Friday, April 9, 2010

Michael Fremer Album Review

Elvis Costello (reissue)
My Aim Is True

Stiff/Mobile Fidelity MFSL 1-329 180g LP

Produced by: Nick Lowe
Engineered by: Bazza
Mixed by: N/A
Mastered by: Shawn R. Britton at Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs

Review by: Michael Fremer

Though it was probably one of the most audacious debuts in rock history and quickly established him as one of the premier songwriters of his generation, Elvis Costello’s My Aim is True has always felt more like a publisher’s demo reel than as a recording intended for commercial release.

Backed up by members of the Bay area group Clover who were then living in the U.K. and recorded in a 24 hour hurry at a small suburban London studio for around $1500 My Aim is True still managed to capture the D.I.Y. spirit of the time so its sparse esthetic resonated with the intended audience.

Though Costello had toiled for almost a decade, his success was deemed “overnight” because the album seemed to take off as quickly as it had been recorded. In short order, thanks to My Aim Is True, Elvis Costello became a major rock star.

While the quality of the songs like “Alison” and “The Angels Want to Wear My Red Shoes” trumped the glazed, often distant, indistinct sound (not to mention the outlandish Buddy Holly meets cerebral palsy cover pose and the cartoonish name Declan McManus chose for himself), My Aim is True has always been difficult to listen to, especially on a good audio system—until now.

I’ve got an original UK Stiff pressing (that omits the single “Watching the Detectives” only found on the American Columbia issue) mastered by the great George “Porky” Peckham and I would never bet against any “Porky Prime Cut,” but in this case, the guys at Mobile Fidelity have not only beat Porky, they’ve produced a near miracle!

Heretofore buried in the glaze instruments now appear with utter clarity thanks to the timbral honesty and transparency of the new transfer from the original master tape. While the tracks are still raw and basic, they have newfound polish, body and three-diimensionality. If you’re a fan of this pre-Attractions album, I think you’ll be absolutely astonished by what Mobile Fidelity has done here.

You know the old expression “you can’t polish a turd?” Well as great as the music is here, the album has always been a sonic turd on vinyl (the Columbia original is markedly inferior to the Stiff “Porky” pressing) and on any of the multiple CD reissues from Ryko to Rhino to UMG. Not so on this reissue.

Somehow Mobile Fidelity has removed the edge and glaze and not by smothering and softening, but rather by stripping away the unpleasantness to reveal an honest, supple, remarkably three-dimensional and immediate recording. I don’t know how they did it or why no one else who tried managed, but they did.

The gatefold incorporates lyrics and images of the master tape boxes and Mobile Fidelity has generously and wisely included “Watching the Detectives.” Add a fine 180 RTI pressing and you have one of Mobile Fidelity’s most significant reissues. “Resurrection” might be a more appropriate word for what’s been done.

I’m not saying Mobile Fidelity has turned My Aim is True into an audiophile sonic spectacular, but if you’re a long time fan of this album, when you hear the details that have been uncovered, along with the rhythmic clarity and certainty that’s been previously missing on every other issue, you may conclude they have.

Thanks to Michael over at  for the exclusive rights to reprint this material.

Copyright © 2008 & Michael Fremer - All rights reserved Reprinted by permission

Music News & Notes

Blur to release single for independent stores

Blur are set to release a new single for the first time in seven years.

It is thought that just 1,000 copies of the record will be issued to highlight Record Store Day, supporting independently-owned music shops. A title for the new material is yet to be revealed and its release will mark the first single from Damon Albarn, Alex James, Graham Coxon, and Dave Rowntree since Good Song in 2003.

It is understood the single will contain two brand new tracks, and further details are likely to be revealed next week.

The foursome reunited for a string of gigs last summer and featured in the documentary No Distance Left To Run. Albarn said in a statement: ''We want independent record stores to continue - they're an important part of our musical culture. Music is a simple way for Blur to show our support and we hope people like it.''

Although sources say the single is a one-off, it is likely to fuel hopes among the Britpop heroes' fans that further new material could be in the pipeline.


