Elvis Costello Blood & Chocolate on Numbered Edition 180g LP from Mobile Fidelity
Emotionally Cathartic Nick Lowe-Produced Blood & Chocolate Includes "I Want You," "I Hope You´re Happy Now," and "Uncomplicated"
Mastered from the Original Master Tapes and Pressed at RTI: Elvis Costello´s Guitar-Driven 1986 Album Teems With Stacked Rhythms, Tonalities, Punch, and Tension
Costello at His Most Vicious: Songs Rumble and Storm, Dark Humor and Biting Lyrics Address Tumult, Jealousy, Vindictiveness
Known in his youth as the "angry young man," Elvis Costello waited until 1986 to create the most vicious record of his career. Stripped to the studs and produced by Nick Lowe, Blood and Chocolate seethes with vindictiveness, spite, and rancor. The 11-track effort clatters with raw rock n´ roll menace and clangs with darkly humorous intent. Venomous, acerbic, and aggressive, it values rhythm and attack over harmony and melody. A volatile rite of passage on which harsh Telecaster riffs cut like razor blades and Costello spits words as if they were Molotov cocktails tossed at enemies, this is the satisfying sound of emotional catharsis.
Mastered from the original master tapes and pressed at RTI, this collectable edition of Blood and Chocolate joins Mobile Fidelity´s acclaimed Costello reissues series in presenting the icon´s vital records in rich, dynamic, three-dimensional analog sound. That´s never been truer than it is here. Costello and Co. recorded the songs in a large room at London´s Olympic Studios while playing at stage volumes, an unconventional approach that nonetheless suited the music´s raw feel. Nearly every track was done in three takes or less, with minimal vocal fixes and overdubs added immediately afterward. Such energy, spark, force, and pace thrive on this reissue.
Capturing the decibel-laden atmosphere that heightens the rhythmic pace and elevates the urgency of the deliveries, Mobile Fidelity´s 180g LP delivers the band´s performances with wall-of-sound hugeness and booming authority. And while this isn´t a record where subtlety reigns, listeners can now discern the acoustic guitar strummed by Lowe for the foundation of the savage "Uncomplicated" as well as the nuanced final bars of the inimitable "I Want You" on which each member´s instrumental track is switched off to bleed into Costello´s vocal microphone. Indeed, for all the apparent chaos, Steve Nieve´s keyboards even get accurate placement and imaging on this incredible pressing. Then there´s the temperament of the songs themselves—perhaps best described by Costello.
"The album title and Eamon Singer´s crude cover painting reflected some intense and uncertain situations. The record might have well been a blurred polaroid: a smashed-up room, a squashed box of chocolates, some broken glass and a little blood smeared on the wall," wrote the singer in 2002. "The album [is] a pissed-off 32-year-old divorce´s version of the musical blueprint with which I had begun my recording career with the Attractions." Indeed, the band—on the verge of fraying at the seams and at each other´s throats in close confines—pummels twanging chords, beats up on notes, turns up amplifiers, and eyes everything with great suspicion.
Lyrically, Costello has seldom been wittier, sharper, or more malicious. The snarling, tables-turning "I Hope You´re Happy Now" joins Bob Dylan´s "Positively Fourth Street" as among the most lacerating kiss-off tunes ever penned. Similarly sarcastic, "Next Time Round" lends a pop rave-up air to the album´s otherwise dark assault. The bloodletting "Crimes of Paris" and "Poor Napoleon" (featuring Pogues singer Cait O´Riordan playing the role of "the voice of pity") confront the consequences of traumatic relationships and lustful choices with a savvy intellect. Given the mood and mindset of everyone and everything involved, it´s no surprise that Costello and the Attractions wouldn´t again work together until eight years later. Saying that Blood and Chocolate was worth the sacrifice is an understatement.