Elvis Costello says that CD is a medium that has seen its day

“It’s Armed Forces day now, it’s victory over CD”

Elvis Costello will issue a vinyl-only super deluxe edition box set of his 1979 album Armed Forces in next month and has defended the lack of a CD version, saying that the compact disc “really is demonstrably inferior to vinyl, as a sonic storage system”.

The box set – which is only available via Costello’s store and Universal Music channels – contains nine pieces of vinyl: three 12-inch albums, including a remastered Armed Forces, three 10-inch records, including highlights from the notorious Riot at The Regent concert at Dominion Theatre on 24 December 1978 and three seven-inch singles.

Costello says this release is “as much, if not more, than you’ll ever want to know about Armed Forces” and the box really highlights Barney Bubbles’ artwork and features seven custom notebooks containing updated liner notes from Costello and his handwritten lyrics from the era.

In an interview for Australia’s ABC Radio National, Costello, unprompted, addressed the issue of not putting out a CD version of this celebration of Armed Forces:

“I think that’s because, it seems to me, it’s been decided – for better or for worse – that that is a medium that’s seen its day and I can’t say I shed any tears about that. It was always an inferior compromise that involved not paying the artist properly, and really is demonstrably inferior to vinyl, as a sonic storage system, so it’s Armed Forces day now, it’s victory over CD. I a lot of people got rid of their record player – I told them not to do that. I think most people like the instantaneous access [offered by CD] but I know people like both, as well; they like the object to hold, the paraphernalia of records. Well, you don’t truthfully get that with a CD. All the artwork is cramped down into a horrible little booklet which gets ripped the second time you take it out of the plastic sleeve. This way, you can have either. You can have the instantaneous, portable version, that you carry with you [i.e. streaming/downloads] or you can have something beautiful… on vinyl, in cardboard.”

It’s worth noting that Costello is still issuing his latest album – the forthcoming Hey Clockface – on CD so fans are arguably being sent mixed messages and let’s not forget that while vinyl is undoubtedly in the ascendancy, and the popularity of the CD format is waining, in the UK last year 23.5m CDs were sold compared to 4.3m vinyl records (read this ‘format wars‘ article for more on that).

Of course, it’s unlikely that a CD box set of Armed Forces could retail for the £200+ being asked for the vinyl package, so there is that.

What are you thoughts on what Costello has to say? Leave a comment. The Armed Forces box set is released on 6 November 2020 and can be pre-order via The Sound of Vinyl, in coloured and black vinyl editions. It’s also available via the uDiscoverMusic store.

Armed Forces 12-inch vinyl LP

Side 1
1 Accidents Will Happen
2 Senior Service
3 Oliver’s Army
4 Big Boys
5 Green Shirt
6 Party Girl

Side 2
1 Goon Squad
2 Busy Bodies
3 Sunday’s Best
4 Moods For Moderns
5 Chemistry Class
6 Two Little Hitlers
7 (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding?

Christmas In The DominionLive 24th December ’78 10-inch vinyl

Side 1
1 (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes
2 No Dancing

Side 2
1 I Stand Accused
2 (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding?

Europe ‘79 – Live At Pinkpop 12-inch vinyl LP

Side 1
1 Goon Squad
2 B-Movie
3 Green Shirt
4 (I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea
5 Opportunity
6 So Young
7 High Fidelity

Side 2
1 Lipstick Vogue
2 Watching The Detectives
3 Big Boys
4 Pump It Up
5 You Belong To Me
6 (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding?

Live at Hollywood High & Elsewhere 1978 12-inch vinyl LP

Side 1
1 Accidents Will Happen
2 Mystery Dance
3 Goon Squad
4 Party Girl
5 Stranger In The House

Side 2
1 Alison
2 Lipstick Vogue
3 Watching The Detectives
4 You Belong To Me
5 Chemistry Class (Live at The Warner Theatre, Washington D.C.)

Live In Sydney ’78 10-inch vinyl

Side 1
1 Oliver’s Army
2 Waiting For The End Of The World
3 Big Boys

Side 2
1 This Year’s Girl
2 You Belong To Me
3 Pump It Up

Sketches for Emotional Fascism 10-inch vinyl

Side 1
1 Clean Money
2 Talking In The Dark
3 Wednesday Week
4 Tiny Steps

Side 2
1 Crawling To The U.S.A.
2 Big Boys (Alternate Version)
3 Green Shirt (Demo Version)
4 My Funny Valentine Riot At The Regent –

“Accidents Will Happen” seven-inch

Side 1
1 Accidents Will Happen

Side 2
1 Busy Bodies (Alternate) Nick Lowe & His Sound

“American Squirm” seven-inch

Side 1
1 American Squirm

Side 2
2 (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding?

“Oliver’s Army” seven-inch

Side 1
1 Oliver’s Army

Side 2
2 Big Boys (Demo)


368 responses to Elvis Costello says that CD is a medium that has seen its day

  1. Adam says:

    I love EC and have followed his career for a long time. Ironically, my library is sadly lacking in EC content. I was hoping to wait for a “Deluxe Edition” run of releases to fill that gap. Sadly, I do not think I can afford the $200 price tag for Vinyl, especially when I plan to get all of the albums he decides to release under the “Deluxe” (because I am a hopeless completionist!) Nor do I want to spend the time ripping these to digital for portability, which would no-doubt compromise their integrity as my gear is not “clean room” quality.

    Still, I can relate to his comments about the artwork. I miss LP-sized artwork and am not a fan of the miniaturized versions of original, LP-sized artwork and liner notes that is usually included with CD releases. However, as mentioned by several above, would it be so difficult to include LP-sized artwork in a “Box Set” that comprises CD media? I don’t think so. It would probably cost less to manufacture a CD+box set than an LP+box set since CDs are far more common to produce than LPs these days.

    All that being said, my preference these days is for high-resolution Blu-ray box sets. Include 96k/24bit high-resolution or better transfers of the original and/or remasters with your set. I am not so sure about Vinyl having a superior sonic quality to high-res digital audio or even CDs for that matter but to each his own as far as taste goes. Speaking strictly to the archival quality, I would prefer high-res digital to Vinyl, barring an apocalyptic demise of humanity (in which case, analog sources would probably be a safer investment.) But, since I am not trying to preserve the vestiges of human culture for future generations against total catastrophe, I am not concerned about this. I just want lasting, high-quality, high-fidelity tracks to add to my library. It seems the most cost-efficient, obtainable-by-many way to provide them is via CD/Blu-ray. Vinyl/Tape for the underground bunkers; CD/Blu-ray for the masses is my opinion. :-)

    Still, I love and respect this man’s art and his opinions. I am looking forward to filling that hole in my collection!

  2. EW99 says:

    On streaming sevices, “Busy Bodies (Alternate)” on the b-side of the “Accidents Will Happen” seven-inch is the demo version of “Big Boys” (as on the “Oliver’s Army” b-side). Is this the case in the physical edition?

  3. Pingback:Saturday Deluxe / 14 November 2020 | superdeluxeedition

  4. Neil Jones says:

    Jesus! It’s only a box set. So EC wants to put it out on vinyl and HE thinks CD’s are crap so what? It’s his opinion and everybody else has their opinion. He’s not telling everybody to stop buying CD’s is he? And for how much money he could make if he put it out on CD…that’s his business. Good old Elvis, still getting up peoples noses :)

  5. Steve says:

    I always find EC engaging and his recordings and concerts have given me a lot of pleasure over the years. He and/or his label have made a decisive move to target the deluxe vinyl buyer with this release. Fair enough. I imagine if you get a good pressing; all flat, clean and free from dust, scratches, static etc.. it will be a thing of beauty and sound great. £200-£250 is a lot to pay for a format that is inconsistent. I agree that at its best, vinyl is superior to CD but good CD mastering can be great too and by and large, more consistent. (JLs Gimme Some Truth is a lovely, great sounding CD package). It would have been possible to produce an Armed Forces CD deluxe edition with all the tracks on 3 CDs with a large glossy book in a 10-12 inch box and retail it for £50-£60. Clearly this would not have been as profitable but it would have probably shifted many thousands of copies compared to the vinyl. I suspect therefore, this is a marketing decision by the label, rather than ECs philosophy of preferred format. My membership of a well known streaming service will give me access to the music with an acceptable, if not stunning, crackle and pop free sound. In the meantime, this ageing lover of music on both formats will enjoy recent and forthcoming releases by JL, Elton, Tangerine Dream and Marillion in excellent CD deluxe editions, with booklets that I can read (if I can find my glasses), all for the cost of this Armed Forces Edition.

  6. Sean says:

    EC can do what ever he wants, but I only purchase CDs. If you want my money, it has to be on CD. I guess he doesn’t want my money. That’s okay – there are other things I can spend it on.

  7. Chris S. says:

    The Super Deluxe Box Colour Vinyl is currently discounted to USD181.99 on the Sound of Vinyl US Store, significantly less than the $323.99 price on the uDiscover Music US Store. Cheaper shipping also.

    • Dave Bain says:

      ‘Discounted to $181.99’. Just a few years back I bought ‘The complete Miles Davis on Columbia’ box set containing 71 CDs and a DVD for less than that. In fact if you add the price that I paid for the Bob Dylan Columbia box set (40 plus albums on CD) the total price is still way less than the undiscounted price of this pretty small vinyl collection. I have always classed myself as a real diehard Costello fan but I really can’t justify shelling out that kind of money for what is essentially a remastered album that I already own plus 2 live albums (some tracks of which I already have) plus 3 ten inch EPs and 3 seven inch singles. Value for money, I don’t think so.


    Just to add to the general consensus.
    Costello once had the idea of deleting his catalogue at the end of the last century.
    I wish I could reference this , but it may have been from the original remaster’s liner notes.
    Rudy Van Gelder, the recording engineer of many jazz records such as A Love Supreme thought that vinyl was never any good. Recording engineers don’t mix down from the multi track too vinyl. Well perhaps once upon a time for a young Elvis Presley for his Mum.
    The last Costello compilation ‘Unfaithful Music’ sounded amazing. A brilliant example of how good a CD can be. The current trend for insisting on including vinyl, such as Lou Reed’s New York is almost bullying and exploitative. Shameful.

    • Dave Bain says:

      I also remember reading that Jonathan, I believe it was in the liner notes to one of the 2 disc Rhino/Edsel editions that he released a few years back. I know Costello to be an extremely intelligent man. This makes comments such as ‘deleting my entire catalogue’ and ‘vinyl is demonstrably inferior to CD’ somewhat bizarre. However we often say things just to get a reaction, or maybe these comments are tongue in cheek and not meant to be taken too seriously. It’s my belief that Costello and/or Universal music are testing the water with this vastly over-priced vinyl only release. I honestly envisage the release of this set on CD and at a reasonable price in the not too distant future. Shifting a shed load on reasonably priced CDs is likely to generate a lot more income than shifting a handful of the same on vinyl at prohibitive price. This box set at £200-250 will only be purchased by the super rich super fan or by the certifiably insane. The rest of us will await the CD package. If it comes, great. If not, I for one won’t lose any sleep over it.

    • jjazznola says:


  9. ken D says:

    If one purchases the “super deluxe box set” does that include streaming/downloadable version of the music?

    When Led Zep did their super deluxe boxes it was LPs, CDS, and downloads…

    I can’t believe I have to ask…but i dont see it noted ANYWHERE in any of the descriptions…

    If he wants vinyl people only…well, this is an awfully high price to be just one segment of the market

  10. Wayne Dickson says:

    That was ill-advised, especially from someone who so actively took advantage of the CD format for so many years. His comments and decision to deny his fans a CD version of this deluxe edition is undeniably a slap in the face to many of the people who have supported his music over the past 30-odd years.

    • Matthew says:

      I agree, Wayne. An ill-advised slap in the face. Even if EC is right about CDs (and I think he’s totally wrong, as wrong as the people who threw away record players despite his warnings), how about letting the fans who supported his career for four decades make their own choice?

  11. Ryk says:

    I like vinyl SDEs but the prices have increased so they are now beyond my means; I haven’t bought one in well over a year (the last was Blancmange’s Blanc Tapes on vinyl). I also buy mixed media SDEs and CD only SDEs, and have purchased a number of those in the past year or two, but the prices of some of those are becoming ludicrous (Prince SotT). I think I will be sticking with CD sets that are less than NZ$100 (or roughly £50) from now on, like the HoJo and Marillion releases.

  12. StevieT says:

    Seeing the news about Dolly Parton 8 track release, reminded me that 30 odd years ago, Elvis personally compiled the Girls Girls Girls collection in four formats, including Dat, with different track listings for each format. Also I’m sure he knows what wow and flutter are, as he wrote a song called Flutter and Wow. He has even used the word shellac in several songs, so goodness knows what is coming next.

  13. eric says:

    I have decided not to but EC’s Armed Forces box, not because it’s vinyl only, but because the price tag is too high for the few new songs/versions on this release. If EC chooses not to release on cd, that is his choice, i use both vinyl and cds daily.
    I won’t buy the new U2 All That You Can’t … Box set either, only 4 new mixes.
    It’s clear that vinyl is a cash cow at the moment, but with these prices it will be over soon, i guess.
    CD format is not ideal, vinyl is not ideal, Compact Cassette isn’t ideal, 8 track neither, who cares if there’s nothing interesting released?
    I think EC is wrong concerning the staying sound quality of vinyl, but he can do with his music what he wants.
    That said, i hope my EC Japanese Hey Clockface cd (with bonus track) will arrive soon from Japan (release next friday)!

  14. Chris says:

    I like Elvis Costello, but don’t agree with him about CDs being inferior. On the few occasions (not recently) I’ve heard a specialist audiofile vinyl record on a high-quality system, the sound has indeed been very impressive. However, I spent the 1970s and early 1980s collecting hundreds of LPs, and when they were produced en masse at their height, the average quality was not very good. The first thing I had to do when I got the LP home was to listen to it on headphones listening out for all the crackles and pops and weighing up whether it was bad enough to return to the store. Some LPs were also warped, so the tone arm had to negotiate a sort of switchback, which combined with wow and flutter (remember that folks?) didn’t exactly help the sound quality. When I bought my first CD player, I was very slightly disappointed with the cold, clinical sound, compared with a warmer sound I was used to from vinyl, but at least you could just concentrate on the music and forget about all the imperfections of the sound carrier. The sound quality of CDs has generally improved over the years (although some CDs are overly compressed), and the benefits over vinyl – in addition to sound quality – mean, for me at least, there is no comparison. Costello may complain that CDs are too small, but that was always the point, surely. If you’ve got 1,000s of CDs, you can store them along the walls of a single room. Try doing that with vinyl! You can also rip the tracks to listen on another device, although perhaps that’s what he doesn’t like – he thinks you should buy his albums 3, 4, even 5 times. I think it’s great that vinyl is still being produced for those who want it, but for me the clean, precise sound of CDs, compared with the ability to rip the tracks and their – well, compact – size, means that CDs are far superior overall to vinyl.

    • Fathomie says:

      CD is sonically superior to vinyl – in paper. In reality, it is not. Who says so? Those who drew up the specifications for CD and were thwarted in their ambitions for producing them at higher resolutions. As many modern engineers have said, 16/44 produces flat, dull, shut in sounding recordings – and always has. Since the early days of CD the tech was available for higher bit recording, but wasn’t used in the rush to get it to the market. The argument that CD has ‘massively improved over time’ is also incorrect. Noise shaping, filtering and conversion has improved, but the medium has remained 16/44 and thus stuck in a late 70’s timewarp. A 16/44 recording is a 16/44 recording, now matter how much you tinker with it. ‘Some CD’s are over compressed’? Was that a serious comment? I stopped buying CD’s years ago because virtually every one I bought WAS compressed. Unless you buy Jazz and Classical exclusively, virtually everything in the mainstream is compressed. CD is finished because the younger generations, due to economic and ergonomic reasons prefer streaming. As do many of the ’40 something’ generation. On the other hand, vinyl offers uncompressed sound, at very high quality, and using modern phono stages, TT’s and Carts offers sound with very little to no interference. Hence the vinyl revival. Unfortunately you’ve fallen into a common trap in the CD over everything else argument – discussing the replay of one medium in the 1970’s, over them both today. I too hated (and still do) noisy vinyl replay. I can’t stand warped records. But of a collection that has run into the thousands over the years, I’m not going to burst into tears at a handful (literally) of warped/damaged albums I’ve bought.

      CD is a sad case of greed triumphing over caution. Why? Because as above engineers said from day one it should be higher bit and a higher frequency. Early ADC’s were, to quote one engineer, ‘dire’. Early CD players were marketed before the tech was ready so they had inadequate filtering and thus that hideous bright sound. Early CD’s were often ripped from inferior sources to cash in, including damaged tapes, metal parts, even from vinyl rips. Many were recorded on ‘banks’ which led the the hilarious switched channel issue of the led zep CD’s. Yet CD nuts argue that early pressings are the best! Which is precisely why I seriously doubt their objectivity.

      There is no future in physical media. CD is doomed because, as Costello admits, the margins for artists have always been lower than vinyl. Vinyl is doomed, as are hires discs, because younger people simply don’t want them, and the cost of making them and running pressing plants means they are simply not making enough profit compared to streaming.

      There is though, a certain irony in people who ditched vinyl ‘because they sounded bad in the 70’s and 80’s’, and many of whom sneered at those who still played vinyl, now moaning that CD is being phased out.

      On a final note, had the engineers had their way, had CD been produced at 18/48 or 20/48 as they suggested, while it would have taken two more years (at least) to get them to market, the medium would smashed all its rivals (as DVD did) overnight, and established it well into the mid noughties. As it is…

      • Jason says:

        That’s weird. Vinyl is doomed because young people don’t want them? Where is that research coming from? I’ve been selling more records to high school and younger lately than the above-60 crowd…

  15. Tim K says:

    I would have bought this reissue had it been done on CD as well. Strange that Elvis should decide to take a stand with “Armed Forces”. But mixed messages seems correct – in the extract from the interview, he seems to say you can get releases either via streaming or vinyl. Does this mean that there will be a download version of the box set ? I’d settle for that if there is one. As for the packaging, he could also put that on a pdf file with the download versions. I also wonder whether he might relent and issue this box set later on CD, and, that way, he can maximise the vinyl sales now. Elvis’ views about CD do remind me of the opening lines of “King Of America” though.

  16. J Hancock says:

    I was comparing this box with the forthcoming Motorhead Ace of Spades box, which is still available for £120 from a number of outlets. This gets you a half speed remaster of the original album, 2 double albums of what appear to be complete live shows, a double album of alternative versions , a 10″ of instrumentals, a DVD with tv performances and a 5.1 mix, 40 page book, tour programme, Commando comic and, err, set of dice to use playing a game on the box lid.

    Comparing this content with the Costello box, Elvis appears to be valuing the notebooks at about £100. As others have said, it’s up to him what he puts out and what he charges for it. And it’s up to people whatever or not they buy it. Still, it’s an illuminating comparison.

  17. Nass Khan says:

    Funny Elvis Costello slating CD considering his back catolog has been reissued quite a few times.

