Top Artists – Elvis Costello

Elvis Costello – Blood and Chocolate – Reviewed in 2000

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

Some brilliant songs on this one: I Want You comes to mind, one of the best tracks Elvis ever laid down. This is not a pretty record — it’s lean, mean, rock and roll, if you’re into that sort of thing (which I am of course). (more…)

What We Listen For on Elvis Costello’s Trust – The Bass Is (Almost) All

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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.

Hey, 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.

(It should be noted that this is not an easy record to reproduce properly. Everything needs to be working at its best to bring this recording to life, especially in the range of 200 cycles and under, an area where most audiophile systems are at their weakest. If you’ve got power to spare down there, this one will blow your mind.)

On this copy, 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 the typical copy. (more…)

Elvis Costello – This Year’s Model

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

PUMP IT UP! This British Import Radar LP has TWO AMAZING SIDES that really convey the energy of this hard rockin’ music. The overall sound is punchy, lively, and dynamic with lots of tight punchy bass. The vocals on both sides are Right On The Money. We don’t find copies like this very often — Hot Stamper pressings are TOUGH to come by.

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. (more…)

Elvis Costello – Get Happy – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

AN AMAZING A+++ WHITE HOT SIDE TWO backed with a pretty darn good side one on this rip-roarin’, twenty song, five star rated Elvis Costello extravaganza! We shot out well over a dozen Brit Import copies and this was one of a very small group that really rocked our world. Most copies were veiled, smeary, and thick but this one presents the music with the kind of energy these songs demand.

Side two here is OFF THE CHARTS! It’s open, transparent and super full-bodied with excellent presence to the vocals and big punchy bass. It has all of the richness and sweetness that’s missing from the average dull copy. This side is truly As Good As It Gets folks! (more…)

Elvis Costello – Mighty Like A Rose – Reviewed in 1991

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

Warner Brothers German Import LP. This is the only vinyl version of this album from 1991. As I recall the sound is pretty good.

 

Elvis Costello – Punch The Clock – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

The bottom end is as punchy, well-defined and powerful as they come. There’s plenty 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.) 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.

The bass, along with the horn sound, are the two key elements to getting a good copy of this record. The horns are often compressed, making them lose their bite and smearing them together. On some copies you can pick out the trombones and on some copies you can’t; you just hear Horns because the individual instruments are smashed into a congested mess. This is Elvis’ Motown Album; the horns are what bring the music to life. They’re what make this album fun.

On this copy, 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.) (more…)

Elvis Costello – Girls Girls Girls – Skip It on Vinyl (But Buy the CD Set)

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Girls Girls Girls

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This is a British Import Demon Records LP that sounds decent — better than you’d find on any domestic copy — and the songs, spanning the period from 1976 to 1986, are GREAT! 

But the CD has much better sound than any vinyl I have yet to hear. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Little Creatures and Armed Forces

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom,  

Just wanted to let you know I finally played the Little Creatures Hot Stamper last night for the first time. Very, very nice record. Admittedly, I have more copies of Little Creatures than any sane person should. Many of these copies sound very good, the Hot Stamper is a step above the rest. Great slam. More space between instruments. Love it. 

I have spent the last month or so collecting various versions of Elvis Costello – Armed Forces for a shootout. It’s a top five record for me and with my daughter heading for college soon, a White Hot copy is out of reach at this point. First press UK’s, later UK “Porky’s” and first run German “Porky’s” have all been gathered. Honestly, the whole process is a pain in the ass and very time consuming. The results have been interesting and I have acquired what I believe to be a very good record but it probably would have been cheaper to give you a call.

Keep up the good work.

Sean M.

Sean, I would have been happy to save you the work, we do if for a living.

For everybody else, click on the link below to get a ready-to-play, guaranteed killer copy mailed right to your door.

Best, TP

 

 

Little Creatures

Armed Forces

Elvis Costello – My Aim Is True – Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2016

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

STUNNING! This insanely good pressing earned the rare FOUR PLUS (A++++) grade on side one — it’s OFF THE CHARTS! Side two is incredible as well, earning our standard top grade of Triple Plus (A+++) The sound is incredibly lively, punchy, and powerful; with all due respect, it should MURDER whatever copies you may have. Relatively quiet for this album, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus on both sides.

We award this copy’s side one our very special Four Plus A++++ grade, which is strictly limited to pressings (really, individual sides of pressings) that take a recording to a level never experienced by us before, a level we had no idea could even exist. We estimate that less than one per cent of the Hot Stamper pressings we come across in our shootouts earn this grade. You can’t get much more rare than that. (more…)