Mates Of State Announce Covers Album Details

Mates of State have revealed a few details about their forthcoming covers album, ‘Crushes‘. The album, which will feature covers of 10 various artists, is set for release this summer. The album features covers from artists including The Mars Volta, Death Cab For Cutie, and Belle & Sebastian.

The forthcoming album is the duo’s first full length release and was recorded and produced by Mates Jason Hammel and Kori Gardner themselves.


Beatles and Lily Allen go vinyl for Record Store Day

The Rolling Stones, The Flaming Lips and Bat For Lashes are some of the other big names participating in the festivities courtesy of the Parlophone label. Each release will be limited to 1,000 copies and come in a vintage-style paper Parlophone house bag, available exclusively from independent record stores taking part in the event.

"Parlophone and our artists recognise the importance of our indie stores and their contribution to not only our new and developing artists but to our catalogue as a whole," said Parlophone president Miles Leonard of the limited-edition releases. Being able to support this campaign with some great seven-inch releases from the Beatles to Bat for Lashes is our way of thanking them for their continued support."

The full list of Record Store Day releases:

The Beatles: Paperback Writer/Rain

Lily Allen: Back To The Start/Kabul Shit

Babyshambles: Side Of The Road/UnBiloTitled

Bat For Lashes: Howl! (live at De La Warr Pavillion)/Wild Is The Wind (live at Grove Music Studios)

Tinie Tempah: Pass Out/Pass Out (SBTRKT Remix)

Chiddy Bang: Opposite Of Adults/Sooner Or Later

Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse: Just War (featuring Gruff Rhys)/Just War (instrumental)

Eliza Doolittle: Pack Up/Rollerblades

Hot Chip: I Feel Bonnie (featuring Bonnie 'Prince' Billie)/Bear Witness

Jónsi: Do Do/Boy Lilikoi

Pet Shop Boys: Love Life/A Powerful Friend


TWIN TIGERS ON TOUR--Select Dates with The Hold Steady*

April 17--Give It Up State! Festival--Clemson, SC
April 20--Tin Roof--Charleston, SC
April 29--Neighborhood Theatre--Charlotte, NC
April 30--Nightlight--Chapel Hill, NC
May 1--The Fire--Philadelphia, PA
May 3--Cameo Gallery--Brooklyn, NY
May 4--Pianos--New York, NY
May 6--Garfield Artworks--Pittsburg, PA
May 7--The Red and Black Room--Washington, DC
**May 22 & May 23--The Social--Orlando, FL**
**May 25--Live Wire Music Hall--Savannah, GA**
** May 26--40 Watt Club--Athens, GA**
**May 27--Variety Playhouse--Atlanta, GA**

::WATCH Twin Tigers Video - "Red Fox Run"::
~~Directed by Robert U. Thomason~~

This Date In Music History-April 9


Country singer Margo Smith (1942)

Terry Knight- Terry Knight and the Pack , Grand Funk Railroad (1943)

Gene Parsons - Byrds (1944)

Les Gray - Mud (1946)

Phillip Wright - Paper Lace (1948)

Hal Ketchum (1953)

Mark Kelly - Marillion (1961)

Joe Peters - Grant Lee Buffalo (1965)

Kevin Martin - Candlebox (1969)

Gerard Way - My Chemical Romance (1977)

Rachel Stevens - S Club 7 (1978)

Albert Hammond Jr - Strokes (1980)

Jesse McCartney (1987)

They Are Missed:

In 1976, American folk singer songwriter Phil Ochs, hung himself at his sister's home in Queens, New York. Wrote "There But A Fortune," a hit for Joan Baez.

Dave Prater of soul duo Sam & Dave was killed in 1988 when his car left the road and hit a tree in Syracuse, Georgia, on his way to his mother's house in Ocilla. He was 50. Recorded for Stax Records from 1965 - 1968, hits included "Soul Man" and "Hold On, I'm Coming."

