Hi-Fi News & Record Review, March 2010

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Hi-Fi News & Record Review


Mo-Fi Elvis

Paul Hawkins

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.


Hi-Fi News & Record Review, March 2010

Paul Hawkins profiles Elvis Costello and reviews the Mobile Fidelity releases of My Aim Is True, This Year's Model and Armed Forces.


2010-03-00 Hi-Fi News & Record Review page 68.jpg
Page scan.

2010-03-00 Hi-Fi News & Record Review cover.jpg 2010-03-00 Hi-Fi News & Record Review page 69.jpg
Cover and page scan.


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