    My Aim is True sounds great on cd & Brutal Youth is awesome.

    My Radar lp copy of Armed Forces sounds fine.

  18. Robert says:

    Fantastic news for those that want the vinyl in a box set but tough on those that collect CD’s and that have followed him through all of his career. I realise that vinyl is very cool and sounds different to cd with its warmer sound which some prefer but personally I would like all of the frequency range on the CD not the cut off top end and bottom end which is removed for vinyl.
    Some of us have been with the CD since its launch and enjoyed its ease of use and with advances in technology the latest CD players are capable of fine sounds. As to the CD having its day if my children are any guide they are not interested in any physical format at all certainly not vinyl at inflated prices as they only stream music on their phones.

    • Chris Squires says:

      That’s the nub of it Robert. My two 23 / 24 year old daughters love music, Rap and anything remotely “grimy” for one and musicals / Pop for the other and they have never so much as spent a penny on any of it. They do not aspire to own music in any shape or form (at). Having got to slightly know their circle of friends and current co-habitees over the last decade none of the 20 or so of them do either. Plus, and here is the real kick in the teeth, none of our adult friends or family give (what was it someone said the other day?) a “Fat Rat’s Clacker!” about physical music either. It doesn’t matter how many people we might have round for whatever reason, the most, and I do mean the absolute most, I have had is “Oh, the Human League, I like them.” But no-one wants to investigate or actually listen to anything. Feedback from the ‘Shires is that the only box sets Growed ups are bothered about are on Netflix / BritBox and not at the local record shop.

      So the physical music industry is absolutely and relentlessly under attack. We are The Great Wall holding back the irrepressible tide.

  19. Tim Barton says:

    I can’t see myself buying this box, unless I win a lottery or something. CDs still have one thin over vinyl, and that is how durable they are. I got back into vinyl recently, and love a good pressing, but for my usual buying, CDs do the trick. I will just enjoy some vinyl here and there (half-speed mastering and LPs split across two 45 rpm discs are the best things to happen in the vinyl revival, I do admit), but I still choose CD over vinyl most of the time.

    To each his own.

  20. Simon Long says:

    ‘… saying that the compact disc “really is demonstrably inferior to vinyl, as a sonic storage system”.’

    Some strange new usage of the word “demonstrably” there. I think he meant to say “not” rather than “demonstrably” – as in every single measurable (and audible) respect, CD is a far more accurate representation of the sound intended by the studio engineer than vinyl.

    People may prefer the sound of vinyl to that of CD, but vinyl is unquestionably the less faithful to the original sound of the two.

  21. ArrGee says:

    It’s interesting that about 12 years ago vinyl was “dead” and I was buying LPs because they were cheaper than CDs, FOPP had stacks of vinyl for £3.
    Now vinyl is at silly prices, I am buying CDs, new and old. In fact , so many pristine CDs have been dumped at our local charity stores they sell them 10 for £1.
    I could get 2,000 CDs for the cost of the Armed Forces reissue. More if I include postage. Still shouldn’t grumble I picked up a near mint copy of Armed Forces from our local charity shop for £2 a few years ago…

  22. Barry Gutman says:

    I love and respect EC but he’s dead wrong about CD being inferior to vinyl. When remastered properly, they ALWAYS sound better to my ears, and the packaging for box sets does not have to be small. In fact, without CDs there would BE no box sets, unreleased archival tracks, and liner notes would never have made a comeback! Plus, vinyl is ridiculously overpriced. With CDs you get better sound, packaging and portability all wrapped up in one. Like Neil Young, Elvis must accept that it is not his place to tell me what format I must listen to his music on!

  23. SteveT says:

    Paul any chance you can get these messages to EC – the response is overwhelming and I think it might sway him to rethink

    • Revroth says:

      Hi, Mark. You might want to take a look at my previous comment, where I shared a link to the “contact us” page on Elvis’ management’s website and suggested other motivated fans join me in sending respectful, concise requests for a CD set. If it’s too hard to find my original post, just Google “Elvis Costello management” and their website will be the first thing that pops up. They make it very easy to send them a note.

  24. Mad Earwig says:

    These comments show that we all want different things from our music carriers, surely live and let live?
    I love CD for its sound and convenience and less space they take up when compared to records.
    I have worked in the audio industry for years and I admit that Stevie Ray Vaughan albums sound better on record than my remastered CD’s but only on a good turntable/cartridge system, but I dont want it anymore. I have moved on from a 12″ disc that I had in the 1980’s.

    I was happy to move away from vinyl as I got fed up with 20 minute playing sides, dedication to cleanliness ( carbon fibre brushes, anti static sleeves etc) and a good CD sounds good to my ears on my set up.
    Listen to any recent Tom Petty release/reissue/box set to hear how good CD can sound.

    I like Flac over mp3 but can only play mp3 in my car, dont like the Spotify interface so dont use it and so on…
    My point is, each to your own, buy what you like and do not buy what you dont like!

    I do not give a toss what Elvis Costello is doing but as the artist, it is up to him what he does.

    • David says:

      I agree with you Mad Earwig,I had thousands of vinyl singles,12″and albums,I haven’t got the room for them now, cd’s are more practical, it’s a shame that certain bands don’t release music on cd anyone, there’s always room for both, everyone should have the choice.

  25. c_q says:

    Personally, I’d be fine with vinyl albums that are always gatefolds with a CD included in the other side, plus a download code, liner notes, maybe some stickers, etc. Then people are buying the package and can play vinyl on occasion and CD in the car, or whatever. It shouldn’t have to be an either-or type situation.

    • Seikotsi says:

      Good point also about the download code. I wonder why CDs do not have download codes when most PCs do not have CD drives anymore.

      • David Bly says:


        Regarding the lack of CD/DVD/Blu-ray drives in PCs, this is basically the computer industry being in cahoots with the record/film companies. Once streaming became popular, the content providers realised they don’t have to physically make anything anymore if they don’t want to, but they can actually charge people money for things that don’t exist, AND that they don’t own.
        You can listen to streaming music all you want, but at the end of the day, it ISN’T YOURS!
        And forgive me if I am part wrong on this next part, but I believe that legally (depending on the country) you don;t own the downloads on your computers or stupidphones either.

        Also, I would say that one reason they don’t include download codes with CDs is they assume if you bought a CD you have a way to play it. But I can think of at least two US indie labels that include download codes not only with their LPs, but also with their CDs.
        But then the (now only) 3 majors for the most part don’t have download codes even with their LPs at all.

        A semi-solution to some of this are artists and labels (all indie) that sell stuff through Bandcamp. There, you can order LPs, CDs, sometimes cassettes, and purchase downloads. If you order the physical media, you then have access to all sorts of downloads*, and if you sign up with Bandcamp, you can have a ‘collection’ of all your purchases where you can always go and re-download things again.

        Meanwhile, EC is wrong about CDs, but I’ll get to that elsewhere.

        *Bandcamp downloads are available in MP3 V0, MP3 320, FLAC, AAC, Ogg Vorbis,
        ALAC, WAV, and AIFF !

        • Big Rin says:

          Aaagh….another conspiracy theorist. The record and film companies are not in ‘cahoots’ with the record industry. Streaming is popular because a it is simple and cheap for most people to use – people who don’t care if they own the music or not but want access to everything cheaply (the irony being they then listen to the same things all of the time).

          An ever diminishing amount of people consume music on a physical basis but there is still a lot of product being released and bought. As I’ve said before, some people at the majors would like scrap physical releases but they know they can’t – it is still profitable and it’s what we hardcore fans want.

    • Matthew says:

      Can agree with that, cd or digital file essential for the car as my commute is an hour each way.

  26. O(+> Peter B says:

    New vinyl is so expensive. I have much more respect for CDs after seeing the video on this showing what goes into making them:

  27. sound.mind says:

    “It was always an inferior compromise that involved not paying the artist properly”
    He should be addressing the issue of getting a just return on his recordings from the record company .. the CD format .. had nothing to do with it
    “Former FTC chairman Robert Pitofsky said at the time that consumers had been overcharged by $480 million since 1997 and that CD prices would soon drop by as much as $5 a CD as a result.”

    States settle CD price-fixing case

  28. Darryl says:

    CD says that Elvis Costello is a medium that has seen its day

  29. Robert says:

    Having recently read Elvis’ autobiography I must have missed the chapter where he warns his fans in 1982 about the evils of buying a CD player and abandoning the church of vinyl.

  30. auteur55 says:

    Sounds to me like Mr. Costello is living in a bubble. Not everyone can afford vinyl or an expensive system that is necessary to really enjoy how superior they are its as simple as that. $300 vinyl reissues that usually contains a fraction of the artists work is not ideal for all collectors. CD’s really fill in this gap by providing an affordable and efficient way to still collect physical media. There are also a ton of albums not on streaming sites and i’ve been able to find the CD on Amazon for a few bucks. There are only two forms of physical media in existence (no cassettes don’t count yet) and we keep seeing artists, labels and music sites trying to kill off the more affordable one. It’s ridiculous and i’m frankly a little tired of it. So Mr. Costello I won’t be buying your expensive vinyl package. I also don’t believe vinyl sound is superior in all cases they also arrive damaged much more often then CD’s do. Stop hurting lower income people that want to own music.

    • Steve Hurley says:

      Some really great points made there auteur55 that i completely agree with. I bought a lot of vinyl all thro’ the 80s & into the 90s and in part made the leap to mainly CDs from about ’89 onwards because record companies started to gradually phase out releasing certain titles on vinyl. I worked in record shops during this time period & there also at times seemed to be quite a problem with faulty batches of vinyl with customers often returning records. I’ve grown to love both CDs & vinyl and in truth if i had loads of disposable ££’s and storage space i would be all over the vinyl revival. But it’s just not affordable for me and i’m quite content to collect the more accessible format CD. Strange also to think that CD used to often offer bonus tracks not always included on the vinyl record and yet now frustratingly many vinyl titles are (RSD or 7” and 12” singles) released without a CD equivalent.

  31. Dean says:

    Let me get this straight. Costello’s new album is about to be released: ON CD.

    But CD isn’t good enough for a reissue.

    Got it. Utter and complete nonsense, but got it.

    • John Mason says:

      Current fashion ability of vinyl fetches more $, plain and simple…oh and, how many times has his catalog been reissued on CD!?!?!

  32. Quante says:

    I was at an industry exhibition once many years ago and had a conversation with a customer. After we finished talking I was asked by a colleague who he was. ‘He’s a fucking wanker’ was my reply. The customer then appeared from the other side of the panel from where I had made my declaration. Funnily enough I didn’t sell much to that company and I learnt not to shit on my own doorstep.

    Elvis Costello inadvertently seems to have had a similar impact on some of his loyal customers who will have bought plenty of his cds over the years.

  33. Paul Foster says:

    It’s well worth noting that the pre-order price for 16/44.1 kHz files for the Armed Forces SDE is currently under $40.

    There are many pertinent issues in the CD’s downfall that aren’t being emphasised here. The cheapening of the protective jewel box, the inability of American labels to adapt the rice paper-style inner sleeves common to Japanese issues (when resorting to cardboard sleeves), digipaks that at once hold the disc with a death grip yet let allow the CD to spin freely during shipment, causing circular scratches—all frustrations that have led many consumers to question whether or not it’s worth it to bother with CDs any longer. Worse still is the way designers have been devalued in the process, especially outside the majors. Bypassing the design phase has led to some embarrassingly poor-looking reissues with no sense of layout or style or authenticity. These products look like pirated CDs or someone’s 1990s CD tree, not something of value. Such cheapening defeats the entire argument of “music to hold in your hands.” A well-crafted $260 bespoke box set may not be ideal or suitable to one’s budget, but Costello is *far* from the only artist to be featured on SDE to have released vinyl-only or vinyl-heavy sets at a similar price point.

    • Paul Alfred says:

      @Paul Foster – I completely agree with you. I collect both vinyl and CDs and I think each has its pros and cons, but it’s refreshing to read some actual valid arguments in a post without the hateful moaning some SDE readers are posting here… Just because they feel offended in their personal belief that CDs are far superior. I thought this website was read by people who love music in whatever physical format it comes and who would show a bit more restraint when an artist expresses his/her view on a particular subject, that doesn’t necessary match theirs.
      This is not the comment section of the Daily Mail on Brexit! I don’t think EC intended to insult anyone when he says that, in his opinion and for this Armed Forces re-issue, vinyl is a better option.
      Jeez guys, relax a bit, breathe, turn the stereo on and enjoy the music that brings you here in the first place.

  34. Gerbrand says:

    I’d rather discuss “McCartney III” which will be released in December in 33 different audio, video, vinyl & download formats. Followed by a Deluxe version in January with 3 extra tracks. And a Superdeluxe Edition in July with an extra disc of home demos.

    Let the moaning begin.

    • Klaus says:


      You forgot to mention the 3 coffee table books that will come with the SDE, bringing it pricewise up to 333,33 £$€, while the content of the standard vinyl edition will be pressed onto 3 vinyl discs to guarantee even better sonic quality than vinyl naturally comes with. The only argument against it will be that they play at 45RPM (no offence to Matt Johnson intended).

  35. Big Rin says:

    Well, that certainly set the cat amongst the pigeons! An ill-judged comment from an artist who has been happy to package and repackage the same early/mid-period material on numerous occasions through Demon/Rhino and Universal on CD. It has raised a few interesting points here though.

    Firstly, the ‘I’m so insulted -I’m a lifelong fan who won’t be buying any more’ poster. Really? How about you ignore the release, express your indignation and move on. If the new material is good, then buy-it.

    Secondly, the multitude of conflicting format quality comments. It’s just preference – I happen to buy and play CD and vinyl and stream, depending upon the circumstances and mood. The ‘I have a 76 TB hard-drive in my rocket’ or ‘you can only listen to vinyl if you’ve got thousands of pounds of equipment’ comments from amateur sound-sleuths leave me cold. Nothing worse than equipment bores.

    Thirdly, the comments about the ‘man’ wanting to kill-off the physical format are pretty ill-informed. I work with one of the bigger players in the SDE market and yes, there are some people at the majors who’d like to see the back of CD and vinyl (and cassette!) – they can then drop some expensive resource and just sit back and count the streaming revenue, which is huge if you own a big catalogue. However, there is a lot of resource being thrown at the SDE market – look at the amount of releases – and it’s not a cheap or quick process. These things can easily take 6-12 months and often a lot longer securing the audio parts, clearances, photos, notes, interviews, etc, let alone producing a ton of expensive packaging materials. If you get it wrong, all profit can disappear on excess stock (stand up the Guns N Roses £1,000 box) or dealing with faulty discs or wrong audio being used (stand up Demon with Dead Or Alive, Suede and Heaven 17). People at these companies love what they do and are generally consumers and buyers – and probably on this site.

    Lastly, many artists do have an input into the retail pricing – Neil Hannon most certainly had a hand in everything on the Divine Comedy box that sets the gold-standard in terms of material, packaging and price. Costello certainly does – he owns his own catalogue and nothing happens without his say-so. In this case I think he’s made a misjudgement. Yes, they will be guided by the label or licensee but anyone with any wit will be engaging with, or at least noting the response from its fan-base.

  36. mike says:

    I might have missed a similar comment due to the thread length but EC will come from the vinyl generation and is entitled to feel that way about CD / digital. As all of us, he has his opinion coloured by his generation experience of formats. It does seem daft that he may be missing out on sales, but that may be more likely the record company decision – which is concerning for CD purchasers certainly.

  37. fish says:

    I’ve said enough on twitter about it to you Paul (@bigeyedfisher), so here I’ll just say I’m glad I’m not an Elvis Costello fan. I’ll stick with my apparently outdated way of listening to music, the great CD! And by the way Elvis, a little booklet is better than no booklet at all. that big booklet you get with a vinyl rips/gets worn just the same as the small one. It’s even more fragile because it’s 12×12 or so, and usually thin.

  38. Andre says:

    Elvis is free to do whatever he chooses with his releases and everybody else is free to ignore them.
    I have one edition of “Armed Forces” and that is enough for me and I find the appeal of bonus material often overrated. I have an early CD reissue that includes a few bonus tracks, but most of the time I only listened to the original album tracks anyway.

    There’s one thing I noticed though: I have several of the CDs from the first reissue series and I think that most of them sound rather thin and hollow, while I also have an original vinyl version of “Blood And Chocolate” and that sounds a lot better (warmer, more crisp and defined) than its CD counterpart from the first reissue campaign.
    I think it always comes down to mixing and mastering and a lot of 1980s/early 90s CD releases were just mixed or mastered poorly.

    Personally I don’t care about live material from shows that I haven’t attended anyway, as most of the time the sound is shoddy and the singing and playing rarely surpasses the studio takes. I know that’s a jaded perspective, but after so many years of consuming products of the music industry I’m not getting easily excited anymore. And the presumed magical energy or atmosphere of specific live gigs often involves romanticized autosuggestion.

    His Discogs pages show that Elvis has always been very busy at repackaging and expanding his recordings. His first label had that strategy of release gimmicks (alternative cover here, bonus track there) and Elvis basically sticked to that formula. This new set is definitely overpriced but if he finds a small, exclusive audience willing to pay for it, I’m happy for him.

  39. Kauwgompie says:

    It’s a very inconsistent story he is telling here:

    1. Not only do my kids only stream music, they have no clue who Elvis Costello is. My point is, his fans are the older generation who still buy cd and vinyl. So from a commercial perspective, not releasing this on cd makes no sense. Costello has a grudge against the cd because he felt screwed when it was first released. Message for Costello: that’s the record company that screwed you, not the cd itself. Apparently Costello is independently rich so he can “get back at the cd” by ignoring it now but what he really is doing is screw his fans as statistically most of them don’t do vinyl.

    2. “CD is a medium that has seen its day”. Inconsistent because so is vinyl. If he is consistent then he would only release it as streaming. My kids only know streaming and shake their heads when crazy dad gets another box set in the mail. So if “has seen its day” was the norm, he shouldn’t release it on vinyl either.

    3. Let’s not act as if vinyl is taking over from the cd. Vinyl is a nice product, beautiful really, with that large cover but people buy it for nostalgic reasons, for the better look, because it is the latest kraze and sometimes as an artifact-only with no intention to play it. The sound however is mostly worse, it is much more expensive and super impractical because you have to get up every 3 songs or so to flip the record. That’s not the future.

    4. Inconsistent because he said in the Billboard interview that his catalog was in disarray. Well, congrats, it’s now in even worse disarray, reissuing something only on vinyl. Not only do people want the cd, many simply cannot afford a £200 box set. Mr Costello lives in an alternative universe.

  40. Chris says:

    I visited Discogs and looked at the history of Armed Forces releases.
    In the US alone, AF was released by Columbia/CBS (1979), Rykodisc (1993), Rhino/Warner Bros. (2002), and Hip-O/Universal (2007). If one of EC’s beefs is “not paying the artist properly” for CD releases, he’s had multiple instances over decades to correct this problem when hammering out new contracts. Seems that Elvis and his management teem are shit negotiators.