Singer and songwriter Brook Benton died in 1988 (age 56). Scored over 20 US top 40 singles, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, he scored hits such as "It's Just A Matter Of Time" and "Endlessly" and made a comeback in 1974 when he had the #4 hit "Rainy Night In Georgia."

Songwriter Mae Boren Axton died in 1997 (age 82) after drowning in her bath at her home in Hendersonville, Tennessee after an apparent heart attack. Known as the 'Queen Mother of Nashville' she wrote over 200 songs including a co-writing credit on the Elvis Presley hit "Heartbreak Hotel." Mother of country singer, songwriter Hoyt Axton.

Born on this day in 1932, Carl Perkins, American singer, songwriter, guitarist, (1956 US #2 & single "Blue Suede Shoes"). Perkins' songs were recorded by artists Elvis Presley, The Beatles, and Johnny Cash. Perkins died on 19th Jan 1998 (age 65).

In 2009, Randy Cain, a founding member of US soul group The Delfonics died at his home in Maple Shade, New Jersey at the age of 63. The Philadelphia group, whose hits include "La-La (Means I Love You)," won an R&B Grammy in 1970 for their song "Didn't I Blow Your Mind This Time."


Elvis Presley performed at the L.C. Humes High School talent contest in 1953, singing "Keep Them Cold, Icy Fingers Off Of Me" (he gets the most applause and is allowed to sing an encore of "Til I Waltz Again With You").

Gene Vincent recorded the classic rock 'n roll song "Be Bop-A-Lula" in 1956, which went on to be a US & UK Top 20 hit in this year.

In 1963, the Beatles appeared live on the ITV show Tuesday Rendezvous, miming "From Me to You" and "Please Please Me" (during the closing credits). In the evening The Beatles played live at the Gaumont State Cinema, Kilburn, London.

In 1965, Bruce Johnston joined the Beach Boys as the permanent replacement for Brian Wilson.

The Rolling Stones made their first live appearance on British TV's "Ready Steady Go!" in 1965.

Percy Sledge's "When A Man Loves A Woman" was released in 1966.

The Righteous Brothers started a three week run at #1 on the US singles chart in 1966 with "You're My Soul And Inspiration."

The Doors and The Jefferson Airplane appeared at Cheetah, Santa Monica Pier, Venice, California in 1967. This was the largest show The Doors had played to date with a crowd of over 3,000

Paul McCartney quits the Beatles in 1970 (the group's breakup is announced to the press the next day).

Paul McCartney released the song "My Love" in 1973.

The Jackson 5 played the first of 15 shows at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas in 1974.

Abba went to #1 on the US singles chart in 1977 with "Dancing Queen," the group's 7th US Top 40 hit and first #1.

Billy Ocean started a two week run at #1 on the US singles chart in 1988 with "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car."

In 1992, Fort Smith, AR resident Sean Pierce is walking home wearing a T-shirt he purchased the day before at a Van Halen concert when he’s arrested for “violating a statute against wearing a smutty shirt.” The shirt has the title of one of the group's albums printed on it: "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.” How could anyone have a problem with that? Van Halen offers to pay Pierce's fine.

Pantera entered the US album chart at #1 in 1994 with 'Far Beyond Driven.'

R. Kelly started a four week run at #1 on the US singles chart in 1994 with "Bump N' Grind," his first US #1 hit.

Soundgarden officially disbanded in 1997.

NSYNC started a seven week run at #1 on the US album chart in 2000 with ‘No Strings Attached.’

In 2008, R.E.M.'s "Accelerate" sells 115,000 copies in its first week to land at #2 on the Billboard 200 (U.S.). The album makes its debut at #1 in the United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland and the Czech Republic and #2 in Germany, Italy, Holland and Austria.

Also in 2008, Green Day admitted (in an email to MTV) that they are also the Garage Rock band Foxboro Hot Tubs. The group posted a downloadable EP titled "Stop Drop and Roll!!!" for free a couple months earlier.

When You're Strange: A Film About The Doors is released in select US theaters in 2010. The biographical film, charting the group’s rise and fall, is narrated by actor Johnny Depp.