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Costello & the Attractions Return to Mainstream Pop on Slick-Sounding 1983 Album
Mobile Fidelity LP Digs Into Smooth Tones, Brassy Effects, Limber Bass Lines, Multiple Layers of Production
Includes Sparkling Top 40 Hit Everyday I Write the Book As Well as Timeless Political Songs Shipbuilding and Pills and Soap
Razor-Sharp Wit, Concise Melodies on Display Throughout; Jazz Legend Chet Baker Guests
Punch the Clock is Elvis Costello & the Attractions most British record, a return to mainstream pop craft loaded with clever barbs and insightful social commentary that nearly landed the headliner in serious trouble with government representatives. Produced by the English hit-making team of Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, the jumpy and horn-accompanied 1983 effort includes Costellos first-ever American Top 40 hit (Everyday I Write the Book) and a smooth sheen that reinforces the materials commercial intent and catchy appeal.
Half-speed mastered from the original master tapes, Mobile Fidelitys numbered limited edition 180g LP presents the hyper-literate fidelity and refined melodies in astonishing sonics, navigating the multiple layers of information, brassy effects, and background vocals to present a unified whole replete with stellar front-to-back depth. Akin to the reissue labels previous acclaimed Costello reissues, Punch the Clock is vastly improved, the opened-up perspective, pronounced instrumental separation, and textural clarity enhancing all the details within the grooves.
Fresh from making a country tribute album and a large-scale set flush with complex arrangements, Costello and Co. return to straight-ahead pop given a decidedly British accent and soulful backing vocals. Conscious of the Merseybeat sound and success of Dexys Midnight Runners, Costello tints songs with new-wave characteristics, splashy horns, and spontaneous vocal-response support courtesy of female duo Afrodiziak, one member of which later attained fame with Soul II Soul. Steve Nieves bounding piano lines dance throughout the arrangements, adding witty pizzazz and delicate allure to already-tuneful fare like The Element Within Her and Mouth Almighty.
The more direct, hook-ready approach also manifests on numbers such as Let Them All Talk and Charm School, tunes that also illustrate the contrasts in romantic theme. While remaining deeply cynical, as was his longtime hallmark, Costello unfurls two compositions on which love and marriage are viewed in a positive light. Yet he spares no one, nothing, and minces no words with Shipbuilding and Pills and Soap, fare that remains revered in his native country as well as abroad.
For Shipbuilding, a brilliantly disguised 88s-clinking protest against war influenced by the Falkan Conflict, Costello enlists jazz legend Chet Baker to deliver a masterfully poignant, bluesy trumpet solo that echoes throughout the coda. On the hip-hop-inspired Pills and Soap, a thinly veiled metaphor addressing Britains abusive sociopolitical state and royal officials, the bespectacled bandleader invents a thoroughly unique quasi-rap draped over a drum-machine beat and Nieves bold piano chords. Bracing.
Numbered, Limited Edition
Production and 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
Elvis Costello, epiphone, Gretsch and Fender guitars, 'One-finger' Synclavier and Casiotone
Steve Nieve, Bosendorfer piano, Emulator Fairlight CMI, Vox organ, Hammond organ, Synclavier
Bruce Thomas, Electric Wal bass guitar
Pete Thomas, Gretsch drums, Sabian cymbals
The TKO Horns
Jim Paterson, trombone
Jeff Blythe, alto sax, baritone sax, clarinet
Paul Speare, tenor sax, flute
Dave Plews, trumpet
Stuart Robson, trumpet and flugelhorn on "The World And His Wife"
Caron Wheeler, backing vocals
Claudia Fontaine, backing vocals
Chet Baker, trumpet solo on "Shipbuilding"
David Bedford, string arrangements
Morris Pert, percussion
1. Let Them All Talk
2. Everyday I Write the Book
3. The Greatest Thing
4. The Element Within Her
5. Love Went Mad
1. TKO (Boxing Day)
2. Charm School
3. The Invisible Man
4. Mouth Almighty
5. King Of Thieves
6. Pills And Soap
7. The World And His Wife