  41. Dave says:


  42. Padraig Collins says:

    Not a huge Elvis Costello fan, but hard to resist at this price.

  43. Chris Squires says:

    I made my main point further down the page but there is one other thing to bear in mind that doesn’t even touch on the vinyl vs. CD debate.
    It’s just not a very good set.
    It is very light on desirable additional content and the format chosen is (to use a deplorable Americanism) a hot mess (forgive me).
    3 x 12″, 3 x 10″ and 3 x 7″ seems such a strange way of doing things. The seven inch singles in particular. They don’t seem to be trying to achieve anything, other than bulking out the package. They don’t seem to be trying to replicate the original in any way and don’t seem to add anything to the party.
    The three 10″ records also seem to be neither fish nor flesh.
    I am not the foremost Elvis C. aficionado so I might be missing the point. But isn’t the point to get the point?
    Overall it seems to be more of a fashion statement that a serious proposal. An experiment in being able to say there are 9 discs in the set, 9 pieces of vinyl. Rather like the upcoming U2 release stretching meagre pickings as far as they will go with one track per side for 5 “LPs”.
    I bought Oliver’s Army back in 1979, from local chemist that stocked 7″ records. I am not sure who would want to buy this. It’s the equivalent of 5 x 12″ records for £200 or £250.
    That’s up in McCartney territory, but I think this is a worse deal.

    • What? Costello? Worry? says:

      A point I made near the bottom of the thread Chris, I was excited by this release and saw the content and meh, it’s live material spread thinly across 8 different platters, and not even complete live shows either. And to top it all it’s just a fancy bookend for 200 sobs that eats up space. I’ll stick with the collection I have, and stream or buy a download when it become available of this new set.

    • noyoucmon says:

      Chris, I agree entirely. Aside from the format bickering, it’s not that good of a set, for the reasons you’ve listed.

      I wonder how many EC fans already have all of those 7″ singles. One of the many reasons I was irked by this box is I didn’t want to shell out for those again; I am happy to have umpteen versions of an album, but I don’t need multiple copies of 7″ singles.

      But the most baffling part to me is all the 10″ records. What an irritant.

      And I can’t wait to see some pictures of the actual box, as opposed to the label’s mock-ups. I want to see what the heck these “seven notebooks” look like. If Costello believes CD booklets fall apart as soon as you touch them, I wonder what he thinks of “seven notebooks” versus the nice hardback books that so many artists put in their respectable boxes.

    • Ben Add says:

      The only unreleased recordings in this overpriced collection are some of the live tracks. The Hollywood High concert has already been released in 2 previous AF releases and on its own.
      I downloaded a lossless FM source of the Pinkpop concert years ago on a free and legal live music torrent site. There are at least 30 to 40 high quality (FM or soundboard) EC live recordings from 1978-79 available for free online.

      Lossless files are easier to deal with than CDs and are the same audio quality but they’re both much better than vinyl. Get a decent A2D converter.

  44. Paul Wren says:

    Vinyl will still be playable in 100 years time whereas CD’s won’t because they deteriorate/”rot” over time and become unplayable.

    • Stan Butler says:

      The condition of my CDs in 100 years time strangely isn’t my most pressing concern. I may not be around to play them.
      Certainly the CDs I first bought 30 years ago are still very playable and are all backed up as Flac files anyway.
      In contrast, the LPs I bought in the 80s, always had annoying pops and crackles, almost from the off.
      God only knows what they’re going to sound like in 2085!

    • Richard says:

      You still planning playing those records in a hundred years my friend, and I guarantee your kids won’t want them either, so kind of a redundant point methinks
      And yes records do wear considerably overtime too

    • Happy Man says:

      Good point. I’ll be 165 then.

    • Jarmo Keranen says:

      I bought my first cd’s in 1987 and they still play very well. I’m 61 now i think i’m dead before they deteriote/”rot” and that’s enough for me!

    • Christian Harald Fex says:

      Vinyl is – like glass – amorph, so it will develop deformations.
      And, yes, it will be playable, but there will be no listening pleasure at all.

    • Chris says:

      Funny this. One disc I’ve had since college (1989, its release) is “Spike” by…Elvis Costello. It hasn’t oxidized but will no longer play in any CD player I own. Other discs from that time are fine.

    • Roland K. says:

      Rubbish! I’m owning more than 8000 cds and this happened me just once. This by a factory failure.

      Vinyl however is mostly not playable after a decade without cracks and popds because of the fans who can’t handle vinyl and being always gentle with it.

    • Prince Fan says:

      The lifespan of vinyl is irrelevant really unless you except to live to be 150+. CD rot is an overstated issue. I ripped hundreds of 25 -30 year old CDs earlier this year and didn’t have a single problem and detected no signs of deterioration. You can’t wear out CD either!

    • philce3k says:

      If CDs do indeed rot over time (and I have only experienced this with a literal handful of VERY EARLY CDs out of the 1000s I have bought) then I guess I won’t be able to play them when I am 152 years old. Oh wait….. :-D

  45. Edward Fitzgerald says:

    Disappointed Elvis didn’t make a corresponding 78 RPM Records box set. Armed Forces is a good album, songs still get airplay on college stations but vinyl only no thanks.

  46. kid992 says:

    Ironically its often cheaper to buy A CD to get the download than paying for a download itself. I often wonder how much input modern artists have in the pricing of SDE’s. The price of this Armed Forces quite patently has not gone well and ultimately its not good for heritage acts to alienate their fan base in the way some of these comments suggest. EC is one of my favorite acts who is offering me one 40 year old album reissue for £200. The Divine Comedy is also one of my favourites who is offering the majority of his lifetimes work in music for £125.

  47. Leon McC says:

    I don’t like Costello but I agree with his sentiment. Vinyl is more expensive but way more satisfying as a product, in my opinion. I switched from vinyl to CD in 1995, bought thousands of CDs, then switched back to vinyl 2-3 years ago. I have traded in some nice CD items for vinyl since then and will continue to do so but will probably keep my nicest CD items. I haven’t bought a CD for about 3 years.

    I love the packaging, the heavyweight product, the ritual of playing a side, the fat sound.

    BTW – Paul, what a great site that covers both formats with real knowledge and passion. I’m so glad I stumbled across the site a year or so ago.

  48. Alvin says:

    To cd or not to cd, this remains a gorgeous box set aimed at collectors at a premium price (which will probably come down after a while anyway). The people this box set is aimed at, will certainly buy it without hesitation, simply because they collect everything EC related, regardless of the format. Those who don’t jump on it, simply aren’t *that* interested, so not buying it won’t result in any great loss.

    Sure, there’s a fair chance the casual fan could/would buy it, should it also be available on cd. Then again, SDE is not a blog directed at the mere casual fan (for most of the time). This leaves us with those collector’s who would have preferred to own it on cd and feel the need to ventilate this on this website. Of course they have the right to do so. The irony is they will nevertheless buy the vinyl box (save for the odd exception), because that is what they do: *collect*. Even the fact that it does not exist as a cd package adds to the collectability of the item. It has a ring of exclusivity to it, which it should have being a “Super Deluxe Edition”.

    The point is, not releasing it on cd, is a very thinly veiled marketing ploy, that will actually work. The collectors *will* buy it, the casual listeners won’t. Moreover, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least that this set *will* eventually be released on cd after all, and lo and behold: I guarantee the collectors will buy it for a second time (with some of them going on a rant all over again).

    What it comes down to is this: you either buy it or you don’t. If you decide to buy it, you shouldn’t rant. If you don’t decide to buy it, you’ve made your point by not doing so and you shouldn’t rant. If your opinion differs from mister Costello’s, that means you would have liked to see it out on cd. Sure, you can write that and let the world know. The fact is, it won’t be out on cd, and what everyone does with that *still* remains his or her choice.

    In the end the market, governed by the simple principle of supply and demand, will, as always, dictate the proceedings. No rant will ever change that.

    On a personal side note, how any music collector taking himself seriously can be without a record player, is beyond me.

    Now let me take the piss! ;-)

    • Dean says:

      I can’t understand how any “music collector taking himself seriously” can be so closed minded. I grew up in the 70’s, and know full well about Vinyl. I know it’s high’s, and I know its lows. It’s amazing people don’t want to admit there are drawbacks.

      Regardless – it’s a lie to say Vinyl sounds better. That said, Vinyl v. a badly mastered CD, Vinyl wins. Just as a bad master will render Vinyl poor. It’s not the medium – it’s the mastering.

      Regardless – if they don’t want to do Redbook because of quality issues – do SACD or Blu-Ray audio. Problem solved. Bottom line – the medium you prefer doesn’t mark you as a “music collector”.

      Why does this stuff need explaining in 2020?!?

      • SimonH says:

        Here, here!
        This view that only vinyl buyers are ‘real’ music fans is really silly, but sadly commonly encountered!
        As much as I’m not a streaming fan, in the end it’s the music not the medium, hence I’m perfectly happy buying a scuffed up secondhand cd for £2 if I discover some great music.

      • Wayne K says:

        Exactly @dean. Perfectly said.

    • Hans says:

      I will not buy old fashioned vinyl for an exorbitant price but wait for a CD release. It’s a easy as this!

  49. Neil Hendry says:

    I am an avid collector – but I collect CDs…I am not going to start streaming and downloading or going back to vinyl. All it will do is push me away from buying music. This is already happening with vinyl or download only releases from other artists and it is a trend that I only see continuing unfortunately. In this case, I would happily pay about £100 for a decent Armed Forces deluxe box set on CD – that is revenue I would have thought that is not to be sniffed at. Keep it as a limited edition of 2,000 globally and you make £200,000 in revenue with a production cost well below that of the vinyl equivalents and probably yielding a higher gross margin as a result. I just don’t see the logic of forcing people to make choices of this kind when the industry is struggling overall.

  50. Tonk says:

    Who can blame the old git in wanting to keep his old audience fit?

    “There y’go Mrs Simms, that’s the end of Side 1 – now all you have to do is get up and go over and change it to Side 2.”
    “Oh alright then dear, if you insist!”
    Puff puff puff as ageing Costello fan grumbles her way out of her chair and over to the communal record deck. All other inmates in the meantime have fallen comatose with boredom.
    A little later:
    “There y’go Mrs Simms, that’s the end of Side 2- now all you have to do is get up and go over and change it to the next LP . . . ”
    “Oh dear, how many sides did you say there were again dear? 16??!”
    “Yes and don’t you think it was clever of your nephew to send you this to keep you fit -if you’re lucky later on Mr. Johnson might ask you for a dance to (I don’t want to go to) Chelsea!”

  51. Dean says:

    A transparent “follow the money” mentality. Costello wasn’t complaining when he did the Rhino reissues on CD (which sounds great, by the way).

    Furthermore – what of SACD, Blu-Ray? At best he means “Redbook”, but in ignorance he’s made this silly statement. It’s all self-serving.

    Still, the bottom line is – if he stops doing CD or SACD, then he and I will part company. He won’t get any more of my money. I’m not going to be forced to buy a record player just to hear a reissued album from the 70’s. I don’t stream. I’ve enjoyed buying his music.

    Costello is denying me the music with this decision, which is his choice. He simply won’t get my money, and he’s drawing a line under a career-long fan. Well done Declan, what a lovely way to be treated by someone I admire.


    • Gary C says:

      Armed Forces is a fine album, and there are some interesting things on this release. I don’t have that kinda money tho, and for me it’s more the price than the format. I’m not gonna get my knickers in a twist about it tho, format or price wise.
      I’m not gonna stop appreciating someone’s music because I can’t afford their next thing or because they’ve released it in a format I don’t accept.

  52. Ern says:

    Mr Costello better hope that the vinyl pressing is faultless or he will feel like that “horrible little booklet which gets ripped the second time you take it out of the plastic sleeve.”

  53. Jonathan says:

    Great album and the package looks good but £200+ is too rich for me. Whilst I buy vinyl and/or CD, in this instance I would’ve bought the cheaper cd version if it were available, so won’t be buying this. With regard to his comments I’d suspect physical purchases in general are on the decline these days as most people (certainly my friends) are happy to stream. No CD version is I think a missed opportunity as are cut down sets with subsets of material.

  54. James A Gates says:

    And speaking of “had their day”….

  55. Jim Galvin says:

    Another “Artist” that wants to help abandon the CD format, if Vinyl is such a superior storage system why is it so easy to scratch a vinyl record than a CD? Chances are the pressing will leave us flustered on vinyl anyway since no one seems to know how to properly press an LP Centered for one and without pops and clicks. So thanks anyway Elvis, keep your vinyl. No CD, No Purchase

  56. Bill says:

    As noted in the article, Mr Costello’s comments were unprompted and, perhaps, off the cuff and not fully thought through. It would be interesting to know what the tone of the response comments here would have been if he had made a better effort of the boxset. For example, the complete Hollywood High concert on vinyl would not seem beyond the wit of man and would, IMHO, make the box far more attractive. As it is, it feels a bit thrown together. Hey ho. Life is full of disappointments.

  57. Mark S says:

    As a playback storage medium CD and lossless (16/44.1 or better) FLAC/WAV (“Digital”) are technically superior in terms of audio than vinyl.

    However you have to then consider two other factors:

    1) Mastering
    2) Quality of DAC where the source recording is digital; playback DAC (digital l) vs. vinyl mastering DAC.

    Often the combination of these two factors can result in vinyl sounding better than digital.

    In terms of portability neither CD or Vinyl win here for me as I use a 2TB USB drive in the car which is an exact replica of my home server and a 256GB iPhone both using lossless FLAC.

    Note Scott’s remasters of Visages’ first two albums ripped from CD to lossless FLAC sound better than anything I have on vinyl

  58. Prince Fan says:

    At least with a new CD, you know it’s most likely to play OK. I see lots of people moaning about vinyl physical defects on Discogs – warped, surface noise, off-centre spindle holes, etc. for new releases that play perfectly on CD.

  59. Kiwi bob says:

    Chris Cornell Compilation

    2 LP about 17 tracks $85NZD

    4 CD about 63 tracks $75NZD

    Enough said

  60. Kevin Brown says:

    With reference to Tom Walsh’s saying he prefers Vinyl and said CD has had it’s day because even Car Manufacturers Do Not fit CD players to their cars anymore………
    As far as I’m aware they don’t fit Turntables to their cars either…… is that a good reason to say CD has had it’s day. Obviously CD has not had it’s day because even looking at all the CD support on this post alone backs up the support for CD format.
    I buy Vinyl and CD but I nearly always listen to most of my music on CD and they sound fantastic to me when played through my Hi Fi system……I don’t know what’s not to like you have a physical product with a Disc which generally has a really great sound delevery.

  61. Edwin M says:

    Uncle Elvis actually means the sales margin of a cd box is inferior to that of a vinyl box. Sound and sales are both with S, probably mixed them up.
    Well, never meant to buy it anyway.

    • Martin Kilroy says:

      Yes, he does specifically say that cd sales were a compromise that didn’t pay the artist properly. It reminds me of when Prince left Warner and started selling music through his website. I remember one interview that asked him if he was worried about income now that he was selling in the 1’000’s rather than 1,000 000’s and he said no as he makes significantly more from each sale.

  62. Tom Walsh says:

    It is obviously about a retrospective justification of a financial decision by Costello. I am more a vinyl person now. Wouldn’t buy anything “new” on CD , it has had its day. New cars generally don’t come with CDs and neither do most new laptops. But he should at least give a choice.

  63. Paul E. says:

    “Fake news!” said an orange man once (or twice). If Elvis Costello wants to change up the music industry he should have a chat with Neil Young about Pono [the player and the digital store]. THIS Elvis should put down the chicken sandwich and eat his own words instead.

  64. MaccafanVegas says:

    Last LP I bought was in 1987 (Sly & the Family Stone “Greatest Hits” that hadn’t been issued on CD yet). Over 5,000 CDs later, it’s far and away the best sonic storage system. Having purchased a multitude of reissues and box sets over the years, the sound quality of CDs continues to improve. EC was never that important to me; I’ll stick with the Ryko and Rhino reissues I own. Not interested in vinyl at all and certainly won’t support an artist who doesn’t feel that his release deserves a CD release.

  65. wayne k. says:

    Dear Elvis:
    Get stuffed. The reason you’re selling the vinyl is simple-you can charge more. I would have ordered and I buy vinyl as well but I guess, if you’re going to make the decision for me, I won’t be ordering.


  66. Collector says:

    If nobody buys the expensive vinyl box sets, the prices will come down.

  67. Stan Butler says:

    Just bought myself a CD and it wasn’t an Elvis Costello one.

  68. p britten says:

    I was a massive EC & the Attractions fan in the late seventies and early eighties. And I was so happy and grateful, some years later, when the Ryko (Demon for you in the UK) reissues appeared. At last, I would be able to replace my vinyl copies of those albums, which now sounded like s**t, not because (I swear!!!) I had not taken proper care of them, but because I had played them too often.
    So, even though I respect EC as an artist, I’m not going backwards for this so-called “Complete” Armed Forced set on vinyl just so I can hear 23 unreleased live tracks and read a third set of EC liner notes about this album (not counting the part of his memoir devoted to this subject).
    In my admittedly very humble opinion, this is just a fancy coffee table art object aimed at fetishists, collectors and any other sorts of old maids.

  69. Michael says:

    I reached a firm decision quite some time ago about this issue. Pretty sure it was when Goldfrapp released the boxset of Tales Of Us which very unfairly featured a deluxe cd edition only available in the box which also included the vinyl and a book. Great looking piece of work too. Won’t be suckered, won’t be conned. I could never return to that format. It’s too vulnerable.

  70. Dennis says:

    All formats are fine….it’s a big world. For those who went all in on streaming and sold their CD collections…..please keep doing that as my collection has grown tremendously over the last few years in buying used discs. As far as EC……I wasn’t buying Armed Forces again in any format. LOL.

  71. Brad B. says:

    This looks like another great article for any music industry folks still employed & engaged in their work to see these reactions; honestly in EC’s case he probably still gets a better mechanical & publishing royalty per CD unit sold then he ever will in streaming (unless he never bothered to renegotiate any of his contracts, which I figured him as smarter than that). Regardless, maybe anyone remotely interested in this box set in question should just boycott this particular release, even if it’s painful as a fan & collector. Instead, people could instead just go and buy ONLY the CD version of his new album. Might not be enough to skew opinions but maybe enough to skew EC’s bottom line to think twice before abandoning a format that clearly enough people will still pay for.

  72. LowPop says:

    I don’t see this as Elvis being greedy, as many have speculated. I have tremendous respect for his perspective and let’s face it, it’s not anything that other analog-minded musicians (think Neil Young, Jack White, Eddie Kramer, Steven Wilson, etc.) haven’t been saying for many years now. To me, there are pros to the CD format… easy to store, care for and transport (very difficult to play an LP in the car). For artists that record albums digitally, there’s no difference between vinyl and CD. Analog recordings however are a different story. Vinyl captures the full analog wave. CDs sample from from it. It can never be fully replicated. That’s just science. Whether or not you’re able to hear the difference will always be subjective. Nirvana’s Nevermind, to me, sounds like a completely different album on vinyl when compared with the CD.

