Elvis Costello - My Aim Is True
Elvis Costello - My Aim Is True
Album Comparisons: My Aim Is True
Elvis Costello's 1977 debut release is a certifiable classic that paved the way for all the mainstream and experimental projects that succeeded it. Costello has proven himself to be a very eclectic artist, drawing inspiration from and composing in a diverse number of genres ranging from rock, country, and soul to jazz and classical. My Aim Is True has been subjected to a number of re-releases on various labels and formats over the years, with the 1990 Columbia CD version generally considered to be of the poorest sound quality among the compact disc releases and the Rykodisc, Demon, Rhino, and other versions generally seen as superior. This is my favorite Elvis Costello album, so which of the compact disc releases is the definitive version? Note: This is a comparison of the original album tracks only, not any of the bonus tracks.

Welcome to the Working Week

Rykodisc version (1993)

Welcome to the Working Week

Rhino version (2001)

Welcome to the Working Week

Miracle Man

Rykodisc version (1993)

Miracle Man

Rhino version (2001)

Miracle Man

No Dancing

Rykodisc version (1993)

No Dancing

Rhino version (2001)

No Dancing

Blame It On Cain

Rykodisc version (1993)

Blame It on Cain

Rhino version (2001)

Blame It on Cain

Alison

Rykodisc version (1993)

Alison

Rhino version (2001)

Alison

Sneaky Feelings

Rykodisc version (1993)

Sneaky Feelings

Rhino version (2001)

Sneaky Feelings

(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes

Rykodisc version (1993)

(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes

Rhino version (2001)

(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes

Less Than Zero

Rykodisc version (1993)

Less Than Zero

Rhino version (2001)

Less Than Zero

Mystery Dance

Rykodisc version (1993)

Mystery Dance

Rhino version (2001)

Mystery Dance

Pay It Back

Rykodisc version (1993)

Pay It Back

Rhino version (2001)

Pay It Back

I'm Not Angry

Rykodisc version (1993)

I'm Not Angry

Rhino version (2001)

I'm Not Angry

Waiting For the End of the World

Rykodisc version (1993)

Waiting For the End of the World

Rhino version (2001)

Waiting For the End of the World

Watching the Detectives

Rykodisc version (1993)

Watching the Detectives

Rhino version (2001)

Watching the Detectives
And the winner is: 2001 Rhino edition. Rhino's CD releases have been getting louder over the years - generally not even in the same universe of loudness as the current industry average, but still creeping ever so slightly upward in volume year after year. That said, the difference in level between the Rhino and Rykodisc versions of this album is only about 1-2 dB depending on the song, based on my own analyses. The Rykodisc fully utilizes the compact disc's available dynamic range, with peaks hitting right at 0 dB, but without any evident dynamic range compression. Some of these peaks do appear to be slightly compressed on the Rhino disc with its slightly higher volume, but the differences are small enough that one generally has to zoom in and compare the waveforms visually to really notice them. The transfer on the Rykodisc release sounded slower to my ears, and I confirmed this to be the case by synchronizing the two versions of "Red Shoes" in an audio editor and measuring a drift of about eight hundredths of a second between the two over the length of the song. If you don't have an ear for pitch, you may not notice the difference in speed, but that and the overall muddier sound of the Rykodisc CD make the Rhino version the winner as far as I'm concerned. The Rhino release is a great value, with the second disc containing all the same bonus tracks as the Rykodisc release plus an additional four, top notch sound quality, and superior liner notes with photographs and song lyrics. The Rykodisc also has song lyrics but skimpier liner notes, and the booklet folds out into a "mini" poster of the cover art.