Mobile Fidelity - MFSL 1-335 - 180 Gram Virgin Vinyl - 821797133517
AAA 100% Analogue - Numbered Limited Edition - Pressed at RTI
Pure Analogue Mastered by Kreig Wunderlich from the Original Master Tape at MFSL
Half Speed Mastered on the Mobile Fidelity The Gain 2 Ultra Analog System
Sound 8/10 Analogue Planet Michael Fremmer
Mastered from the Original Master Tapes:
Knockout Sonics Present Costello’s Close-Up Vocals, Steve Nieve’s Piano, and the Pedal-Steel Guitars in Great Relief
Elvis Costello was so enamored with American country music when he finally discovered it, he was motivated to record Almost Blue. Renowned as one of the most passionate and enthusiastic covers albums ever made, the 12-song set finds the iconic singer/songwriter interpreting standards by the likes of Hank Williams, Gram Parsons, George Jones, Merle Haggard, and other legends.
Replete with heartbreak, lonesomeness, boozing, cheating, and dreaming, it’s laden with country and western’s customary themes and dignified by one of the finest performances of Costello and the Attractions’ peerless career. Half-speed mastered from the original master tapes, Mobile Fidelity’s numbered limited edition 180g LP opens up the soundstages, clears previously muddled midrange frequencies, and places the imaging of the various country-tuned instruments into clear focus. For the first time, listeners can hear just how much of himself Costello invests in the vocal performances, while the Attractions don’t miss a beat, particularly pianist Steve Nieve and guest musician John McFee. Moreover, the strings (when employed) take on new life, and the record’s cover art, a take-off on Kenny Burrell’s Midnight Blue, is faithfully reproduced. At the time of the album’s recording in 1981, Costello was admittedly emotionally shattered.
The title of the effort isn’t merely coincidental. Feeling dejected and disenchanted, the vocalist had been put through the ringer: His pop stardom yielded one incredible record after another, but Costello’s marriage was in tatters, his behavior deplorable, and his reputation tarnished by a famous drunken incident that shamed him for decades. In addition, he chose to follow his string of original LPs up with the soul- and R&B-minded Get Happy, a creative masterwork that nonetheless caused some of his mainstream fans to believe he’d abandon his hit-making pedigree. So he did what any self-respecting, astute musician would want to do: Cut a country and western record steeped in heartbreak, fragility, sadness, despair, and beer-glass-raising spirit. Largely informed by the stacks of country LPs he bought in used shops during U.S. tours, and in the ideal frame of mind, Costello sought out not to make standards such as “Sweet Dreams,” “Too Far Gone,” “Honey Hush,” and “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down” his own but to put a unique spin on the darkness, surprise, soulfulness, foreboding, and authenticity that they contain within.
With each note, Costello succeeds and exceeds expectations, turning in versions that sound both old and new. Such timelessness, and the confluence of contemporary and traditional, distinguishes Almost Blue from nearly every other country tribute album made by pop/rock artists before and since. Costello and the Attractions embody the deep sentiments attached to these weeping ballads, tear-jerking lullabies, honky-tonk rave-ups, and playful shuffles in an incredibly convincing manner. Producer George Sherrill, famous for working with the likes of Tammy Wynette, George Jones, and Marty Robbins, and brought on board specifically for the project, frames the music with the perfect blend of grit and professionalism.
• Numbered, Limited Edition • 33rpm Speed Edition
• Half- Speed Mastering by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab • Specially Plated and Pressed on 180 grams of High Definition Vinyl
• Special Static Free - Dust Free Inner Sleeve • Heavy Duty Protective Packaging
• Mastered from the Original Master Tapes • Pressed at RTI
Elvis Costello, guitar vocal
Pete Thomas, drums
Bruce Thomas, bass
Steve Nieve, piano organ
1. Why Don't You Love Me (Like You Used to Do)?
2. Sweet Dreams
4. I'm Your Toy
5. Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down
6. Brown To Blue
7. A Good Year for the Roses
8. Sittin' and Thinkin'
9. Colour of the Blues
10. Too Far Gone
11. Honey Hush
12. How Much I Lied
GAIN 2 Ultra Analog™ is a proprietary cutting system built and designed by legendary design genius Tim De Paravicini, with consultation from one of MFSL’s founding fathers – Stan Ricker, an audio engineer responsible for many of MFSL’s most heralded past releases.
The GAIN 2 Ultra Analog™ system is comprised of a Studer™ tape machine with customized reproduction electronics* and handcrafted cutting amps that drive an Ortofon cutting head on a restored Neumann VMS-70 lathe. (*It is worth noting that independent studies have confirmed that the GAIN 2 Ultra Analog™ system can unveil sonic information all the way up to 122kHz!)
First and foremost, we only utilize first generation original master recordings as source material for our releases. We then play back master tapes at half speed enabling the GAIN 2 Ultra Analog™ system to fully extract the master’s sonic information. Our lacquers are then plated in a specialized process that protects transients in the musical signal. (Due to this process, there may be occasional pops or ticks inherent in initial play back, but as the disc is played more, a high quality stylus will actually polish the grooves and improve the sound). We further ensure optimum sound quality by strictly limiting the number of pressings printed for each release. These limited editions, in addition to being collectors’ items, ensure that the quality of the last pressing matches the quality of the first.
As you can imagine, all these efforts involve a tremendous amount of time, technology, cost and effort. The introduction of GAIN 2 Ultra Analog™ maintains Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab’s position as the world’s leading audiophile record label, where a passion for music with extraordinary sound quality matters most.