzied pop-soul of Get Happy!!, Elvis Costello & the Attractions quickly returned to the studio and recorded Trust, their most ambitious and eclectic album to date… Costello & the Attractions demonstrate their musical skill and savvy by essentially sticking to the direct sound of their four-piece band. In the process, they recorded, arguably, their most impressive album, one that demonstrates all sides of Costello’s songwriting and performing personality without succumbing to pretentiousness.

More Rave Reviews

In a 4/5 star review for Rolling Stone, Ken Tucker wrote “from the Elvis Presley-style echoes of “Luxembourg” to the duet that Costello sings with Squeeze’s Glenn Tilbrook. In “From a Whisper to a Scream,” Costello’s sour croon and Tilbrook’s sweet moan swoop and dive around each other in joyous comradeship”. Rolling Stone later revised the album, giving it a 5 star rating.

Robert Christgau of the Village Voice gave it an A, and wrote “this is rock and roll as eloquent, hard-hitting pop, and Elvis has turned into such a soul man that I no longer wish he’d change his name to George and go country”.

Mikey Likes It

I remember loving the sound of my old Brit copy from twenty years back, even to the point of agreeing with Michael Fremer when he put it on his top 40 rock album list from the ’90s.

Now I know better: that most of them leave something — sometimes a lot — to be desired, especially down below. Did I have good one? Does he? Who can say? Everything is different, and revisiting old sonic favorites can sometimes be a bit of a shock.

Of course this is especially true for all the old MoFis I used to like. Now most of them make me gag.

Domestic Vinyl

We played a domestic copy of this album, just for fun you might say, and sure enough, it was a real mess. Boosted highs, poor bass definition and copious amounts of grit and grain — ’70s Columbia at their best, 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 — like this one.