Monday, 11 July 2016

"This Year's Model: Deluxe Edition" by ELVIS COSTELLO and THE ATTRACTIONS (2008 Universal 2CD 'DELUXE EDITION' Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"…Pump It Up…"

Coming off the back of an exceptional debut LP only a year earlier  "My Aim Is True" - Elvis Costello's 1978 follow-up album "This Year's Model" made good on that promise and excitement. Hardly surprising that both records have been afforded the praise of a Universal DELUXE EDITION each - bolstered up with new remasters, bonus cuts and previously unreleased goodies. Here are the little triggers...

UK released April 2008 - "This Year's Model: DELUXE EDITION" by ELVIS COSTELLO and THE ATTRACTIONS on Universal 00602517606333 (Barcode 602517606319) is a 2CD set and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (69:50 minutes):
1. No Action
2. This Year's Girl
3. The Beat
4. Pump It Up
5. Little Triggers
6. You Belong To Me
7. Hand In Hand [Side 2]
8. (I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea
9. Lip Service
10. Living In Paradise
11. Lipstick Value
12. Night Rally

13. Radio, Radio [see NOTE]

Tracks 1 to 12 are the 12-track UK version of the LP "This Year's Model" released March 1978 on Radar RAD 3. The first 50,000 British copies (5000 stickered as Radar XX LP 11) came with a free 2-track 7"single - "Stranger In The House" b/w "Neat, Neat, Neat (Live)" (on Radar SAM 83) - only the B-side is included on this set - see 20 below.

Note: "(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea" and "Night Rally" were dropped from the American LP on Columbia JC 35331 (released April 1978) - replaced with "Radio, Radio" as the last track on Side 2. In other words - to sequence the 11-track US version of the original LP use tracks 1 to 6 for Side 1 and tracks 7, 9, 10, 11 and 13 for Side 2.

BONUS MATERIAL: B-sides, Demos, Live Tracks, Alternates, Etc.
14. Big Tears (non-album track, B-side of "Pump It Up" - a UK 7" single released April 1978 on Radar ADA 10 - features MICK JONES of THE CLASH on Guitar. Also the B-side of "This Year's Girl" in the USA released 1978 on Columbia 3-10762)
15. Crawling To The USA (unique compilation track, first released on the US Soundtrack album "Americathon" released 1979 on Columbia JS 36174 - also featured on the US album "Taking Liberties" released 1980 on Columbia JC 36839)
16. Tiny Steps (non-album track, B-side to "Radio, Radio" - a UK 7" single released October 1978 on Radar ADA 24)
17. Running Out Of Angels (Demo Version)
18. Greenshirt (Demo Version)
19. Big Boys (Demo Version) (17, 18 and 19 first issued as bonus tracks on the 2001 2CD reissue of "This Year's Model")
20. Neat, Neat, Neat (Live) - the first 50,000 British copies of the LP (5000 stickered as Radar XX LP 11) came with a free 2-track 7" single - "Stranger In The House" b/w "Neat, Neat, Neat (Live)" (on Radar SAM 83). This is that B-side.
21. Roadette Song (Live)
22. This Year's Girl (Alternate Eden Studios Version)
23. (I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea (Alternate Basin Street Studios Version) - tracks 21, 22 and 23 first issued as bonus tracks on the 2001 2CD reissue of "This Year's Model")

Disc 2 - "Live At The Warner Theater, Washington D.C. 28 February 1978" - 62:33 minutes:
1. Pump It Up
2. Waiting For The End Of The World
3. No Action
4. Less Than Zero
5. The Beat
6. (The Angels Want To Wear My) Red Shoes
7. (I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea
8. Hand In Hand
9. Little Triggers
10. Radio, Radio
11. You Belong To Me
12. Lipstick Vogue
13. Watching The Detectives
14. Mystery Dance
15. Miracle Man
16. Blame It On Cain
17. Chemistry Class
All tracks on Disc are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED except for "Chemistry Class" - which was first issued on the "Armed Forces" 2CD edition in 2001.

The DE has been produced by Elvis Costello with the help of Universal's Bill Levenson (the original album was produced by NICK LOWE) and features a 4-way foldout card digipak with one of those peel-off DE bandanas across the bottom. The 24-page oversized booklet has lyrics, in-studio photos, publicity shots and discography credits. There's a couple of things that irk though - there's no liner notes (what would it have taken to chuck a couple of paragraphs together especially as the man himself was available for interview) - and where the hell is "Stranger In The House" that came with original British LPs as the A-side to the free single? There was room on the first disc so its absence smacks of sloppiness (it's on the DE on "My Aim is True" if you want it). If this is a definitive DE version - then include what came with the original album. But for me that all goes largely by-the-by because of the remaster and the live set...

The audio has been handled by no less than three experts in their field - all of whom I've praised before - BILL INGLOT (huge swaths of Rhino reissues) and SUHA GUR with ELLEN FITTON (large amounts of Motown and Universal's catalogue). I love the new power they've brought out of tracks like "This Year's Girl" and "You Belong To Me" - where Pete Thomas's drums whack your speakers with force and clarity and Steve Nieve's fairground keyboards squeak in the background with just that little bit more punch.

The album opens with his acidic "No Action" while the "two to tango" jabs of "The Beat" sound amazing. I always thought "Pump It Up" was one of his best ever singles - I used to DJ it back in the Dublin day - and I can still see those `two tone' kids tearing up the dancefloor to its irresistible kick-ass backbeat. Things take a decidedly more mature tone with the brilliant and slyly sexy "Little Triggers" - a great song about a professional tease. That treated guitar has added menace at the beginning of "Hand In Hand" and with an edit - it could have been another killer single. Speaking of pep in its step - the "so attractive" "Lip Service" now sounds fantastic with that backing so much clearer. I always thought American fans were wrongly denied "Night Rally" - a tightly epic album-finisher replaced on their album with the hit "Radio, Radio".

"Big Tears" and "Tiny Steps" are wicked B-sides while the American LP exclusive "Crawling To The USA" is of the same frantic ilk. The clarity of the three demos is shockingly good as are the renditions - acoustic versions complete with the occasional false start - they would make `Unplugged' sessions blush. His live cover of Ian Dury's "Roadette's Song" sounds like an EC song in the first place while Disc 1 is bookended with two excellent (and professionally recorded) alternates of two album highlights - "This Year's Girl" and "(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea".

I was wondering if the live set on Disc 2 was just DE filler but its not. Excepting some serious speaker distortion at the beginning - the band is tight and totally on form (like Joe Jackson on a "Get Sharp" bender). Recorded months before the second album even showed up - what makes the American gig rock is the mixture of tracks from `both' the debut and "This Year's Model" - the crowd taking the old and the new in their stride because of how he cleverly placed the songs in the set. The Attractions take the audience with them on "Less Than Zero" and "The Beat" - while they rock "Red Shoes". By the time you get to the fabulous rocking "Blame It On Cain" - you're bopping in the living room - kinda wishing you'd been there.

Fans will know (with a sense of sadness even) that Elvis Costello's catalogue has been done just one too many times to be comfortable - but I'd argue with that this DE of "This Year's Model" with its improved sound and better than average extras - is the one to pump it up in your own living room...

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