    He makes a solid argument for hi-res as it covers several of the pros that CDs provide, not to mention sounding better too. Personally, I’m a buyer of several formats, mostly due to the (intentional?) lack of content continuity across formats. Extra tracks available only on one format or the other, some have marbles while others lack marbles… While I really like hi-res downloads, streaming and Blu-rays, I grew up in the era of double gatefold albums with booklets and posters. So, I completely agree with Mr Costello on that front. CD booklets always seemed like mini replicas of the actual thing.

    Now, can we all agree that DVDs are on borrowed time? Do we really need Blu-rays and DVDs?

    • blink says:

      “ Vinyl captures the full analog wave. CDs sample from from it. It can never be fully replicated. That’s just science.”

      Yes, and it is also science that the part of the wave that cannot be replicated lies outside the range of the human ear. That is where the 44.1 comes in… it absolutely accurately replicates up to half that rate

    • noyoucmon says:

      LowPop says, “[C]an we all agree that DVDs are on borrowed time? Do we really need Blu-rays and DVDs?”

      No, they are not on borrowed time. And yes, we need physical discs of this type if we want unfettered access to films released on the medium. Streaming services routinely pull films from their available catalogs. It is a folly to expect that everything you want will be offered to you by streaming companies in perpetuity. I routinely hear people lament that a movie they want is no longer available on their streaming service; meanwhile, I pull the DVD out of my closet and enjoy it.

      • LowPop says:

        Just to clarify, I wasn’t implying that DVDs could be replaced by streaming services but rather standardizing on Blu-ray. To me it doesn’t make sense after all these years to have both formats.

  73. Paul Kent says:

    I was going to post my opinion but realised EC himself can sum it better than I can…

    “Maybe I’ll never get over the change in style,
    But I don’t want to lock you up and say you’re mine,
    Don’t want to lose you or say goodbye,
    I’m the guilty party and I want my slice.”
    – Party Girl

    “Now you’re ready for the merger,
    With the company you’re part of,
    And you do the dirty business,
    With your latest sleeping partner.”
    – Busy Bodies

    “Sunday’s best, Sunday’s finest,
    When your money’s in the minus,
    And you suffer from your shyness,
    You can listen to us whiners.”
    – Sunday’s Best

    “Why are we racing to be so old?
    I’m up late pacing the floor, I won’t be told,
    You have your reservations, I’m bought and sold.”
    – Two Little Hitlers

    All lyrics taken from my 2-CD Edsel deluxe edition of “Armed Forces”.

    Economical Facism, anyone?

  74. Craig says:

    What has really stuffed this release is the price. The non issue of a CD format has also contributed to the panning EC is getting over this. He has misjudged it big time and, looking at the apparent poor pre-order figures, EC himself has come out to try and defend this botched release. In the article he mentions that artists don’t get properly paid from CD’s. That speaks volumes as to where his head is at. He is slso shown to be hypocritical in that his new album gets a CD release. If the CD is, in his opinion, a spent force why release the new album with a CD option? I’ve been a fan and collector since 1977 but the recent flood of multiple variant, colour vinyl issues of the last couple of albums are demonstrably beyond greed and EC’s apparent ‘out of touch’ neglect for his fan base is, frankly, disappointing.

  75. noyoucmon says:

    Costello has been a major, major favorite of mine for over 40 years, but his comments here just remind me of McCartney being out of touch with his Flowers in the Dirt set. Different circumstances, but his comments here are weak (“The booklet [of a CD] rips as soon as you take it out”?). Costello really believes scattering live tracks across multiple 10″ records is a superior delivery mechanism?

    A month ago I told myself “I’ll buy whatever Armed Forces box he gives me and will be happy about it,” and then I saw what it was. If this is how it’s going to be, Elvis, you’ll make even less money (since you bring that up as well as another reason why CDs are inferior), because I and others I know won’t be buying this or any other box you make in this same way.

  76. William Keats says:

    I can take or leave vinyl, and have a closet full as evidence! But I do buy whatever an artist I collect in at least CD format, and if no CD is issued, I’ll consent to vinyl. I like the Bandcamp model (although this will never be a strategy Elvis would accept) where along with a physical option as vinyl (or less often, a CD), you automatically get your choice of download formats providing CD-quality audio (flac, wav, aiff) of items that might not ever have a physical CD release, plus the standard MP3 / AAC options. Although you have to pay more than digital only for getting the physical product (and you should!), you also automatically get *all* of the download options at no extra charge. One downside is there is no art provided apart from a cover, should you make your own CD. For a deluxe box, that’s a deal breaker for me, as I like the fat books and video when it’s provided.

    • Scott Smith says:

      A few Bandcamp downloads I’ve gotten lately (along with the purchase of physical media, which I still want) have been 24-bit/96k. For people who want the higher quality digital file it’s a nice bonus. They haven’t charged any more for it. They haven’t even mentioned it. It’s just what you get.

  77. Dr Volume says:

    Streaming, not Vinyl, is beating CD as the mainstream consumer choice for normal civilians who just want to listen to music. The same people in the past who just owned 10 CDs on a little rack or shoved in the car glovebox. All those discs are now in charity shops who can hardly give them away, or bundle them 4 for a £1 whether it’s This Year’s Model or Swing When You’re Winning. That’s done a lot to devalue the CD, as has Music Magpie pricing and newspaper giveaways but mostly it’s the streaming services.
    I have friends who think I’m potty for spending more on one Vinyl or CD than they pay for a month of Spotify or Apple Music, I’m sure a lot of us do!

  78. Alan Blevin says:

    “Demonstrably inferior to vinyl as a sonic storage system” is just nonsense.This is largely about the high profit margins on vinyl albums.
    Better treasure Hello Clockface as it sounds like it might be the last Costello album I will be able to buy.I have bought everything since My Aim Is True so breaking up will be hard-but not too hard after this outburst.
    Speaking as someone who had a collection of 1500 vinyl albums that I sold off 20 years ago and haven’t had a nanosecond of regret about doing since then all you are doing by excluding cds is excluding a significant amount of your fan base.

    • John MC cann says:

      Do you not regret selling all your records a couple of years ago, instead of 20 years ago,?

      • Alan Blevin says:

        Normally I would say yes.However at the time I was selling them because I rarely played them,my turntable had just broken down and we had just moved into a new house with young children and my wife had plans for that storage area.I was going to take them to a shop that might give me a dollar an album and I had lots of good stuff -imports,half speed mastered albums etc-and they were mostly in immaculate condition with all of them stored in plastic covers including the packaging.When I mentioned I was getting rid of them to a friend of mine he was horrified as years of them were talismans of our university days where my record collection was a big social gathering point.
        He bought the lot for the price I was going to get anyway,had them shipped from Sydney to Melbourne where he lives and I get to visit them when I visit him and his family for the Formula 1
        Grand Prix each year.Kept them in the “family”.

  79. Paul S says:

    To me there’s a place for both formats.
    I choose which artist I buy on which format, pink floyd, dire straights for example sound superior to me on vinyl than cd.
    Eminem, dance music for example I would buy and prefer on cd.
    The other thing for me is you can buy a cheap CD player and get away with a decent sound, you can’t (in my opinion) buy a cheap turntable and set up and get great sound.

    • Jack says:

      Very salient and important point, Paul.
      Vinyl is a real investment in time, space and money! I continue to buy cds in preference to vinyl because of the space and weight and convenience issues, let alone the fact cds don’t deteriorate (I can think of only a couple that have become unplayable in 35 years of collecting).

  80. Jeremy says:

    Has any post received this many comments before? Not really surprising. I’d better add one to keep the numbers climbing. As many have said this, like practically every release decision made by every record company (or artist), is all about maximizing profit. I don’t blame artists – especially in the current circumstances – for wanting to make as much money as they can from the sale of their records. Who wouldn’t? But they might remember that consumers are also living in uncertain times and most are having to make careful decisions about which box sets to buy and which not to buy. Value and choice matter. Not a good time to piss off your fan base.

  81. Scott Martin says:

    Total flog, couldn’t give a fat rat’s clacker about vinyl, why would i pay $50.00 Aussie for vinyl when i can get the same album on cd for $15.00?
    And then you put the record on and have to tip-toe around so the record doesn’t jump, and why does the booklet in a cd get ripped when you take it out?
    Taking the booklet out isn’t rocket science, be careful when you do it, simple, as i said, Costello is a total flog and besides, as an artist he’s about as interesting and talented as a wet bag of hammers.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      You can disagree with his opinion, but to say he’s not talented doesn’t strengthen your argument. Costello may be many things, but untalented he ain’t.

      • Paul Kent says:

        …but, why was the bag of hammers wet? Hmmm, interesting.

      • Christian Peter Schmitz says:

        I have to agree there. There are very few musicians of such critical standing, that have so little to offer musically. BUT, one will interject, there’s the jazz stuff, the work with Burt Bacharach etc., but sorry, with Costello, I mainly see a lot of pretension & posturing, and I hear an unlistenable voice. Regardless – looks like a fun boxset – I understand that it is upsetting for lots of folks, but the creator ultimately doesn’t owe fans anything.

  82. Ron Weslosky says:

    I respect his opinion. Personally; I think he’s making a financial mistake.

  83. Fozzie says:

    I have found that it is only Elvis Costello’s CDs that sound inferior.
    Other artists CDs sound wonderful in comparison.

  84. Alex says:

    I think I’ll offer a young person’s perspective. I’m 24 and in Grad School. When I was in Middle School and High School, I was constantly thinking “Oh I’ll get vinyl records cause they sound nicer, and I’ll enjoy them when I’m older and can afford a turntable that isn’t a Crosley POS.” And eventually, I stopped buying vinyl because of the price. I own about 10-15 or so albums on vinyl, half bought half gifts, almost all are newer represses or newer boxes. But for me, for the cost of one record ($25) I could buy either two CDs or an iTunes card to buy and download the music I want and listen to it when I want it. A CD I can pop in my laptop’s CD drive (those still exist they just make the laptop a little more expensive) and import it and drop it onto my iPhone for enjoyment.

    I will freely admit that almost all the music I have on my laptop is imported from CDs I got from my local library. Yeah, it’s piracy, but as a kid I wanted to listen to anything I could get my hands on, and my mom barely made enough money to keep her and I fed, in clothes, and with a roof over our heads. But for the things I couldn’t get via the library, I am happy that I have the option of buying a download. Yeah I don’t get the nice packaging, but I don’t like most of it anyway when a lot of it is just fluff like reproduction tickets or photo books or concert posters. I care about the music on the discs, and that music should be accessable to anyone no matter the format, and locking people out (even the people who can only afford to stream via Spotify) to some or all of a box set is gross.

    • Steve Bliss says:

      > Yeah, it’s piracy

      Been there when I was in school – even after. Borrowed from the library, borrowed from friends, put the good stuff on cassettes. Decades later, I still have all those old tapes. It’s kinda nice now because I’m going back and actually buying some of the stuff I couldn’t afford back in the day. Of course, I’m buying most of it used, so the artists still aren’t getting their cut (from me). OTOH, I’m buying loads of deluxe and super deluxe reissues, so they’re getting some money that way.

      Elvis has never really been my thing, I can appreciate his financial stance. But even if I were a fan, I’d be hard-pressed to buy this release from him.

  85. Michael G says:

    Sorry I’m buying more cd than vinyl,you can go into any supermarket which sells media,more cds than vinyl for sale.
    Recently bought the Dire Straits Box Set from Sainsbury’s if it’s good enough for them then it’s good enough for anybody to sell their music via the cd format.
    Must be still in a bubble thinking he is a bigger artist than he really is,turned into pub singer in the last few years.

  86. The Golden Age Of The Phonograph says:

    Costello looks like a used car salesman in the photo at the top.

    What has he got in common with a used car salesman? He’s trying to sell old bangers over and over again.

    That OK Paul?

  87. Dave H says:

    He is wrong and although I love the album this set is seriously misjudged. I have the original UK vinyl which is great. I have the CD from the first box set he put out. I really think this a ridiculous cash grab. He has been looking at Paul McCartney but he is seriously misunderstanding his fan base here. Would have been interested in an expanded version but this pricing is farcical. The original album was £2.99. An easy no from me. Sorry Elvis. Good album, poor argument. He feels ripped off by CD and his answer is to rip off his fans. Nice one!

  88. Carl says:

    I have 100`s of vinyl LP`s (in the loft) , always hated the crackles and pops , i love CD but it has such a range that it can show up the inferior recording of certain albums , thats why a relly good remaster is important , to mask and boost frequencies where necessary.
    He`s talking crap basically except about the artwork and booklet.

  89. revroth says:

    It may be way too late to do anything about this one, but if you care as much about this as I do, and want to see future installments of Elvis’ new reissue series on CD, you may want to do as I just did and sent a note to his management at:

    I’d suggest keeping it respectful and brief, if we want to be heard and taken seriously rather than seen as comment-section cranks. But please do it, I don’t see a better way to get our voices heard in this regard.

  90. Andrew B says:

    Huge EC fan and very impressed by what I have heard of Hey Clockface so far and looking forward to hearing the rest but as regards the Armed Forces box I count 23 unreleased live tracks is all you get for your £200. I would pay £15 for a double CD of the 2 gigs in question if he was offering but that would be it. The vinyl box idea seems cynical and short-sighted as is his denunciation of CD in its favour and I can’t see it selling.

  91. Chris says:

    Methinks Mr. MacManus is getting forgetful in his old age.
    In the early nineties, when he rescued his back catalog from Columbia and brought it to Rykodisc, no new vinyl was pressed. Each CD contained extra tracks and has seemed an ok “sonic storage system” until now.
    This reeks of a cash grab by EC. He can claim, now, how analogue is superior to digital. But all I can think of is how many extra zeroes he can add to his bank account by charging exorbitant prices for a boutique item like vinyl.

  92. Marcel says:

    I am not sure i like picking sides in this discussion. All formats can be great. I love “holding the music in my hands” however (copyright Paul Sinclair) so have been going for vinyl the last couple of years. But when a great boxset like the Divine Comedy one was brought to my attention by this very website i ordered it immediately. This EC boxset looks tantalizing but not at the current price. Value for money this is not. My prediction is that EC will be left with great numbers of them and sell them at a more reasonable price in a year’s time. If not I accept missing this item and will be on the lookout for a good second hand edition of this classic album.

  93. Woodsey Niles says:

    “Armed Forces” is my all-time favorite Elvis Costello album. I would jump at the chance to buy it in a super deluxe CD box set but I’m not interested in vinyl. I know this is absolutely outrageous to say, but I don’t see how a vinyl recording full of the inevitable, unavoidable clicks, snaps, crackles, pops, skips and jumps is superior in sound to a CD. To my ear it just isn’t. Keep in mind that I have over 2,800 lps in my collection and I know all about high end audio equipment and proper lp maintenance.

    I have never had a CD fail due to physical deterioration although the horror story spread (by the vinyl people) when CDs initially became prominent was that CDs will disintegrate or otherwise self-destruct within a few years. Meanwhile my copy of Donald Fagen’s “The Nightfly” (my very first CD purchase) still sounds as pristine as the day I bought it. I will concede that the album cover as an artform is greatly superior to CD cases, but that’s a separate issue.

    I’ll continue to acquire my music in CD form until they are no longer available. Call me old fashioned, but I prefer to hold something tangible in my hands as opposed to buying some nebulous logarithm based download floating around in the air (talk about a lack of sonic “warmth!”). These may be famous last words but it’s where I stand.

    Perhaps, long after my death, CD’s will make a dramatic, ironic comeback as a nostalgic music medium – the only difference being that, just like today’s lps, they will cost 5 times as much as they do now for no apparent reason – and purists will clamor to declare that they are superior to everything else. Some things never change.

  94. Larry Davis says:

    I love both formats, but for me, with CD, you can fit more music on a single disc, so boxsets are more ideal for CD, because if a set has 10 discs worth of music, each with 79/80 minutes full, all that music on vinyl would be highly expensive & heavy to store…I do love artwork on vinyl & coloured vinyl, but that much vinyl if you have a large collection would push you out of your house!! So for storage purposes, it’s CD all the way…with occasional vinyl pieces, like RSD releases and mixed media boxsets & titles not on CD…it’s unfortunate that EC is against CD, I may buy the Armed Forces boxset if the price drops, but his whole catalogue is frikking huge, you would need a whole apartment to store it all properly if all on vinyl!! No thanks…as for booklets too thick for plastic jewel cases, I hate that…but as for CD packaging, you can be creative with it & make it as good as vinyl boxsets…the UMC ones of John Lennon, Thompsons & Bobby Gentry, and the Edsel ones of Bob Mould, Dead Or Alive, Debbie Gibson, Transvision Vamp, Gene, Ace of Base & M People…and Prince’s Sign O The Times…and the Manics boxes for starters…great design & easily readable booklets…EC coulda done a Lennon with an Armed Forces CD set, instead of doing a Sade…altho that thing might be on CD…

  95. Andrea says:

    Way to go Elvis! Contrarian as always :)))

    I subscribe to every word he said…

    I just wish vinyl manufacturers would drop the “180 gr” nonsense as it’s totally inconsequential to audio quality – and my shelves are collapsing…

  96. Marxisn't says:

    A shame as I would have bought this on CD… On vinyl = sorry not interested. This vinyl vs cd is an argument that is pointless. There has been numerous subterfuge done in the name of cd mastering in a way to ‘prove’ that vinyl sounds better than CD. People like the warmth of vinyl, the bottom end and natural distortion that goes with it… And I respect that. However that does not mean CD is not an inferior product = just different. CD still sells more than vinyl but let’s be honest it’s all about artist, product and profit turnover. Perhaps if Elvis could have done a surround sound and released it on Blu-ray, then Mr. Costello would truly have had a point.

  97. Phil Dennison says:

    Elvis seems to have forgotten that his first CD box set, “Two And A Half Years” released in 1993, was in a 12 inch box with a big booklet…

  98. Todd says:

    Hands down, LPs (my short-form for Vinyl) will always win out over CD for me. But for the sake of listening time – mostly in the car for me – CD still provides me the needed access. If not that, then yes, some kind of digital jump drive. I love vinyl, and the resurgence (Record Store Day etc) that it’s brought to the world and (hopefully) the next generation of music buyers/consumers. But I think CD as a medium is no where near dead as far as I can tell.

  99. Jacob says:

    Viva CD! Viva format choice.

    Now if more computers could come with disc drives again so I can get back to making “mix tapes” from my CDs…. in fact include a built in cassette deck along with the disc drive for a superdeluxe PC mix machine

  100. Quatrmass says:

    I dunno… I prefer vinyl to CD on single disc reissue albums. But in box set world, CDs are the way to go every time… unless you really need the exercise of jumping up to turn over/change the record every 25-20 minutes.

    As far as Armed Forces is concerned… it was the weakest of his first three albums, and if you really want to hear the Attractions transition, you have to go back a year to the This Year’s Model tour. Now those were phenomenal, even dangerous sounding shows. Armed Forces gigs were smooooth by comparison.

