Unbiased reviews of new vinyl releases, audiophile reissues, and more

Monday, July 26, 2010

Elvis Costello: This Year's Model -- Mofi 180 Gram Vinyl

Mofi is back with This Year's Model, the 1978 follow-up to Elvis Costello's debut album, My Aim is True, which they reissued earlier this year on 180 gram vinyl. This Year's Model was recorded with what would become his legendary backing band, The Attractions. It offers more of the catchy hooks, cynical lyrics, and propulsive beat, that introduced him to the world with My Aim is True, but adds more keyboard and synthesizer, bringing him to the fore of the New Wave movement.

Mofi uses the U.K. artwork for this release, but utilizes the U.S. tracklisting, which adds the hit, Radio, Radio--but loses Night Rally and the ska-pop tune, (I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea.  The 180 gram vinyl arrived clean, flat and played quietly throughout. The gatefold cover, which is made of heavy cardstock, features the original artwork printed on the inner gatefold.

(Elvis Costello and The Attractions)

In preparing this review, I pulled out my George Peckham mastered "Porky Prime Cut" U.K Radar original vinyl for comparison. The Mofi vinyl, mastered by Shawn Britton, is more dynamic, has bigger bass, and has a fuller overall tonality compared to the original U.K. vinyl.  Everything is smoother--and the trace of harshness that can sometimes be heard on the edge of Costello's vocals is gone on the Mofi--even at the end of the sides.

All of this adds up to a great sounding record, with some cuts on the Mofi, such as, On the Beat--with its ever-prominent bassline, and Little Triggers--with Costello's vocals displaying a new richness, clearly sounding better than the U.K. Still, I found myself preferring the original U.K. vinyl, both for the original tracklisting as well as for its upper midrange energy, which gives the music a drive and urgency that the Mofi eschews in favor of a fuller, smoother presentation.

Mofi has released a very good sounding version of this record. If you already have the original U.K. and are happy with it, this version isn't mandatory. However, if you've never quite been happy with the U.K.--or if your system tends towards leanness, this latest version might just be what you're looking for.

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Michael said...

Ooh, this sounds fantastic. The original vinyl already sounded so good. Nick Lowe's production was just so spot on, clean and no-nonsense which you have to admire. Definitely getting this.

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