Elvis Costello and the Attractions – Get Happy

“High fidelity/Can you hear me?” asks Elvis Costello on the hit from Get Happy, the song cleverly adopting the phrase associated with accurate sound reproduction and using it in the service of describing a fractured relationship. His intention aside, listeners can finally answer the rhetorical question with a sonorous “Yes!”

Mobile Fidelity did an admirable job resurrecting the first three Costello albums, but Get Happy arrives as the audiophile imprint’s masterpiece. Partially because the iconic singer/guitarist’s outstanding 1980 R&B- and soul-drenched studio effort has always begged for more groove space. Featuring 20 tracks crammed onto two sides of a 33RPM record, the original LP is a nightmare of compression and inner groove distortion. (Can anyone say Something, Anything?) No more. Now you can enjoy Get Happy in a way most never thought possible due to the extensive extra room opened up by changing to the 45RPM format.

The new pressing begins with “Love For Tender” on side one, but follows the order of the original cover on the flipside of the jacket, showing “I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down” as the first track. Side four benefits the least from the MoFi treatment. Songs here still lack dynamics and dimension, yet they’re not in as bad of shape as before.

Revisiting an early copy of Get Happy proved as scary as remembered. The vinyl sounds like AM radio: noisy and zero dynamic range, while the CD adds yet another layer of harshness. Residual compression still exists even at 45RPM, yet the MoFi version is light years ahead. Costello’s voice possesses a lot more body, and the vocal processing is easier to digest. The biggest treat comes via the clarity in which Steve Nieve’s organ parts resonate. “B Movie” and “Motel Madness” are perhaps the best examples; no longer buried in the mix, Nieve finally shines.

Car aficionados like to say “there’s no substitute for cubic inches.” The same holds true for a vinyl record—one can only fit so much musical information in those tiny grooves. Along with dynamics, bass response suffers when tracks are tightly squeezed together. And while the original Get Happy offers no real bass, this pressing has a proper foundation—as well as increased presence of guitar and keyboards.

High fidelity? Indeed. Pitch your old copy and revel in the ability to crank this one up. —Jeff Dorgay

Mobile Fidelity, 180g 45RPM 2LP