    Finally, yes vinyl is superior for storage. But only if your sources remain analogue. If, as I suspect, the new package has been digitally remastered etc, then using vinyl is simply a trendy affectation….

    Nah, Elvis would never do that.

  101. michael mcclain says:

    as in past early instances in his career: his mouth get’s in the way of his logical mind.

  102. Moe says:

    What a putz, Declan!!! Neil Young is the ultimate “sound quality geek” of musical artists and he still issues his releases on CD, so I’m calling bollocks on your “fake news.” What a load of crap. It’s about the $$$. No worries, though. Us CD-onlyers (sic) can look forward to the bootleggers putting together a marvelous 3-4 CD set (albeit without all the bells and whistles) of this vinyl-only folly. (It’s the music that matters.) Always enjoyed your entertaining liner notes…should be able to find those online eventually.
    Excuse me while I cue up Nick’s “Music For Money” now

  103. Greg Pappas says:

    I’m shocked that Elvis Costello would make the re-issue of Armed Forces all about format and arbitrarily deny a sizeable portion of his fanbase the opportunity to buy it on CD. His words tend to indicate that this is more a financial decision on his part than an artistic one. However, he would certainly make more money on a limited run of a CD version than on any streaming income. He also has an opportunity to design a more artistic CD package than the norm. All this is in his control. Elvis is coming off as an elitist who wants to dictate to his fans how they can purchase this re-issue and if they don’t like it then he could care less. If this is how treats his fanbase then I think he is in for a rude surprise when his CD buying fans decide to exercise their judgement that they don’t care about him!

  104. John says:

    Like many I was excited to hear about the Complete Armed Forces announcement. Later when the details were issued I was disappointed with the contents, and then to discover it was vinyl only and at £200 I simply dismissed it as overpriced nonsense. I’d already purchased every other new expanded edition since it’s initial release.
    I too would have pressed “buy now” immediately for a decent CD box set of the Complete Armed Forces at £40-50. So instead EC will not receive a penny from me this time. A wasted opportunity for what I thought would be the start of a fantastic reissue campaign.

  105. Wax Monster X says:

    Great to see all the CD positives here. I have loved both formats but for 30+ years the edge is to CD. You can easily rig up a higher quality system for CD playback way cheaper than a high quality LP playback system. That being said I have spent the price of a luxury car on audio gear to get the best from both formats and that really is the crux of the issue. Obviously if the original source is junk ie new vinyl (which I hate), or brickwalled CDs than its all moot. These kids today who think a 400.00 turntable is gonna make that 60.00 new vinyl sing are mistaken. There are so many factors to good vinyl playback that the casual listener is not even aware of. With CD playback it’s idiot proof. LP degradation begins at the 5th spin. 5th!! That’s not good value for money. Unless your a record company, then it’s a great value as you will need to replace that LP again and sooner rather than later. So Mr. Costello you will lose in the end by your greedy shortsighted approach.

  106. Ken Croteau says:

    Interesting, only problem is I can’t play LP’s in my car and like many folks I do the majority of my music listening on the move. I really thought sacd, dvd or blu ray would become the new optical standard but doesn’t seem like that will happen. Affording higher sampling rates and possibility to include pics, clips, and surround at a fraction of what it costs to print vinyl seems like a no brainer to me.

  107. Milosz says:

    A compact disc “really is demonstrably inferior to vinyl, as a sonic storage system”?!? He really doesn’t know what he is talking about. From a technical standpoint, it is utter rubbish. Only thing I like about vinyl is the artwork in a big format. Surely not the sound, which is simply bad by today’s standards, whereas red-book CD is still as good a digital format as you can get. Not better than what you can get o Tidal etc. but good enough for every human ear. Truth is that the format designed 40 years ago by great Sony and Philips engineers is as good as it ever was because human hearing does not evolve as fast.

  108. Glenn Roger says:

    I completely disagree on Elvis Costello’s viewpoint on CD’s. If they are such a has-been then why are the Japanese constantly reinventing them and offering new and innovative discs for sound quality? They offer the Blu-Spec, SHM format, and most recently the Hi-Res CD ( MQA x UHQCD )
    The sound on a lot of these CD’s are phenomenal! And I have many! And what do you say to the individual group or artist that releases an album of new or old material and use the actual master tapes? The sound can be startling. I like vinyl and have some but the reality is that I own a library of CD’s and continue to add to them. Which sort of counters the point that Elvis Costello is trying to make.

  109. Long Live the Past says:

    £50 extra for the coloured vinyl set compared to the black. Cheeky.

  110. smorrissey says:

    My theory is different, music industry is trying to bring the vinyl back and kill the CD in order to go back in time where they used to make tons of money from it when no illegal cd copies or files extracted from them exist… but guess what? that will not happen, the only king right now is louder and distorted streaming.

  111. Kevin says:

    This from the man who- at one point, was neck and neck with Bowie in the number of times his catalogue had been reissued on CD.

  112. CosmoCastanza says:

    Armed Forces is my favourite album of Mr Costello , I played it non stop on release. But I have no intentions of paying £200 + for any product by any artist. My son has just graduated a Master degree in Physics and struggling to find work in this miserable world. How can I give any already very rich musician 2oo quid when I could it to my son whilst still able to play both the album and cd for nowt ?

  113. What’s left to say. Elvis Costello has made many great records and like everybody else is entitled to give us his opinion. CDs still easily outsell LPs and as a 72 year old man I have many hundreds of both “sonic storage systems” .
    Why not just issue in both formats and stop being provocative for it’s own sake. He obviously doesn’t need any more royalties from CD sales so lets just give him what he wants. We’ll all be able to spend the cash saved on the music of artists who are willing to cater for all collectors.

  114. martin farnworth says:

    I don’t mind buying a CD when it comes to a boxset. You still usually getting something substantial in terms of looking good. He’s comments aren’t necessarily relevant when it comes to a boxset release in terms of small text/artwork. Of course it’s going to be cheaper on but why would it be a given that an artist won’t be paid a decent cut and using this as a reason for alienating a huge proportion of your potential buyers.

    I can bear Costello telling us “what’s what” and having an opinion but taking away the choice is i’m sure somewhat disappointing for many fans.

  115. bruce kelso says:

    the get happy era =lp assorted a/b sides was the only time i really liked him . this lp does nothin for me at all. he is a singer/song writer and not all that he puts out is always that great but as a artist he does have a following. anyway his new release is a CD!!!!!!!!. go figure

  116. Jurgen says:

    I didn’t read every comment because everything positive I wanted to say about cd’s was already said. The first thing I thought about Costello’s opinion was … “Oh no, here we go again!”
    I buy vinyl, cd’s, audio dvd’s and Blu-ray’s (for the 5.1 surround mixes). Every medium has its pros and cons. Let the customer choose.

  117. Burt says:

    I wouldn’t spend a penny on anything from Elvis Costello, literally.

    CD’s still sell hell of a lot. I love them , for me, the only drawback is the poxy little booklet & there’s no doubt the industry is trying to kill it off – re can you buy a new car with a CD player? Can you buy a new computer with a CD / disc drive? That’s what will do the market in. I can see CD’s become a die hard niche thing. There’s a whole generation out there who don’t even own physical media so when the likes of me stop spending / die off, who’s going to buy “Music you can hold in your hands”? That’s a question.

    • ARidd says:

      CD’s. Can’t read the sleeve notes to start with. A fair percentage are as tinny as hell. Older (pre-cd) music can often sound nothing like you remember them. And they can still scratch and jump! I’ve had cassettes down the years that often sounded better than a cd but I’ve never had a vinyl that sounded worse than a cd.
      If vinyl is looked after and treated properly then they won’t scratch, hiss or jump and will sound just as good decades later. The sound is richer and deeper than any cd. The sleeves can be works of art, and you can READ them.
      I buy music in all formats; vinyl, cd, sacd, dvd, blu-ray – but only cd has limitations that can disappoint. Buy cd for convenience but buy vinyl for the sound!

      • Sean Hewitt says:

        “ I’ve had cassettes down the years that often sounded better than a cd…”

        Really? That’s interesting. Can’t say I believe it but it takes all sorts.

        • ARidd says:

          If you had a top quality tape deck and hi fi system, making your own recordings on top quality tape stock from a quality source, then yes it could sound superior to cd. Slave to the Rhythm and Sledgehammer for example sounded immense! Sadly however, the tapes proved to have nothing like the longevity of cds and vinyl, and became unplayable many years ago. Not a format worth reviving!

  118. Rik Skyline says:

    Elvis doesn’t know what he’s talking about. CD’s rock, and they aren’t going anywhere.

    • Mark says:

      CDs are superior to vinyl as far as sound quality—vinyl is fetishized as a relic of an analog age, but if you take care of CDs, store them properly, handle them gently…who knows how long they’ll last? Vinyl wears down every time you use it.

  119. Rhinojack says:

    My only issue with CDs is the printed material within. Seeds of Love box is a good example. Perhaps it is my age (63) but I simply cannot read it without a magnifying glass or “reader” glasses. So, being a hassle, I don’t bother. A 12 in album is a different matter. it has always been a medium that you can pour over time and again. With this being said however I still buy both CD’s and albums with no real reason over each one as to why. Deluxe editions with a lot of filler that I’m not particularly interested in will sway me towards vinyl. Good sound and no clicks and pops will guide me toward CDs with SACDs a given over vinyl.

    • Andrea says:

      At 54 I have same issue, especially tracklist and credits are almost unreadable. While I greatly appreciated the insight story of the album (and yes, 4 years for 8 tracks, that’s beyond perfectionism, maybe their creativity was drying quickly), tracks details are really difficult to read. The only flaw of an almost perfect reissue!

  120. Sean O'Brien says:

    In 1981, Tom Petty fought MCA to keep the price of his Hard Promises record @ $8.98. He said if he didn’t fight, “records would cost $20 one day”. The time has come with limited edition, 180g vinyl that sounds no better than the crackling, skipping, warping records of my youth. If sound quality was truly EC’s issues, there would be no EC on streaming services. CD’s margins are smaller compared to vinyl, which accounts for the shift in marketing preference and EC’s self interest. It’s almost comical the number of times he has reissued his catalog. The record industry and artists have alienated music buyers with their greed (inflated product margins, huge prices on concert tickets, big advances, ostentatious lifestyles, etc) which contributed to the public seeing less worth in what is being produced and are satisfied with compressed quality music @ $10 a month. Record companies will continue to be arms of larger corporations whose sole interest is profit so there is little chance of change without artists engagement and action.
    It would be meaningful to see artists work with smaller labels as we’ve seen long term success from labels such as Merge, Sub Pop, Matador, etc. There have been numerous self releasing artists, as far back as Aimee Mann who by doing this, guaranteed a larger share of revenue from their work. Working together to lobby and legislate a faired profit sharing from physical sales and streaming would in the long term benefit everyone. Don Henley as been trying this for years but commented in an interview about musicians “low attention span for business” and likens his effort to “herding cats”. Artists need to actively participate in their future and larger artists like EC need to engage to help younger artists have a future. Consumers also need to express their will and not allow large corporations to manipulate their musical wants.

  121. John Archbell says:

    Well, I tend to agree with Mr Costello.

    Not that I think CD is inferior to vinyl, in any way, shape or form. I just prefer to pull a record from its sleeve. There’s a ritual about it – I take care of my vinyl and enjoy the artwork and illustrations in a way that I just don’t appreciate on a standard CD booklet. Some of my CD collection contains booklets that are so thick that it’s near on impossible to pull them out of those 4 grooves in the plastic without tearing the edges of the book.

    I prefer to slide out the inner sleeve and actually be able to read the text of the linear notes without squinting and using my finger as a pointer like I do with CD’s. Having said that and so that readers understand my point, I tend to buy vinyl remasters of music that I love, and equally enjoy ‘taking in’ classic album artwork. For example early Oasis albums or something from the 80’s (my era) like Tears For Fears ‘Sowing the Seeds of Love’. I mean you just cannot replicate that kind of beauty on a standard CD booklet. Of course there are better examples, but I used TFF as it’s current and newsworthy.

    I collect both formats but I also stream. If there’s a CD boxset that is larger in diameter and there are some extras thrown in then I’ll buy. For example the ‘Gimme Some Truth’ CD / Blu-ray boxset that recently graced Super Deluxe Edition’s page. The gorgeous hardback book wasn’t available with the vinyl equivalent. Being a keen Lennon listener, I wanted something concise but not the whole story – so this was ideal! I’m also a big fan of mixes, something that is hard to include on vinyl if you consider the album itself takes precedence. Simple Minds are great at doing that – it’s called knowing your market. Then there are DVD’s and 5.1 surround – how do you get that pressed on vinyl?

    There’s an array of reasons on why to choose vinyl over CD and vice versa, but for me I err on the side of vinyl, just for the pure pleasure of watching my reflection.

    As the great Gary Numan song goes ‘Here in the Black…’

    As for ‘Armed Forces’, it’s too rich for me. I’m not that massive of a fan to be able to justify spending that kind of money – it does look comprehensive enough though!

  122. MCK says:

    No CD no sale unfortunately for me. Perhaps he should have taken a stand in the 90s against the CD, but I guess he was too busy with the royalty checks when the CD was selling like hot cupcakes (and even now CD is outselling vinyl).

  123. -SG- says:

    It is all about control. The industry would like nothing more than to rid itself of all physical media. It is all about the inevitable streaming model, the rights holders can get a cut anytime you play a song, forever. Physical media means you have a product that has value, which is an anomaly. No pesky alternate mix the artist hates, anything can be censored at any moment. Vinyl is a compromise because it degrades and is inevitably inconvenient, so you still need digital to lusten to Elvis in the car. Plus, most of this is digital anyway, so the upper digital hand is still to the industry, no lending, no piracy, atleast from a model perspective. I actually think it will eventually backfire because without any kind of object, or cultural artifact, the ephemeral nature renders it all somewhat irrelivant over time.

    • wesmont says:

      You are so right SG. All of these people who dump their CDs for “streaming versions” of albums are insane. At some point, the record and movie industry folks are going to only lend you things, and that way you can pay for them over and over again. The CD version of an album would pretty much last forever as does a DVD.

      • Ryk says:


        I am increasingly finding more and more cases of CD rot in my collection, so in my experience some of them do not last forever – more like about 15-30 years.

        • Tonk says:

          Ooh, that’s contentious – bought my first cds in 1985 – looked after them, and they’re still fine. Albeit they were Japanese pressings, but even my UK and German pressings from around the same time are fine too – how things are stored plays a large part in these things. Overexposure to too much UV, damp etc etc.
          Spent my whole working life selling cds and have never encountered a customer with ‘rot’.

    • Prince Fan says:

      I doubt piracy is even a consideration now and hasn’t been for some time. I also doubt that the industry wants to rid itself of all physical media. They’ll make a lot more money out of an Elvis Costello fan who buys a £200 vinyl box set than an Elvis Costello fan who streams the same box set. A hell of a lot more.

      • Greg Sinclair says:

        I’m pretty sure the music industry love the idea of selling something they don’t have to physically make or ship or warehouse or any other thing you might associate with a physical product. Imagine how stoked McDonald’s would be if they could send out some kind of electronic pulse giving you the satisfaction of a burger and fries, and charge you for it.

      • -SG- says:

        Piracy is not really the same issue anymore due to streaming and successful phasing out the CD which can easily be replicated and do not wear out easily (yes, PDO CD’s rot, and Warner Brothers DVD’s till about 2006 had issues as well). The big push of the industry towards vinyl has gradually altered the perception of younger buyers that vinyl is better, and CD is inherently inferior and uncool, and for the industry it is better, vinyl is much more expensive and will eventually wear out, most people will not lend out their records etc, I love vinyl, and never stopped buying records in the 90’s but on a basic level the whole “vinyl is better” push is a real expensive con most of the time. If it were about fidelity there would have been more of a push towards compatible hi-fi digital and not a push towards colored vinyl reissues stuffed in paper sleeves. But yes, I actually agree in some respect, overpriced vinyl sets like this will still exist as long as there is enough people who will pay for it. If product is exclusive and sold directly from the artist or label they can set the price as well and limit distribution issues. Mega sets we see here will be rolled out in limited quantities, and will sell quickly to collectors like the Depeche Mode MODE box, or that recent empty David Bowie box. Most people can’t be bothered by physical media or deluxe editions anyway, many people couldn’t care less about alternate versions, I do think that basic editions on CD of albums will become more scarce.
        It is all about money.
        I guess the bottom line is Costello will make much more from a $200 vinyl exclusive set than if this were more available for $25-$40 as a 3 CD set, and for that reason I can understand his renewed love of vinyl. The exclusive material contained in this box would only appeal to a real hardcore Costello fan anyway, and as such, the set, if limited enough, may be priced accordingly in a collectible format which will likely be played once or twice if ever.

  124. Fogarrach says:

    My prediction:
    in six months time elvis Costello will release a cd version of armed forces super deluxe edition. It will sell significantly higher numbers that the vinyl and in doing so will earn the artist more money that the much niche vinyl market.

    My opinion
    the current sde format, with extra tracks and experimental outtakes lends itself better to cd than to vinyl. I hardly ever put my smile vinyls on, I often put my smile sessions cds on.

  125. Jeff D says:

    He’s absolutely right about the quality but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t release this on CD. Another missed opportunity.

    • Stuart Munro says:

      Actually, he couldn’t be more wrong in regards to sonic quality, for reasons such as those mentioned by Mark R a few comments below yours.

  126. Dennis says:

    Vinyl is killing off my new Elvis Costello collection and it’s is legal.
    Good for my wallet, so that will mean i am never buying EC ever again. Get Happy!!

  127. Mark R says:

    He’s utterly wrong, by the way. CD’s have a far wider dynamic range and storage for their size with double the storage capacity for less than 25% of the size. He’s more interested in justifying overly expensive box sets marketed to the nostalgia market than trying to sell more affordable options. Not all of us have £200 to spend on £70 of vinyl in a vast box that probably adds – in space alone – £200 to my mortgage payments over the next 25 years! Vinyl boxes are big, heavy, fragile, and expensive. But they have higher profit margins, so cough up suckers!

  128. Neil M says:

    Pretty sure Mr C is confusing the medium with what’s actually on it.

    CD is a pretty great medium, it does all those things that vinyl can’t – like perfect repeat play every time with degradation (of either the piece of vinyl itself or your stylus).

    What actually gets put on the CD generally deteriorated in quality through the decades. Gone was the need to use your volume control, we can just master everything to make it permanently loud for you.

    I’d suggest Mr C speaks to someone in mastering to see if they can put his work onto a CD that sounds great again. But you’d have a hard time convincing an old cynic like me that it isn’t already brickwalled to death by the time they are finished.

    CD was great once, could be great again. But no one is listening, the damage is done and the confidence to buy new CD’s has gone.

