Universal Music's new reissue of Get Happy by Elvis Costello may be the best version yet outside of owning an original promo UK 10-inch 45 RPM edition. I've been assured by the folks at Universal that for these new remasters the producers of the series went back to the original master tapes on all the vinyl titles. Mastering was done at Capitol Studios.
And you know, it sounds it. Now, some of you may know my borderline ridiculous passion for this album (Elvis' 4th and my favorite in his catalog) and some of my disappointments over the years. You can read about that in my 2011 review of the Mobile Fidelity version for another publication at this link here.
So it was with great interest and hope I went into this review that maybe, just maybe, the powers that be would get things right. I'm happy to say that for the most part they did!
This is the first version of Get Happy I've heard that could fill in for my original F-Beat Records import pressing... and in some ways it will! It sounds full and round, big prominent bass from Bruce Thomas jumping all over the place. Nice clean highs, crisp cymbal details and more.
The clincher for me came when comparing it to my 12-inch 45 RPM wide groove single version of the song "High Fidelity" -- this new LP version compares favorably, especially when I turned up the amp real loud. The deciding factor for me was in the way that Bruce Thomas' bass behaved coming out of the speakers, particularly when he leaps from the the trebly notes up high on the fretboard to the low (quite possibly) open-string sounding notes at the bottom end. Those low notes push some air from my speakers on the 12-inch so a point where I can almost feel the bass in the room. On the new Universal version it does almost the same thing, albeit a bit more subdued since the grooves are closer together (thus I had to turn up the amp a little louder). But still, the effect was there.
Also, another important detail I noticed: even at the loud volumes, my ears were not feeling any sort of pain or discomfort. So, while I have no idea if the final mastering stages were done in the digital realm or if it was all analog, this is one of those instances where I have to simply rely on my ears. And, whatever the case, in this instance my ears are telling me that this new Get Happy is a happy thing to hear, indeed.
Even though the label didn't include a reproduction of the original poster that graced the original UK pressings, that is ok in the grand scheme of things. After all, it will give you, Dear Readers, a reason to go out and find an original copy as well to complement your spiffy new reissue.
C'mon, Get Happy!!