Trust  Gets a Detail Wringing By Mobile Fidelity

At the top of the Costello album heap (not there alone, though), Trust issued in 1981 is Elvis Costello peaking in anger and disillusionment and coupling his discontent to wiry melodic constructions riding atop tautly tensioned rhythms. The album title is obviously ironic.

The tawdry "New Lace Sleeves" makes you want to shower after listening: "ministers go crawling undercover", "good manners and bad breath get you nowhere"—the song is packed with memorably uncomfortable post-coital images.

If his angry young artist pose was at first a character building ploy, here he's clearly reflecting in the lyrics his life and the world around him in general. In "Clubland" he asks "Have you ever been had in Clubland"—a not particularly wholesome or inviting metaphorical place that serves as warning shot for what Costello brings to a record full of warnings, recriminations and seamy scenes.

For instance, in "Shot With His Own Gun" Costello sets the scene with "How does it feel now you've been undressed by a man with a mind like the gutter press". The rhythmically seductive "Strict Time" reflects (negatively) on courtship rituals: "The courting cold wars weekend witch trial/
Strict time
All the boys are straight laced and the girls are frigid
The talk is two-faced and the rules are rigid 'cause it's strict time

. The countrified (please put your ring on a) "Different Finger" includes this memorable toss-off: "All I want is one night of glory/ I don't even know your second name." This is an album deserving of a lyric sheet but the internet provides a good substitute. Despite the acid hurled into dark corners the rhythmic propulsion provided by The Attractions drummer Pete Thomas keeps things moving at an energizing pace. Nick Lowe's varied production is gimmick-free and provides a wide range of musical landscapes within spare, open-spaced arrangements.

The result is an album that you can listen to repeatedly and always find something new to appreciate, aided by what I think is one of Costello's best sounding recordings—particularly the cleanly rendered tom, snare and cymbal sound. Keyboards are juicy too.

Mobile Fidelity couldn't release this one for the longest time because the master tape had gone missing but it was definitely worth the wait! The original F-Beat U.K. pressing mastered by the great George "Porky Prime Cut" Peckham always sounded great and still does. The clarity and transient precision of the cymbals on "New Lace Sleeve" are demo-quality.

Overall, the original U.K. pressing is somewhat warmer and softer than this reissue and it's still a great rendering but in terms of rhythmic expression, detail resolution ad bottom end "whomp" (with clarity), this reissue beats the original in every way.

I'm not saying you need every Elvis Costello album every made (unless you are hardcore), but this one is a "must have". It is certainly in the top four along with My Aim Is True, Armed Forces and Get Happy, which is one of Costello's most neglected and best records.

A great reissue job by Mobile Fidelity!

Music Direct Buy It Now

fetuso's picture

I just purchased my first Costello album, My Aim Is True, from Mofi. Looking forward to getting it and listening.

Gruppe-B's picture

great recommendation,thanks.i will look for this next time i'm record shopping.i still enjoy my hand-me-down original US copies of My Aim Is True,Armed Forces and This Year's all of the early albums~the later stuff,not so much:\

Paul Boudreau's picture

...ECs. Got a copy of the MoFi but haven't had a chance to listen to it yet.

I saw Chris Difford & Glenn Tilbrook (as Squeeze) last night at the Birchmere in Virginia. There was a Q&A session and one question was whether the two of them had ever essayed "From A Whisper To A Scream." Difford's comment was something like "I wouldn't know where to start!"

thomoz's picture

I would buy two copies and keep one sealed: 'Painted From Memory' on MFSL vinyl. Even the cd sounds amazing, hi-end stereo demo quality.

I am sure I am in the minority on this one, but I genuinely think his best work has all been since May 1996's 'All This Useless Beauty'.

AnalogJ's picture

Yes, that's a great album and great collaboration. Excellent sounding, too.

charliepress's picture

So this is not meant as an argument--but just a very, very, very huge Elvis Costello fan talking here. I don't put My Aim is True in my top 4 Elvis lps for either sound or quality--some amazing songs on it but to me doesn't hold up the way Imperial Bedroom does (and where is This Year's Model?) The fact is that Elvis, to me, sounds best with the attractions, not the Huey Lewis and the News bandmates on My Aim is True.

As for sound quality, the MoFi of My Aim is True is the best version I have heard--and I always thought the sound of this vinyl was muddy (incluidng my original UK press). But the sound of Imperial Bedroom on Mofi! Wow! It's like what Music Matters does for Blue Note. Any fan of Elvis Costello who goes beyond his very early lps will want Imperial Bedroom on MoFi

GeorgesCrochet's picture

I'd replace Get Happy with that album in the Top 4. After all, I regularly hear Pump It Up at baseball parks: what other Elvis song can claim that honor?

Chemguy's picture

Sonics are terrific. Great bottom end, and crisp high end. Trust was already a nice recording, and this just makes it better. I got it on Michael’s recommendation, so thanks Mr. F on a fine review.

Hey all...You better watch your step!