  129. Marc K. says:

    I am a big vinyl lover. Always have been, always will be, but what is happening lately is worrying.
    The prices for vinyl releases are going up and up! Especially for the big boxsets.
    I’ve decided not to join the race. Although I would really like to have these, I skipped on:
    – TomPetty Wildflowers 7LP – Lennon Gimme Me Some Truth 4LP – U2 – 11 vinyl disc and also will pass on this Costello vinyl set. It is all too bloody expensive!!!!
    I buy nice re-issues on 1 or 2 LP and hope to find all the extra’s as a download somewhere., or on cd.
    For instance the new Peter Gabriel Live releases come with high res downloads and the vinyls are good value. I really hope the record industry will see the light and stop this development.
    There is a good place for both vinyl and cd. All within reason.

  130. MFG says:

    Compact Discs are just fine as a medium for playback and storage, if they are well-mastered and packaged with care for the music listener. Unfortunately, the major record labels mostly did no such thing, thanks to high prices and shoddy packaging when first introduced in the ’80s, and later for the massive increase in mastering compression (aka the Loudness Wars) starting in the late ’90s and the ’00s (still a problem in 2020).

    I think a better solution to EC’s concerns about CDs is to release DVDs or Blu-Ray discs with hi-resolution audio content, mastered for good dynamic range and not for loudness. A vinyl-only policy shuts out a fair number of hardcore fans who want to hold optical discs in their hands, and not just rely on vinyl + download files.

    Personally, I would love to own an optical disc with high-resolution audio for each of my favorite albums (numbering in the hundreds, of course). But this is unlikely to happen except for the most popular and far-sighted artists. So I will stick with CDs when no hi-res audio disc is available.

  131. Don says:

    Elvis’s comments get a big LOL. If he’s concerned about 12×12 artwork, someone should tell him that dozens of CD box sets have been released in recent years in a 12×12 format… Achtung Baby, Joshua Tree, Sign O’ The Times, etc. Geez.

  132. Stuart says:

    It seems to be a bit of a contradictory stance from EC, as my reading of his comment, particularly the bit about income, seems to be at the root of his distaste for CDs.

    However he is cutting off his nose to spite his face a bit, as I would have bought the Armed Forces set on CD but have no interest in vinyl, so no sale from me (and others I guess) therefore ironically the lack of a CD option harms his income stream which ‘won’t be paying the artist…at all’

    Obviously he’s entitled to his opinion, being closer to the industry than we are, but I can’t help but feel that his reasoning for disliking the CD is flawed.

  133. Kevin O says:

    Ol’ EC has got it backwards, I’m afraid. As a storage medium, the CD is demonstrably *superior*, the reason being that the sound quality is for the most part unaffected by the condition of the disc. Deep scratches aside, a CD with scratches or fingerprints on the playing surface will play with no loss of sound quality. And the CD itself will not color the sound.

    The vinyl record, on the other hand, *will* be affected by scratches and fingerprints on the playing surface. Furthermore, the quality of the vinyl, the thickness of the disc, and whether or not the disc is flat can all affect the sound quality. And there will be some surface noise regardless.

    Perhaps most important: a CD will sound the same on its 88th play as it did on its first. Vinyl, on the other hand, will degrade over time, with increased surface noise, and the addition of a few pops and clicks (depending on how well the owner has cared for the disc).

    (And don’t get me started on the RIAA curve.)

    Where he’s got it right is mastering practices. Because of the overuse of brickwalling, the vinyl edition of a given release nowadays will likely have greater dynamic range than the CD—a format whose superior dynamic range was once touted as one of its benefits.

    He is also right about the packaging—but plenty of other box sets have demonstrated that CDs do not necessarily have to be sold in compact boxes with shrunken graphics and hard-to-read text.

  134. Ian Stewart says:

    Looks like ‘Hey Clockface’ will sadly be my last investment in Elvis Costello, I’ve never played my vinyl for years replacing most of it in CD format and if he wants to alienate a large part of his fan base he can get on with it, I certainly won’t be shelling out for reissues in vinyl format which I’ll never play, ironically he hasn’t done any work comparable to his earlier work for years, so I always looked forward to the reissues

  135. Otto says:

    I have both a CD played and a record player, I can also stream music.
    Streaming music is for music I want to snack, it’s free and worthless in regards of having a connection with that artist or music.
    The record album is the gold standard. The package, art, how it feels and handels, it’s like making love to the medium. Delicate handeling it and enjoying the moment. I need to do something to get involved and I love that. No shuffle option here but the whole 9 yards.
    I buy CD’s for convenience (have have arthritis and handeling the expended Sign o’ the Times edition from Prince is there for the “good days”. Also the fact that some of the content just isn’t in album form (like Purple Rain or the Further Listening CD’s of the Pet Shop Boys) and that bothers me but it is what it is.
    I can hear the deference between Spotify and the physical media but I have a hard time hearing the difference between CD and LP, but the feel of the media is wildly different.

  136. Nathan Dodd says:

    I could never stand Elvis Costello or his music, however, like the rest of us he is entitled to his opinion even though it appears to be motivated by money and greed.

    Long live the CD!

  137. Calum McGregor says:

    Let folk have their choice …

    I still have a lot of vinyl (which I rarely – if ever – play). Way too much “faff” by the time you get rid of the dust and cue it up, take the fluff off the needle … and then get totally frustrated by the pops, crackles, potential to scratch, warp, motor noise and the like – I have a rega planar 2 deck … but it’s all just a pain … and turning LP’s over …. man – way too much work ….

    CDs “work” for me because of all of the above issues … and “life” just gets in the way of sitting down for a “proper” listening experience …. and I listen to a ton of music as I drop off to sleep with digital player soothing me ….

    …. and I like buying deluxe sets – specifically for “the package” experience … recent acquisitions include Kansas Deluxe art-book versions (lovely), Be Bop Deluxe box sets (x3 all fabulous) , every Steve Hackett box set on CD (signed – all great packages), Marillion, Fish – Weltschmertz (amazing deluxe set for a fabulous album), Chris Rea, etc. etc. The CD package can / does work …. and I’m still old school enough to rip my CDs to Wav / FLAC for portability on digital players / phones …. [p.s. Fish is frustrated that there has been so much damage to LPs being sent out that he’s run out of the replacement sleeves to send out for the LP version … no such issues with the deluxe CD set]

    Spotify et al are great for letting you check out to see if it’s worth buying the album … and then I would always go for CD deluxe (e.g. new 4 CD set of Wildflowers is great value at £35 or thereby … with a good package as well).

    Mr Costello is entitled to his opinion … as am I …. very happy with the fact that 30 years in (except for a wee handful of bronzed CDs from the PDO plant at Swindon – separate story), I can put on, for example, Neil Young’s Freeddom CD – pump up the volume – and enjoy the music as if it came out yesterday …. no pops, no crackles, no hassle …. perfect

    p.s. and I remember when Armed Forces came out there was a ton of noise about the crap quality control of the original release !!

  138. hedley says:

    Thanks Elvis

    Original vinyl with fold out flaps and Hollywood High 45 > Original CD > 2/1 2 years with bonus Ryko discs (Demon) > the El Mocambo disc with the idiot screaming same as the bootleg > Rhino Double disc.

    Oooohhh… a great big new boxset of Armed Forces, I’m a sucker for a box set and especially Elvis Costello wonder what I have already…..hang on a sec, its vinyl, no reason to check.

    Anecdotally Elvis Costello gave us back stage passes when his tour with Emmylou Harris came through Detroit and I spent about an hour chatting with him. We had a good laugh about our days as bank clerks and he could not have been more down to earth and friendly.

  139. eric says:

    I still buy things on CD only because they are not available on vinyl. Otherwise, I agree with him.

  140. Glen says:

    Here in Canada CD sales have declined 38% in the first half of 2020 but the same is true for vinyl which has declined 26% over 2019. Record stores blame the decrease of vinyl on the prices record companies are charging (twice the price of a CD). The bubble has burst at least on this side of the Atlantic,
    I don’t own a record player nor wish to have one. It’s all CDs for me.
    Costello not putting out a CD version of this box set is just short sighted & stupid.

  141. sergio falcone says:

    I prefer his “clean” of the cd to that of the vinyl. No one will ever get me back.

    • Uwe says:

      I feel you, Sergio.

      Let me take you back to early 1986. I’m buying Prince’s *Parade* album in its week of release on vinyl, because I don’t own a CD player, yet. At this point I had exclusively been listening to vinyl all my life and, thus, am not too upset about its shortcomings.

      That being said … — we enter the last song of that LP: Sometimes It Snows in April. There’s crackle. The LP is brand new and dusted off. That particular song! And that crackle! Two things that just won’t be working out together. So I get back to the store, explain my pain and they give me another copy of *Parade*.

      Back home: Last song, different crackle. That very same year I bought my first CD player.

  142. Michael Roberts says:

    My massive CD collection and current CD reissue buying habits would politely disagree with Mr. Costello.

    Someone needs to make sure he sees this posting and all these comments as well.

  143. Prince Fan says:

    I think the industry needs to be careful. Killing off the CD could drive a lot of music buyers towards streaming platforms, not rushing out to buy turntables and spending £££ on vinyl every year. Amazon, Deezer, Qobuz and Tidal all offer CD quality (or above in some cases) music.

  144. Wim Hendriks says:

    Cd’s will vanish but not because of vinyl’s superiority but because of streaming. The reason cd’s got a lousy rep. was because it took manufacturers of cd players about ten years to produce something half decent.

    • Scott says:

      CD will not vanish anytime soon. My label is not even 3 years old and a number of the titles I’ve reissued on CD keep selling out and I keep having to have more pressed up. I’m selling thousands of copies of CD’s that didn’t sell near a million on initial release, and I’ve got more lined up for release soon. I’ve received a lot of emails from happy buyers thrilled that I’m one of those not only focusing on early 80’s New Wave, but also keeping CD alive. For those who say you can (possibly) get similar sound quality online, they are disregarding that for some of us it’s more than just the music. We enjoy a nice packages, whether it’s a big piece of vinyl at great risk for the smallest mishap damaging it, or a well mastered CD with well produced artwork. The whole ‘CD is nothing more than a delivery medium’ statement from some people is completely missing the point/fun of collecting and appreciating the object as well.

      • David Cornyn says:

        What your label, out of interest?

      • Wayne K says:

        What Scott said. I love his reissues by the way. He does them right-well mastered with no compression or weird EQ choices. He just enhances the music.

        I remember when EC attacked his own label for the overpriced Spectacular Songbook album box. It was horribly mastered. Give me a well mastered Cd in nice packaging without the issues of poor vinyl pressings or crackling vinyl. Don’t get me wrong there are attractions for vinyl but so many things can go wrong from the time it is mastered manufactured and gets into your hot little hands. Less headache, good sound and a wider dynamic range

        EC is just after the $$$ which I find sad. I can elect not to buy it. He doesn’t like the format? Let him try 8 track or cassette

    • Kevin O says:

      And record companies didn’t always use the original (or best available) master tape.

      And it took mastering engineers a few years to adapt to mastering for the digital format.

      And it took manufacturing plants a while to deal with the quality-control issues involved in pressing CDs with longer playing times.

  145. Rare Glam says:

    I admire Costello’s work and I will be buying his new album on CD and indeed got his last one as a double CD! His whole critique reads exactly like what the music industry were saying about vinyl when CD took off. It just reads like an industry concocted stab at a medium that won’t die when it’s expected to. It is funny that he seems to laud streaming but condemns CDs. Surely it was the downloading / streaming culture that was the threat to an artist’s income stream (step forward Spotify) not the CD. Given the C19 shutdown, most artists’s income streams are being decimated when they earn more for live appearances anyway than any recordings. I think any medium that affords a revenue from it should be aplauded rather than attacked. I, like others here do feel that CDs will have their time again. If C90 casette tapes can do it CD cerainly will do, though of course, it’s far from a dead medium yet, which I think is what Mr C’s comments were aimed to encourage.

  146. Tony says:

    I can see EC’s point, but surely let the punter decide.

  147. Martyn Alner says:

    Quite funny, because I recall (someone may have already said this) that we all complained that the Yazoo Box Set wasn’t CD and they added that. So someone is still buying CDs, and certainly Supermarkets are still selling CD (basic chart and a lot of compilations).

    I like CD, Vinyl and Cassette (still got quite a lot of Cassettes, where there were extra track (al la Thompson Twins Into the Gap).

    The fight back for CD starts here! :)

  148. Fortyfabio says:

    So, someone have this shop where he sells coffee and energy drinks.
    Energy drinks are more expensive but the numbers are on the rise , coffee sells ten times but is cheaper so the margins are lower, still it’s almost half of the profits for the shop.

    Then he decides to stop selling coffee altogether for the above “reasons” and think that it will motivate coffee consumers to drink more energy drinks because it’s “better” and no one should drink coffee anymore.

    This is very stupid business.

  149. Alan says:

    Money money money….

    Ooops sorry that’s ABBA!

    Can’t wait until CD inevitably becomes what vinyl has…

    Personally I think CD on good system has better sound but each to their own!

  150. Daniel Pitterman says:

    God between Paul McCartney and downloads only Bering the future and now Costello saying no to CDs, I am sick to death of these artists pushing their agendas. Let’s not forget Neil Young who limits his Archives to 3000. What the hell is going on!
    I don’t have a turntable and I don’t want one. I do want the music from Armed Forces. I would have bought it if it was on CD. Now I guess I’ll just stream it unless Costello thinks that is passé as well. Then no again maybe I’ll just listen to the last reissue and forget about the whole thing.

  151. gary oliver says:

    ironically the first CD I ever got was Costello’s ” get happy ! ”

    CDs were a tenner 30 years ago, and a tenner now

  152. Declan McManus says:

    It’s all a scam, in 6 months time a CD version will be released.

    If Neil Young can offer his-res download for his £200+ archive set, surely EC can do the same. At least that’ll keep those who want to listen to the albums on the go happy. Best of both worlds!

    I know vinyl has a warmth to music recorded in analogue, it’s the pops and crackles that gets to me. Some people love the crackles so each to their own.

    Does anyone know the manufacturing costs of a CD compared to vinyl, I thought it costs peanuts to burn a CD.

    • Kevin O says:

      CDs were initially more expensive to produce, but costs came down as the format became more established, to the point where they were about the same as for vinyl.

      These days, vinyl is undoubtedly more expensive. Higher-quality vinyl is more regularly used (pressing cycles are still about 30 seconds per copy, though); the pressing machines are largely old and more expensive to maintain, requiring custom parts when something has to be replaced; greater attention is being paid to packaging, which adds to the cost; and manufacturing runs are smaller.

  153. Dean W says:

    This is a great post and the comments are all spot on. I wanted to add a little point – the music industry can’t afford to kill off the CD yet. Vinyl does sound wonderful and the artwork is much better, but CD is still the easiest way to get a digital copy of your music, plus you can put that wherever you choose.

    I jumped on the CD collecting bandwagon in 1988, so I’ve got thousands of them stored. What always annoyed me was observing how technology advanced, and yet the lowly 16bit CD never got an upgrade that didn’t include lousy DRM, limiting it to a proprietary format. Why we couldn’t have 24bit 48khz CD’s written in the same way but on a blu-ray sized disk is, in hindsight, a huge marketing failure. Perhaps someone will realise this opportunity now that Hi-Res downloads are gaining popularity, and finally give the customers what they actually want and can still be played in a CD-player (i.e. in Hi-Res on a second layer in FLAC).

    Yes I’ll still buy vinyl for albums I think would benefit from the higher quality audio. But with my chronic backache, anything that requires me getting up to change sides more than once per album is a dealbreaker. 45rpm, forget it. My Rega will remain fixed at 33rpm permanently. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one in this boat, and since we’re Elvis’ main demographic market, he should be happy with the current status quo.

  154. I collect both but will say I’ve been preferring CD reissues lately. Smaller size, cheaper and usually more content. CDs are truer to the original master, especially when the original master was digital to begin with. Once a recording has been transferred to vinyl, it sounds different and the added clicks, pops, surface noise and wow and flutter all add to that. Sure, many prefer the sound of vinyl but I don’t think it’s necessarily “better” especially when it comes to bass response and airy highs without sounding sibilant.

  155. Sean Hewitt says:

    Just one point: people keep asking why the live performances in the Armed Forces set are incomplete. Isn’t that because they’ve had to squeeze them on to vinyl?

  156. Scott W says:

    I’m sure others will have said it by now, but really, this is absurdly rich coming from maybe the most egregious over-retailer of his legacy. I can’t think of any other artist who has married such a prolific catalog to such profligate reissue campaigns, three and counting (right?). Bonus: that the MFSL vinyls are nothing special. So now I can’t think of an artist who was so high on my list who I’m now perfectly comfortable just streaming.

    • noyoucmon says:

      Scott W: Speaking of the MFSL Costellos, I thought some of them were very nice, but Almost Blue sounds dreadful on its MFSL pressing, like he had Dr. Dre come in and add heavy bass to the whole thing.

  157. Ricardo Sardo says:

    I really don’t understand Elvis Costello comment’s about CD format, because it is technically far superior than LP (soundwise, because of the “loudness wars” of mid 90’s, music in LP sounds generally better, despite the higher dynamic range of the CD), and has manny advantages. We should blame artists and record engineers, because they contribute to the bad recordings, with lots of compression, that soun horrible. In Japan, they really take very good care of the format (CD or SACD) and the market there is really strong.

    CD is as valid, as a format, as vinil and I do think that having few money to spend, I would go for an hi-fi system based on digital formats, because it sounds much better than a similar one based on analogue.
    At home, I would had to spend many thousands of euros if I wanted an analogue system able to compete with my digitally based system.
    There are consumers, like myself, that won’t be buying this boxset because it’s vinil. Freedom of choice, mr. Costello. You lose.

    • Dave Bain says:

      I feel Mr Costello is being a tad disingenuous here. The reality is that vinyl albums sell at much higher prices than they do on CD. This is about profit. When CDs cost more than vinyl albums back in the 1980s, they were the format that record companies encouraged us to buy, usually by adding a track or two which were exclusive to that format. Costello has released much of his catalogue several times over. Being a bit of a fanatic I have bought ‘armed forces’ (and many other Costello albums). Firstly on vinyl, then CD, Then on an enhanced CD, then as part of a box set and eventually as a 2 CD set. I won’t be buying it again, especially not at the eye watering prices being aske for this vinyl box set.

  158. Mike t says:

    As a person who has way more vinyl than cd…this is pure rubbish. I have both formats of the same albums and there’s no doubt that some sound better on cd and vice versa. Thank you very much Elvis has left the building …

  159. Jürgen says:

    I‘m back to vinyl since a few years, and decreasing buying cd‘s more and more, just super deluxe editions I‘ll get. But I‘ll switch from cd to digital downloads, cause there is no advantage on cd. Beside I‘ll collect mainly LP‘s when available.
    I was blinded by format and handling of cd, but I was never totally convinced. Internet changed everything, so Cd and blu-ray will dying, my opinion.

  160. Paul Hannon says:

    Afraid regardless whether this is on vinyl or CD it doesn’t add much to what is out there and readily available. When it was muted I had expectations of writing demos or similar, instead it’s mostly multiple live sets, one of which is easily available in a more complete state on CD and b-sides etc. I’ll stick with the copies of Armed Forces I’ve already got.

  161. mattNYC says:

    Pure coincidence that the margin on vinyl is higher. Sure, Jan.

