Top Artists – Elvis Costello

Elvis Costello – My Aim Is True – Our Off the Charts Shootout Winner from 2016

Hot Stampers of My Aim Is True

Letters and Commentaries for My Aim Is True

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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.

This is an amazing album, but a pressing like this takes it to a whole new level! The average copy of this record is aggressive and unpleasant. You either have to work very hard to find a good one (which means buying, cleaning and playing lots and lots of them), or you have to luck into a good one by accident.

More Outlier Pressings with Out of this World Sound Quality

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Elvis Costello – Get Happy

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More Titles Only Offered on Import LP

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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. (more…)

What We Think We Know about Elvis Costello’s Groundbreaking Debut from 1977

Hot Stampers of My Aim Is True

Letters and Commentaries for My Aim Is True

  • This STUNNING copy of Costello’s debut album earned Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades on both sides
  • The sound is lively, punchy, and powerful – with all due respect, it should MURDER whatever copies you may have
  • A massive step up sonically from most domestic pressings, early or otherwise, and guaranteed to handily beat the imports as well
  • 5 stars: “A phenomenal debut, capturing a songwriter and musician whose words were as rich and clever as his music.”

Yes, it’s lively and has that driving punk rock bass, but what sets this copy apart from the average pressing is the top end — it’s silky and smooth. As a consequence, the vocals end up being more present and transparent than we’re used to, with almost none of the grit and spit so common to most of the copies anyone is ever likely to come across. (more…)

Elvis Costello – Imperial Bedroom

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  • With Triple Plus (A+++) sound or something close to it on both sides this is as good a copy as we have ever offered
  • Geoff Emerick engineered, creating a unique sound – a sound which only works if you have the right pressing
  • This dense, darkly serious album contains some of the best songs EC ever wrote – the last of his True Classics
  • Allmusic 5 Stars: “Essentially, the songs on Imperial Bedroom are an extension of Costello’s jazz and pop infatuations on Trust. Costello’s music is complex and intricate, yet it flows so smoothly, it’s easy to miss the bitter, brutal lyrics.”

Six of Elvis’s first seven albums received a Five Star rating from Allmusic, the exception being Almost Blue, and we generally would agree with that assessment (although Get Happy should probably get Four Stars also, not Five). 

Which is to say that Elvis Costello is a brilliant artist whose albums work as albums, a fact that is in danger of being lost in a world of single song downloads and greatest hits packages. We record-playing audiophiles are inclined to start at the beginning of a side and let if flow through to the end, and that is clearly the best way to appreciate and enjoy the work of this very gifted man.

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Elvis Costello – Spike – The Last Consistently Good Elvis Costello Album

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  • A superb sounding copy of Elvis Costello’s Last Really Good Album with Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • This copy showed us a Spike we never knew existed — so much energy and presence to the sound, it came jumping out of the speakers and simply refused to mind its manners. Elvis should be proud. Why don’t more records sound like this?
  • This is one of the best batches of songs Elvis (and his buddy Paul McCartney) ever wrote!

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Letter of the Week – Armed Forces: “…an occult experience, as the sound emanating was totally inexplicable.”

Armed Forces

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

Hey Tom,   

My nearly white hot stamper of “Armed Forces” has literally and honestly left me in tears. I didn’t know my system could sound so… elevated? Perfect? Whole?

Listening to “Two Little Hitlers” was an occult experience, as the sound emanating was totally inexplicable.

Understand, I own over 10 versions of this album. I have collected original UK pressings and I have one that I was pretty sure you couldn’t match. I’m a damned expert of “Armed Forces”. Pathetic, but true.

Language fails.

I was going to return this slab. I had made up my mind before I heard it that it’s going back. The old me, before I went though your transformative experience of Crowley-esq audio magik, said smugly that:
“This was just an experiment. I’m not going to spend that kind of money on a LP, especially when I own so many good versions.”

No. You’re not getting my copy of “Armed Forces” back. F*ck off.

And I guess you’ll be hearing a lot more from me and my credit card.

I hate you

Love
Adam Gates

 

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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More Trust

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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 – 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…)