Mobile Fidelity has been
producing superb audiophile
re-issues since the late '70s and,
under new ownership since 2001,
continues to lead the market when
it comes to unearthing classics from pop
music’s past. In 2010 things go full circle
as the label re-issues key albums by an
artist who started his career around the
same time the label began.
Elvis Costello originally released his
first single on Stiff Records in 1977, a year
after the label became affiliated with the
punk movement forever with the release of
"New Rose" by The Damned. Many thought
he’d missed the boat as a new wave artist,
yet his radio-friendly melodies and catchy
singalong choruses soon caught the
nation’s attention. That first single "Less
Than Zero" saw Elvis backed by a US West
Coast rhythm section called Clover (who
later became Huey Lewis’s band The News)
and the international potential was realised
upon release of his groundbreaking first
album, My Aim Is True.
Elvis’s influences came from the heart
of rock 'n' roll — the resemblance to Buddy
Holly, plus the pilfering of The King’s name
for his stage moniker surely being no
coincidence — although his quick witted
lyrics and punk attitude kept his sound
up to date. His amazing debut album
produced a brace of hits — "Alison" and
"Watching The Detectives" — cementing
Elvis’s place in music history.
For the follow up, This Year's Model, Elvis
takes things up a gear, and also introduces
us to his new backing band The Attractions.
Many of the songs were written and
developed during the band’s hectic touring
schedule, and the result is the feel and
frenetic pace of a live set with the opener
"No Action" and incendiary "Pump It Up"
proving the point. In fact the album barely
breaks the 30-minute benchmark.
Wisely the band saw fit to take it down
a peg or two for their third LP, Armed Forces, Clearly a talented songwriter,
Elvis showcases a more varied style here,
and while the album’s most memorable
moment, "Oliver’s Army," is as upbeat as
ever, the likes of "Accidents Will Happen"
and "Goon Squad" provide more thought
provoking moments as they capture the
mood of political unrest in late ’70s Britain.
Fast forward to 2010 and we all know
how varied and textured Elvis Costello’s
songwriting was to become, especially
in the last few years as he nurtures his
passion for American roots with Momofuku,
and Secret Profane & Sugarcane, not to
mention countless appearances with
the cream of Americana (Alison Krauss,
Rosanne Cash and Jenny Lewis to name
but a few). However, those first three
groundbreaking LPs stand the test of time,
sounding as fresh today on Mobile Fidelity’s
fantastic audiophile reproductions as they
did the first time around.