  162. Tim Waite says:

    What did George Harrison say about Elvis Costello ? Something like he thinks the flow of ‘Get Happy ‘ is wslightly lost due to the positioning of ‘Motel Matches ‘ or something like that ?

  163. Wayne C says:

    Very interesting comments on both sides of the discussion, I personally have always thought vinyl sounds better than cd but only if pressed with care and packaged correctly!. But you also have to use a turntable of sufficient quality to notice the sonic improvements , at the lower price points -£100 you can’t get a quality of sound from vinyl playback which you can get you from a £100 compact disc player.
    I wonder what the profit margin on vinyl is?, I would expect that it is quite a mark up on box sets like this in comparison to a similar cd set?. I don’t agree with EC about cd being antiquated or having its day. If all music was recorded in analogue as it used to be maybe vinyl would be better every time. With digital recordings I don’t think you can say the cd is old hat, especially with the quality of my recent vinyl purchases. My last three box sets of vinyl have had pops and clicks which lowers the experience of listening. If things were like the old days regarding vinyl with superb pressings and excellent quality control maybe EC would have a point but I don’t think it’s that clear cut.

  164. Dubsideofthemoon says:

    I work in a french media group and we have a music service (interviews, live in studio filmed for national tv broadcast …) that do not listen to cds they receive from artists who are famous or not ! My collegues work with audio/video links and VINYLS…

  165. Luke says:

    If the mastering job is well done, CD’s are always better soundwise plus you have more storage. There’s no real discussion about that. The only point people can make is about the bigger sleeve/artwork (nice when your eyes got bad) etc. But I’m a soundbuff more than a graphics buff, so I always go for the music, and that’s what really counts here.

    • Mark S says:

      Yes but the point here is that the mastering on CD is typically worse than the vinyl so the poorer CD master can often more than off-set the superior medium (CD) meaning if you have equal quality playback the vinyl sounds better

  166. Beechlander says:

    Had a feeling this would trigger a lot of comments when I saw the headline..

    For what it’s worth I actually bought a record player and CD player this year (hadn’t used either since about 1996, instead using a PC to play/rip CDs) as I’m enjoying rebuilding my collection after discarding a lot over the years in a bid to save space. I still use my phone that holds thousands of MP3s for convenience/travel but in terms of CD/vinyl sets I feel there’s room for both in today’s market.

    Strange that EC hasn’t seen fit to also release something in a CD boxset for £50-odd as that would ultimately sell more but he has his opinion on the formats and if pushed I favour vinyl too. I love the experience of taking in an LP – the feel/look/artwork and (for me) the quality of sound especially some of the new represses of classic albums.

  167. Mark says:

    In ten year’s time CDs will be the new vinyl.

  168. Mark H. says:

    Despite its initially better sound (maybe), vinyl is an inherently inferior medium, if only because the sound degrades every time the album is played. CDs have no such limitation.

    I was around when vinyl had its first run. Most rock albums were indifferently mastered, made with low quality vinyl, and had a huge number of out-of-the-sleeve clicks and pops. If this were not so, why did Mobile Fidelity have a market, not to mention the numerous “half speed mastered” labels?

    Now we are paying Mo-Fi prices for almost all vinyl – generally twice the price of the corresponding CD (in the beginning. CDs were almost twice the price of vinyl).

    If you follow the money, an artist like Costello will make a huge amount more per vinyl package than a CD package. That’s what I think is behind his denigration of CDs.

    • Dave Bain says:

      I can remember back in the early 1980s, CDs were selling for around £12 each (and twice that for double CDs) whilst the vinyl version of the album could be bought for around £7. Record companies at the time were pushing CD sales rather than vinyl, by waxing lyrical about their superiority over vinyl. The CD version would often contain one or more extra tracks in order to (a) entice the buyer and (b) justify the substantial extra cost. It was all about maximising profit. Almost 40 years on the the price differential between the two formats is reversed but it is still all about maximising profit. The argument around which is the superior medium is a smokescreen. This box set is being released on vinyl only because that’s where the biggest profit is to be made. My guess is that once the Costello fanatics with deep enough pockets have shelled out big bucks for this box, and sales start to drop off, we will see a CD version of this set hit the shops.

  169. Matt R says:

    I like to listen to music in the car. Turntables aren’t massively convenient for that…

    There are other points as well.
    I can accept that he won’ts ell a massive number of CDs and that the price would be difficult to achieve. However why not release it as 24 Bit FLACs/WAV? That way you get the sound quality but don’t have the manufacturing cost. I’m sure it could be sold for less than the LP set while making as much per unit.

    There are very few LPs where i would be comfortable paying that much for an extended edition. I like Armed Forces (I’ve got the Rhino & Demon editions).I be a prime market for a reasonably priced edition, but £200+ is an enormous amount.

    I’m sure it is an enormous set as well. Great if you live in a rock star mansion, but I have to think about the space it will take up. Especially as I’m not likely to play an 8LP set very often.

  170. Jeff says:

    I fear this is a marketing own goal. There are many of us that love vinyl, but at over £200 per box set, the price tag is unjustifiable and unaffordable. Release it for the vinyl junkies by all means, but many more people would invest in a CD version than a vinyl version, so if it IS about artists getting the maximum return on their investment, then it seems to be misdirected.

  171. andrew r says:

    Cock up cockface . Frankly I love EC and have dmfollowed him for years but this smacks of “ I want 200 for the box set so no cd “ rather than any fidelity issues . Lately he seems to want money more than in the past . Bad licensing deals previously maybe ?

  172. Fredpstman says:

    You have lost yourself a sale Elvis because of no cd version.

  173. DeepMan says:

    I belong to those, who collect LPs, but listen to CDs
    Generally CDs work better for box sets and 2- or 3-CD live sets. Still original vinyl has its strange appeal, but re-releases with photocopied and unsharp sleeves are real bummers…

  174. Prince Fan says:

    He mentions money before quality so, I except, that’s the motivation here. If he released it on CD and vinyl, then there’s a good chance that plenty of people who normally prefer vinyl would opt for the CD if it was retailing at half the price of the vinyl edition.

  175. StanC says:

    So, a 54 year-old man writing here… It has been just surreal, over my four decades as an obsessive music fan, watching as the music industry (and, in this case, an artist) have made every wrong turn imaginable, in both times good and bad, and endlessly alienating the consumer.

    For a decade-and-change of my life, 1988-2003, I spent it managing an independent music shop (which was, get this, a compact disc ONLY affair) and most of that time was spent trying to deal with the record companies endlessly pushing up the list prices, while simultaneously doing their best to squeeze our margins down to absolutely nothing. I can still remember reading an article in Billboard –this must have been around 2000– where the labels were passionately pleading that the list price of new releases MUST be $21.98, or they simply couldn’t make it, financially. Is it ANY wonder why, the nanosecond when Napster came into existence, that the consumers began Hoovering everything up for free?

    I still have a handful of fellow geezers in my life who continue to love and seek out new music, here in our 50s, and, to be fair, most of them had a time where they fell back in love with the experience of buying and engaging with vinyl. But, for all of them, without exception, that initial bliss of nostalgia was quickly replaced with the same practicalities that nudged us all towards compact discs in the first place.

    The fact that compact disc sales, diminished as they may be, are still SIGNIFICANTLY higher than vinyl, and that folks like Elvis are cheering the compact disc format’s death? Yes, the illogic is maddening, but it’s so on-brand for the music industry as an entity.

    So, take THAT, Elvis… I will not be purchasing your damned catalog for a fourth time/lol.

  176. Brad B. says:

    “click, pop”…”click, pop”…”click, pop”…Sounds like making deals with one of the Big 3 has warped your perspective into being unconcerned that your fans have a choice, Declan…”click, pop”…”click, pop”…”click, pop”…

  177. Paul says:

    I think what’s actually on this set would be much better suited to a small CD set. I love big 12” vinyl sets like the new Prince one with 13 LP’s including 1 live album but mixing up
    Various live albums on 12”, 10” and 7” is just annoying… I’ll stream it.

  178. StevieT says:

    I have been buying vinyl since the mid sixties, and have gone through every format change. The first reviews of the cd format claimed you could drill a quarter inch hole in a disc and smear jam all over the surface and still be able to play the disc. Obviously pure hyperbole, and nonsense. But at the time I believed what I read, because I assumed somebody had actually tried this out. Nobody would argue about the far superior merits of vinyl artwork and packaging, I really hate the flimsy two page booklets in cds with no information, and also the 48 page booklets which you cannot get in and out of the cases. The best products to buy now, in my opinion, are cd boxsets where you get excellent sound quality and also large format artwork. I now mainly use a Denon cd micro system with Dali bookshelf speakers, and even with mono cds the whole room fills up with superb sounds. I am a huge Costello fan, but with this latest release he is coming across rather deluded. Some of the live content has now reverted to the same content as the single cd edition with bonus tracks, so I don’t see the point of this release at all.

  179. Andrea says:

    For sure nobody could disagree on the inferior package of standard CD’s vs. vinyl, but when you issue a Deluxe Edition you have no more constraint and play with the artwork as you wish. But the ripping argument is totally incorrect, today you can find every kind of rip of vinyl, tapes, CDs over the internet and personally I buy vinyl only if there’s a decent download code associated.
    I know car manufacturers are removing CD players options and memory sticks, iPhone connections are the new standard, still CD is my favorite medium to listen music, I’ll be really sad if it will be totally discontinued.
    But we know it won’t happen, everything comes back sooner or later, when CDs will be close to disappear they’ll be “vintage” again…
    It would be just nice if they could leave people to choose freely how to listen music, but marketing and business have their own rules!

  180. greg says:

    While I agree that relying on 1982 technology in 2020 seems odd, it’s even odder to go back to mid-1950’s technology. This entire box set could fit neatly on a single BluRay, 96/24, with much better sound quality than either vinyl or CD. And as for the packaging concerns, who says that you need to use standard jewel cases or digpaks. If you want the big 12″x12″ box with loads of extras at full-size, regardless of what audio format is inside, why not?

  181. DAVID LOCK says:

    I’ll just check iTunes later and see if I can pre-order from them. Gotta be cheaper than $300. Then I’ll out them on CD for myself.

  182. Paul M says:

    CD is a medium that has seen its day?

    Could have said exactly the same about vinyl in the late 80s/early 90s and look at it now. Give a music fan a choice of formats and they will buy them. Some people are even buying cassettes again!

    I suspect a majority of artists from the same era as Elvis Costello would say they prefer vinyl as that was how they grew up with music. So it becomes a cherished format of their youth with all the nostalgia that goes with it. The more people (esp. artists) that parrot this resurgence of vinyl as a fact of the demise of the CD (which it clearly isn’t) the more it will become self-fulfilling.

  183. Tim says:

    I bought my first music in Cambridge at Andy’s Records at the market place & The Beat Goes On (Also Andy’s) that had a very nice second hand department in the basement. I used to get a mixture of tatty, dog-eared vinyl and European (mostly Portuguese if memory serves me) poor quality issues.
    The thing I was always concerned with was the music. I remember getting the Armed Forces album with 7″ & loving the packaging but it was the songs I most loved. Whether I heard them on vinyl, bootlegs, my Philips Typ EL 3302 tape recorder or a tinny radio it was probably the most exciting time of my life for listening to music, the cheaper the better.
    What people like Elvis Costello and the Record Companies want is a preimium product eg. a vinyl album for £200+ and streaming & download sites. They want NO physical product so there is no second hand market or sales or sharing.
    I love a beautiful box set like the Bobbie Gentry but there was still things missing on it so I added them myself. My pleasure now is a mixture of second hand CDs, vinyl and adding from the internet to form my own special editions. So with a favourite album like “The Soft Bulletin” I I have the 5.1 release, the recent live CD, their own internet posted Companion and various bits and pieces like a Jools Holland performance of Superman (do look for it) in all over 100 songs related to just that album.
    This is a very enjoyable way of listening to music for me. It sates the collector in me, can be cheap and is the most comprehensive way of listening to everything. So with an iPad and portable speaker I am getting the same buzz I got when I was 16. We must treasure physical product while we still can because it will go and Declan MacManus will get his royalty cheque for streaming/downloads and we will be left with choosing from which website to buy from with no bargins and very strict conditions to play our inferior downloads on. Just like films when DVDs disappear.

  184. JasonC says:

    Ahhh, good old Elvis. Ornery, self-confident, and contradictory as usual. I’m a huge fan, and enjoy following him, but this is madness.

    I have all the 2CD Rhino sets (bar Kojak Variety) and they are/were exemplary for what they delivered. It is a huge shame that they are out of print.

    Critically, EC is one of the best. Just think of the company he keeps: McCartney, Dylan, Springsteen, all the big hitters. The memo EC never read was the one that told him he does not have a catalogue that sells in the vast numbers like the above trio. The fame:sales ratio for Elvis never really matched. This isn’t helped by what catalogue he’s had out there has been ignored for the last decade.

    What will happen next will be textbook EC. This new AF boxset will not sell, there will not be another one, and EC will blame someone else. He has form for this.

    The solution? Reissue the 2CD sets with a further 2CDs of a live show, throw in a DVD (although I dont think EC is a 5.1 man, he could put a HiRes on there, since he’s so passionate about good sound) and sell it for £30-40 with a book. (Think: Jethro Tull) The die hards will grumble but probably buy, the price could be good enough to draw in the newbies. Give a vinyl option, analogue sourced or Half-speed mastered or what not as an incentive.

    What he should *really* do though, if he wants some coin, is do a Crimson/Springsteen website for downloading live shows. His setlist changes every night, he’s mercurial live, he should have his last 20 years of gigs for sale by now. Fans would lap that up.

    • Steven Roberts says:

      Deluxe EC box sets a la Jethro Tull. Who wouldn’t want all of them for £30 quid a pop? (Except maybe the Kojak Variety, I’m with you on that!)

      Hell, I’d pay £40 if he threw in a lossless blu-ray rather than a DVD.

      But £200 quid for a vinyl boxed-set? He’s having a laugh, right?

      I think EC has been talking to Macca and seeing how much he can get away with charging….

  185. Andrew Mayo says:

    The effects of Covid restrictions have surely made a impact on most folks Bank Balances including myself ( so much for the Live Music Industry )
    Being a Big Fan of Elvis’s Music when once I would have treated myself at Christmas to Elvis’s amazing Box Set this year it’ll have to be Download only ,which is fine by me :)

  186. What? Costello? Worry? says:

    I love early EC, but looking now at the box set, after the intitial excitement has finally worn off aftet visions of oodles of vault tracks. Looking now at the box set the majority of it is live stuff and filled out paper fodder, which I know full well (and I assume others do as well) that it would either be played once or not at all. Would prefer more demo’s and work in progress for the main LP. £200 is a bit steep for a box of vinyl, and all this would all fit on 3CD for £30-40 even in a stylish 10″ or 12″ book with booklet (See Prince et al). Seriously Costello (God bless him) is a bit of a deluded twat for alienating most of his fans who won’t shell out for something that would just endup looking like a pretty bookend on the shelf with only 1 or 2 bits of vinyl actually worth playing. Gotta ask if this is a new 2020 remaster or just an earlier remaster cut to laquer.

  187. wardo says:

    I’ve had working turntables for 35 years. I still buy vinyl, but only used because new vinyl is just too expensive.

    I started out buying EC’s albums on cassette so i could listen to the on my Walkman while walking to and from school. I upgraded those to CD. Then I got all the Rykodisc reissues. And then I got all the Rhino reissues. When I Universal took over the catalog I picked up anything that offered something I didn’t already have.

    This then would be my fifth purchase of Armed Forces, if it didn’t cost more than the previous four combined. I’ll stream it, but I’d rather have a CD that can sit next to all its brothers.

  188. Nicholas Drain says:

    Really mystified that it looks like there’s not going to be a CD release of this. Have bought everything in the past. Easy choice really, I’ll download this set for nothing.

  189. Straker says:

    So CD is STILL six times more popular than Vinyl and yet gougers like Elvis pretend it’s about anything other than charging an arm and a leg for LPs ‘N Tat in a cardboard box.

    I guess all that time in La-La Land has addled his brain if he thinks we’ll swallow that spin wholesale.

  190. Alain BRENEZ says:

    Elvis Costello was my hero in the years of ‘Armed Forces’. I would buy that box set blindly if it wasn’t for the stupid high price. Maybe they won’t sell and we’ll find them at bargain prices soon. As to the fight between vinyl and CD, this is a sterile one. CD is not better than vinyl or the other way around, they’re just different. Trouble with CD’s is that they’ve become very common and some streaming services can offer the same sound quality. Vinyl is a different beast, better visual presentation, sometimes excellent dynamic pressings but at other times awful pressings as well. CD’s are more constant in quality. I think that both mediums can live alongside as long as the major record labels allow it. With vinyl sales revenues now higher than CD’s in several countries, there might only be a few years left before record labels stop making CD’s. I believe there will also be CD’s for sale, if only on artist web sites. Now Elvis, drop the price !!!

  191. David Olstein says:

    Just include a hi res download with the vinyl set. Problem solved.

  192. Laura says:

    Huh…extremely ironic Costello is so concerned about artwork not being appreciated properly considering the horrid images that grace his last releases.

    He’s just a greedy has been, look at the amount of tat he tries to sell with each new album. Socks? really? A clock? All that tat has seen its day too, people want music, not overpriced bundles full of garbage.

    I’m perfectly happy with my CDs, stopped collecting vinyl altogether and I couldn’t be happier I did. For instance, I ordered Ouvrez Le Chien and the box just on CD, had I also gotten the vinyl and the corresponding box the bill would have been sky high. I also ordered Metrobolist on CD and it will squeeze nicely into my shelf, I’m so glad I don’t have to worry about the random vinyl nightmare.

    Tin Machine II? I’ll pick up the re-issued CD at some point, I’m also free from the “what vinyl will I get? silver or green?” stress.

    With CDs you can go for either a cheap, standard edition or a gorgeous Japanese import and call it a day, with vinyl it seems nowadays you have to track down 10 color variants before you can catch a breath, and how long will people put up with that?

  193. fan says:

    “Of course, it’s unlikely that a CD box set of Armed Forces could retail for the £200+ being asked for the vinyl package, so there is that.”

    That’s why I like this blog :-)

  194. BRUCE says:

    Interesting thing for EC to say and really interesting discussion on here. i don’t think CD has had its day, and I do feel EC is perfectly right to issue this album on vinyl – after all that was the original medium. But you only to look at recent box sets to see how it could have been done – the Divine Comedy one on CD is divine, and the Prince vinyl one is wonderful. I think the problem I have is that the EC one is priced not even half way (more) between the prices of prince and the Divine Comedy and you get alot less for your money.

