Almost Blue by Elvis Costello
Costellos Soulful Country & Western Covers Album Tackles Standard Tunes by George Jones, Hank Williams, Gram Parsons, and More
Expertly Played 1981 Set Marks the Second of the Encyclopedic Pop Musicians Many Forays Into Multiple Styles
Half-Speed Mastered from the Original Master Tapes: Knockout Sonics Present Costellos Close-Up Vocals, Steve Nieves Piano, and the Pedal-Steel Guitars in Great Relief
Elvis Costello was so enamored with American country music when he finally discovered it, he was motivated to record Almost Blue. Renowned as one of the most passionate and enthusiastic covers albums ever made, the 12-song set finds the iconic singer/songwriter interpreting standards by the likes of Hank Williams, Gram Parsons, George Jones, Merle Haggard, and other legends. Replete with heartbreak, lonesomeness, boozing, cheating, and dreaming, its laden with country and westerns customary themes and dignified by one of the finest performances of Costello and the Attractions peerless career.
Half-speed mastered from the original master tapes, Mobile Fidelitys numbered limited edition 180g LP opens up the soundstages, clears previously muddled midrange frequencies, and places the imaging of the various country-tuned instruments into clear focus. For the first time, listeners can hear just how much of himself Costello invests in the vocal performances, while the Attractions dont miss a beat, particularly pianist Steve Nieve and guest musician John McFee. Moreover, the strings (when employed) take on new life, and the records cover art, a take-off on Kenny Burrells Midnight Blue, is faithfully reproduced.
At the time of the albums recording in 1981, Costello was admittedly emotionally shattered. The title of the effort isnt merely coincidental. Feeling dejected and disenchanted, the vocalist had been put through the ringer: His pop stardom yielded one incredible record after another, but Costellos marriage was in tatters, his behavior deplorable, and his reputation tarnished by a famous drunken incident that shamed him for decades. In addition, he chose to follow his string of original LPs up with the soul- and R&B-minded Get Happy, a creative masterwork that nonetheless caused some of his mainstream fans to believe hed abandon his hit-making pedigree.
So he did what any self-respecting, astute musician would want to do: Cut a country and western record steeped in heartbreak, fragility, sadness, despair, and beer-glass-raising spirit. Largely informed by the stacks of country LPs he bought in used shops during U.S. tours, and in the ideal frame of mind, Costello sought out not to make standards such as Sweet Dreams, Too Far Gone, Honey Hush, and Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down his own but to put a unique spin on the darkness, surprise, soulfulness, foreboding, and authenticity that they contain within.
With each note, Costello succeeds and exceeds expectations, turning in versions that sound both old and new. Such timelessness, and the confluence of contemporary and traditional, distinguishes Almost Blue from nearly every other country tribute album made by pop/rock artists before and since. Costello and the Attractions embody the deep sentiments attached to these weeping ballads, tear-jerking lullabies, honky-tonk rave-ups, and playful shuffles in an incredibly convincing manner. Producer George Sherrill, famous for working with the likes of Tammy Wynette, George Jones, and Marty Robbins, and brought on board specifically for the project, frames the music with the perfect blend of grit and professionalism.
1. Why Don't You Love Me (Like You Used to Do)? (Hank Williams)
2. Sweet Dreams (Don Gibson)
3. Success (Johnny Mullins)
4. Hot Burrito #1 (Gram Parsons, Chris Ethridge)
5. Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down (Merle Haggard)
6. Brown to Blue (George Jones, Virginia Franks)
7. A Good Year for the Roses (Jerry Chesnut)
8. Sittin' and Thinkin' (Charlie Rich)
9. Colour of the Blues (Lawton Williams, George Jones)
10. Too Far Gone (Billy Sherrill)
11. Honey Hush (Lou Willie Turner)
12. How Much I Lied (Gram Parsons, Pam Rifkin)
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Vinyl records are able to capture the purest quality of recorded music in true form. This is possible because the initial recording is captured on an analog source (usually tape) for the ultimate in High Fidelity sound, it is then pressed onto virgin vinyl. Analog recordings capture the bottom end (or bass) while adding sweetness to the high end (or treble) better than any digital recording ever could. Analog systems are still commonly used before they are digitally transferred to CD. This means that the sound then is altered in the transfer process when CD's are produced. The word fidelity means accuracy and faithfulness. High Fidelity sound is faithful to the original sound made by the artist, capturing maximum accuracy of what was intended for the listener to hear. Vinyl records capture those sounds for the ultimate High Fidelity listening experience!
180/200 GRAM Vinyl LP
These vinyl records are produced with 180 or 200 grams of high definition premium grade virgin vinyl. This is a higher quality audiophile pressing than the typical vinyl record of 100-120 grams. These limited edition LP's are manufactured with the hi-fi enthusiast in mind. A 180 or 200 gram LP is sometimes also referred to as an audiophile pressing, there is a higher bass response and an even warmer High Fidelity sound. 180 or 200 grams LP's are typically manufactured in limited amounts and are considered collectables, commanding a higher price.
Typically, a vinyl reissue is a repressing of an original LP, usually extracted from the recording's master-tapes. In some cases, reissues are remastered to lower surface noise and improve overall sonics. Reissues help preserve the music of an original recording, especially when original LPs become unavailable or can no longer be found. Reissues can be pressed on a variety of thickness from 150 gram to 200 gram and offer a great opportunity for records collectors to own many classic recordings.