  195. Andrew Greenwood says:

    couldn’t we have a lovely 12″ by 12″ box with a single Blu Ray in it with all the audio on it?
    then we get all the artwork but a nice simple disc for all the songs (in multiple audio formats).
    I’d go for that but I ditched my armed forces vinyl some time back and it was the original version with the three track ep and the lovely but fragile Barny Bubbles sleeve (I tore mine).
    I’d also be happy with 4 CDs in a hard back booklet than many bands seem to think is OK (Cure, Marillion, Hendrix, Cream, Beatles) which leave a big book for art and text.
    I’ll be waiting for one of these as sadly the Vinyl box would not interest me even for a tenner

  196. David Robinson says:

    Well he’ll be issuing his new record on cd won’t he ; and it will be available to stream, and on MP3 – he won’t be insisting on lossless for his new album. Similar debacle to his “ spin the wheel” Deluxe box set..encouraging people not to buy his own product.As much as I love his music he’s a man of contradiction and occasional piffle. That’s all our musicians to be fair though ….. contradictions to the core.

  197. Michel Banen says:

    I love when artists sell signed bundles via their website of new releases with the vinyl, CD and cassette. Vinyl to play at home, CD for the car and the cassette for nostalgic reasons.

  198. Lee says:

    Fast forward to six months from now: “Now available on CD!”

  199. Tim says:

    Whilst Elvis is entitled to his opinion, I have to agree with the majority here and it feels a little like throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater! Those who have a record player and money will I’m sure buy this box set, but those who don’t have either its a non-sale…though I guess the counter argument would be that only ‘completists’ will want the material on offer and this ‘marginal group’ will throw money at it. Seems a shame tho, as in my experience a good box set at a reasonable price can introduce an audience/listener to an artist they may have not been aware of before…can’t tell you how many artists I’ve discovered that way.

    • Jay says:

      I remember a prescient interview with Jack White a few years ago, in which he said the future would be streaming for portability/ on the move/ in the car etc. and vinyl for the home listening experience, and it seems to be going that way.
      I haven’t played my CDs for ages – and to be honest new laptops etc. don’t have CD/ DVD drives so when my old Bose CD player (which gets no use nowadays) gives up the ghost I’ll have no way to play them and won’t bother replacing the player (I have mp3 in the car).
      Love vinyl, but I have my study /man cave I can retreat to to listen to them – understand they can be impractical in some households. Just received my new Matt Berninger solo album today on lovely blue vinyl with beautiful cover artwork, which reaffirms why I love them. I agree though that when they start going north of £100 for Deluxe box sets Of one album Such as Armed Forces (which is around £250 on coloured vinyl) I start to baulk, so swings and roundabouts.

  200. MARK LEVY says:

    I’ve been building up vinyl again but I think it can co-exist alongside CD very well.

  201. Steve Devery says:

    I loved the mystique of buying vinyl as a young man. I embraced the convenience of CDs when they came out but retained and used my turntable as well.
    I still buy both formats but prefer vinyl. I’ve never embraced streaming though I use it occasionally when not at home. I think the enjoyment of bringing a new album (vinyl) home, pitting it on and reading the lyrics or liner notes has stayed with me. Each to his own. Elvis Costello is an icon of the music industry. I have a few of his albums but not heaps. He has an opinion as we all do and is entitled to it. He may have a financial bias or other reasons as we all do. Buy or not. Based on your own reasons and biases. Doesn’t need to be an Elvis bagging session but can be if you want it to be. Have always loved Armed Forces.

  202. Gareth Jones says:

    Ever since moving in with my partner and then getting married, I have to say my vinyl collection barely gets a listen. My turntable is in the lounge and there’s nowhere else to put it really. The majority of my music listening these days is either playing CDs in the kitchen while I’m washing up or making/eating dinner, or playing CDs or Spotify on my computer with headphones on when I’m working.

    Alas, my days of just chilling out in an armchair with a drink in hand and absorbing the wonders of vinyl are, sadly, very rare. It was something I did a lot more when I was single, but most evenings are now spent on the sofa watching TV box sets.

    I have lots of newly purchased vinyl that remain unplayed. Meanwhile as soon as I get a new CD, I play it on straight away. I’m sure this situation is not the same for many SDE readers, but others may relate to the fact it’s not always easy finding the time to put vinyl on. I’ve sometimes bought a new vinyl album and listened to the digital download several times before I finally get around to putting the vinyl on!!

    And as for the suggestion that CDs create torn booklets and are inferior for storage, that is ridiculous. Compared to CDs, I have WAY more bent and torn record sleeves and creased inserts (some, yes, were 2nd-hand vinyl, but some arrived like that brand new!). And CDs store neatly on the shelves, in artist alphabetical order in my case. My vinyl is stored in cube crates and I have to flick through them to find anything, even when alphabetical. Plus the sheer weight of them is making out floor sag, I’m sure of it!! If this occurred, I guess Elvis would just say “accidents will happen.”

    • Peter Muscutt says:

      I agree to some extent that family life/kids are not conducive to a relaxing vinyl listening experience – my young one usually dances for a couple of minutes, before he decides that a small action figure or lump of Play-Doh really needs to go on the turntable, or if the lid is down (to stop small fingers alternating the LP between 33.3 and 45rpm – another favourite pastime!) he’ll have a thump on it…

      Needless to say, most vinyl listening happens after he’s gone to bed or if he’s out with mum!!

      He is an early admirer of coloured vinyl though – “daddy, it’s so pretty!” as he said about the recent purchase of the Daft Punk ‘Tron Legacy’ soundtrack!

  203. WayneUK says:

    They said vinyl was dead years back. It’s made a come back. I wouldn’t right CDs off just yet. Yes, figures have improved for vinyl and CD sales are down, but CDs are still outselling vinyl by thousands. I used to love vinyl, but was converted by CD. To say the sound is limited on CD is nonsense. You can go far further with it than vinyl. The only down side of CD is the art work. It is miles better on vinyl. You get to see the cover so much better. Sorry, but l will be sticking to CD Elvis. I have a 2 CD set of Armed Forces. That will have to do.

  204. Steve Devery says:

    I loved the mystique of buying vinyl as a young man. I embraced the convenience of CDs when they came out but retained and used my turntable as well.
    I still buy both formats but have never embraced the download formats though occasionally use thi

  205. Pablo says:

    In my view EC is deliberately hiding other various reasons (mentioned later in the article by Paul), most importantly the margin that he expects to earn with this. It has become apparent that there is clearly an strategy within the industry to dismiss Cds. In the meantime I am personally buying more Cds than ever, some for ridiculous low prices. Once they are gone I will keep listening to them (or to my digital copies) until 20 years later they build a new strategy to position them as a fashionable (and surely pricey) item again.
    PS good luck to EC in selling the AF vinyl boxes, do not count with me on this one

  206. Arnd says:

    He does have a point. The CD Audio format is from 1982. That’s nineteen-eighty-two. The area when home computers used to have 5 kilobyte RAM and a 1 MHz CPUs.
    That’s why the CD Audio does not have a bit-exact error correction. Back then, there was no hardware to perform that with an 16bit 44.1kHz stream.
    I am not anti-digital, but to me, the CD Audio sounds almost always inferior to LPs, possibly due to its low resolution and/or primitive error correction.

    • Wayne k says:

      Vinyl is much much older. It ain’t the age. It’s the mastering. Well mastered CDs sound great and honestly having compared sacd to vinyl to CDs each have their advantages. No one has to buy this and he can choose the format so many won’t. Hope he makes it up in profit margin cause that’s what this is about.

  207. Shaun says:

    I would have bought this on cd but I am not that much of a fan to want to pay £200 for a vinyl box set. There is room in the marketplace for both formats and pressed in the right numbers any box set should be a profitable enterprise. However, what disappoints me most is that the concert recordings are incomplete. What is the point of including incomplete concerts especially when no explanation has been provided as to why. A missed opportunity in my view.

  208. Scott says:

    Demonstraby inferior to vinyl? That’s a very uninformed and misguided trendy viewpoint, and it’s quite the contrary. Any mastering engineer who cuts vinyl will have to admit the amount of changes that often need to be made to a recording to cut properly into vinyl, such as lowering the bass so the stylus doesn’t just the groove or using de-essing to help reduce sibilance, especially in the famous ‘end track distortion’. And here’s a note from a New Model Army B sides CD from the early 90’s about a song they needed to change because of vinyl’s limitations: “Originally it had the biggest, weirdest drum sound ever, but we were told that it couldn’t be cut onto vinyl, so unfortunately we had to change it.” Doesn’t sound like the superior format Mr. Costello has convinced himself it is.

    • Mark S says:


      As a format I would agree that 16/44.1 (CD) or better digital is sonically superior to vinyl as a playback medium. However once you factor in mastering vinyl can have more dynamic range than the digital release and sound better. Excessive compression/limiting and loudness is only possible in the digital domain and not achievable on vinyl unless the cutting volume is set incredible low so the feed used to cut the vinyl often bypasses all the limiting (clipping) used to boost loudness

      In this regards digital’s downfall is the abuse that it’s superiority enables……

      The overall sound quality for me comes from a mix of factors 1) playback system, 2) playback medium and 3) mastering and as such 3 can off-set 2

  209. FrenchDuke79 says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how tribal people get about physical formats. I have read this through a couple of times now, and although I am no big fan of EC, there’s nothing wrong with him expressing his opinion. Sure you may agree/disagree with him but being a CD or Vinyl fan-boy/girl/misc isn’t going to change a thing. It’s just an opinion based on your experiences, not a fact!

    I picked up the expanded copy of this album on CD from Music Magpie for £2 last week and that’s good enough for me. Will I buy the next big Bowie box on Vinyl, damn right I will as I think EC is correct, I love the large artwork etc. I bought Prince SOTT on CD though because I wanted to compare it to the original, awful CD that I already have.

    My point is this, there are so many variables involved here (equipment, mixing, mastering, etc) that quibbling over formats is just fruitless. You all sound like a bunch of 10 year olds arguing if the XBOX is better than the Playstation.

  210. Padraig Collins says:

    What a jerk. That box set would fit on four CDs, which would maybe retail for £30. This is nothing but a greedy, money grabbing exercise from Costello. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluded.

  211. Lyle says:

    I’m an EC diehard and I think he’s a lovely guy who has given so much to the world of music but I disagree with him here.

    I don’t turn my nose up at vinyl, streaming or downloads, but CDs remain the best available combination of tangible aesthetics (liner notes, art), sound and portability, and there isn’t a reasonable argument to be made to the contrary.

    CDs are going to have their day in the nostalgia sun just as vinyl has. I just hope this doesn’t require them being killed off first, the way vinyl was.

  212. G.D. Wilde says:

    Surprisingly incoherent and clueless.

  213. Caroline says:

    One assumes he saw the leftover copies of his last album being sold off for £2.99 each and took the hump…

    I don’t need an object to be able to engage with music properly and I find the assumption that I do a bit insulting. I *like* nicely made music-related objects and spend a decent amount of my available cash on them. But being told that I cannot possibly truly appreciate Mr Costello’s work without holding a £200 pile of ink, paper and plastic is just a teensy bit condescending.

  214. Marcel Rijs says:

    I only have so much space for music in my room, so years ago I decided to get rid of LP’s and buy all my music on CD. I do think vinyl offers a more beautiful artwork but the clicks and hisses I can do without.
    If an artist decides to release their music on vinyl (or, for that matter, download) I won’t buy. Simple as that.

  215. Alan B says:

    I think at £200 it is way too expensive for what you get. But to charge an extra £50 for the colour vinyl version is absolutely shocking. How can they justify that? The same stampers will be used. The thin edge of the wedge started when record labels starting charging a pound extra for the colour vinyl. Now it can be up to £5 for a single LP. Absolute rip off. By the way Recordstore have one of their famous stock counters on the colour vinyl version. It has been stuck around 90 for about a week now so it is has only sold just over a 100 copies on pre order. At £250 I’m not surprised.

  216. gwynogue says:

    Quote: “All the artwork is cramped down into a horrible little booklet…”

    Considering some of the *cough* ‘artwork’ *cough* I’ve seen over the past few years, it’s no great loss.

  217. Ross Baker says:

    One thing I truly dislike about this era is format wars. I remember a period when you could simply go to a shop and pick up a new album as CD, cassette, LP, even MD at one point. And people would be happy with their purchase.

    Now, there seems to be a necessity to justify which format you choose and pick a side. And the only people who lose out in cases like this are those who don’t have the same opinion as you. As Paul wrote about earlier this year, CD is still, by far, the most popular format in the UK, which suggests that it hasn’t had its day. There are millions of people who buy CDs. By making a conscious decision not to release on the format, Costello is simply alienating a significant portion of his potential listener base. It just seems totally unnecessary.

  218. David Holdstock says:

    This is such a shame. Whatever happened to ‘doing what the fans want?’ Why not (shock-horror) treat us like grown up children and let us decide for ourselves? Release on both formats and then we can make our own choices. Indeed, some may choose to buy both but that is their choice. We’ve lost the plot. It should be about the music! Just got the Marillion box set (thanks Paul – super service) and a decent booklet plus brilliant content shows the way. I’ve never met anyone who wants repro posters, badges, scarves or even marbles! If you’re a collector you want the originals. Let’s get back to the music.

  219. Chris Squires says:

    oooh this is a can of worms Mr. Costello.

    One thing I would say is that most of the people who say they do not like vinyl tend to chuck into the conversation that they stopped playing it in 198x / 199x.
    Certainly when I think of how my 11 year old (1978) to 25 year old self (1992) treated physical (Vinyl and CD) music I can see why many will have left it behind. There is no way a 12 year old’s copy of Lionheart will have been kept in any kind of playable condition. I would regularly leave records on the sideboard or on the floor and vividly remember using my 1979 bought copy of “Boxed” as a coaster for Hot Chocolate and a filing cabinet for sellotaped clippings.

    All of which are things I would say that current 50 somethings would have done to their early copies of The Jam / Japan / OMD vinyl because as a 12 year old you were not thinking 20 years ahead, just the next 2 minutes 54 seconds. Fidelity did not matter, I certainly never did anything as grown up as clean a record. The closest I got was running that black velvet type block over a turning slab of dirty vinyl possibly picking up some of the bits of carpet adhering to the playing surface.

    Now I wouldn’t let vinyl near my RP10 without cleaning it on the Hannyl Aragon first, then slipping it into a mobile fidelity anti-static sleeve. So I would guess that a fair few of the “Vinyl-disgruntled” people are remembering things as they were and not as they are. Then they are probably quite right in seeing Vinyl as a cash cow. But that is a very short sighted and selfish view, in my opinion. Artists and labels need to make money, they are not charities and I bet whatever job you do if someone told you that you had to do it for half the money you made doing it 10 years ago you would not be too chuffed. CDs suit many of us but the artists also know that once the digital product is out there their money is blown to the wind. Not that I would recommend it but just looking at Pirate Bxx figures for a current release shows your hard work being stolen by a couple of thousand people every minute. Then there are those who say they prefer to do things legally and stream, well spotify et. al. pay the artists fuck all.
    So that leaves us. The people here. Those that still like to hold the music in their hands. Even that (this) can be a war. There are always regular posts and posters against a particular vinyl box set, calling it a cash-in, rip off and those who buy it are stupid mugs. Or the current trend of “The Democratic Socialist Republic of SDE” who think that anything beyond Billy Bragg or Red Wedge at £0.79 for an album is a Capitalist plot.
    I have always advocated there is room for all here and I don’t necessarily agree with Declan that CD has had it’s day and am inclined to agree with those who will say this decision is all about profit margin.
    But, in the same way that adhering to the very singular thoughts of Greta Thunberg will not necessarily make the world a better place. The people in charge of making these physical music decisions are not necessarily the best people to have in charge, but then again neither are their most strident detractors any better as self-interest invariably rules.
    As usual the answer lies somewhere in the middle but that will require a great effort plus some planning and sacrifice. Great box sets can be made at a reasonable price and will sell, in both CD and Vinyl but that requires vision and long term planning and curation. Something execs have shown themselves not to be very good at. What is needed (but won’t happen) is for the execs to lean on the people who actually buy these things (people like The Editor here) to help push them in a long term, sustainable direction. So the producers (Artists / companies) make enough money to survive and flourish and the ecosystem (us) get what we want out of it all.
    Short term flagrant “cash-grabs” (a term I do not like) will do more damage to legacy and the industry in the medium / long term but might fill a short term hole in finances.

    • Leemer says:

      12 year old’s copies of Lionheart? True. I think that it is down to how you care for your records. I saw a Analog Planet’s Michael Fremer play back his original 1969 copy of The Who’s Tommy. It sounded fantastic. I wish I would have taken such good care of my vinyl when I was 12. Vinyl is a lot more fragile than and unforgiving to misplaced fingers than a CD. As for audio spectrum, a properly mastered CD can still sound very nice. If you want to experience full audio spectrum you need to go with high resolution audio such as BluRay or 24bit192khz / 24bit 92khz audio files.

      • Derek Langsford says:

        I am a little older and was 15 when I got my Lionheart LP. But I took care of vinyl even when I first started collecting at age 13 (ABBA Greatest Hits was my first LP). I always bought a poly-lined inner sleeves and plastic outer covers to protect my “investment” (grew up poor so was always taught to look after my stuff). I didn’t have a great turntable, but it was not a “kids” one either. But the frequency with which there were problems with new vinyl fresh out of the sleeve at the time was a real turn off. Then portability as a student became an issue (lived in Cornwall went to Univ of Edinburgh) and I turned to cassette and dealt with Dolby B, Dolby C and tape getting wrapped around the rollers. Then moving to the USA in 85 and some stability in my living situation, CD appeared and I had found the solution to the shortcomings of vinyl and cassette.

        I have spent the last 34 years upgrading my playback equipment to make the CDs, SACDS, DVD-As, and BDs I purchase sound as good as they can afford. The resurgence of vinyl hasn’t solved it’s problems and fixing them is a lot more hassle than sending new CDs/DVDs if the labels even bother. I rip all my CDs to stream them trough my home system. And if a CD for some reason became unplayable, I can burn a new one. If CDs disappear I will go to hi-res downloads. Not sure how multi-channel will fare in an all digital file world but assume it will be playable with some clever manipulation.

        So Mr. Costello, even if you were one of my favourite artists, I would not indulge in any reissue unless it was on CD or other digital medium.

  220. Jarmo Keranen says:

    He sounds like a grumpy old man who needs better eyeglasses to be able to read cd-booklets. I own My Aim Is True and This Year’s Model in cd versions and that’s enough for me from his products. To me vinyl ended when the 80’s ended. Thought i still own the record player haven’t bought none after it!

  221. David Holdstock says:

    It’s such a shame that we have to even get into this debate. What about the idea of ‘putting the fans first’? Why not give us the choice and treat us as grown up children to make our own decisions – shock-horror! Indeed, some fans would buy both which is of course their choice. I’ve never met anyone who likes the repro programmes, tickets, posters, badges….most fans want originals. We’ve lost the basics of when I started buying music on single or LP (and then CD) that we’re buying for the music.

    • SimonH says:

      Totally agree!
      I find the quote about it being inferior as a sonic storage system hilarious, based on what exactly?!
      If you like vinyl fine, but there is a sheep like mentality at work here.
      Maybe next he will reissue it via a cassette box set.
      I love Elvis but all I can say is thanks for saving me some money, which I can spend on more music.

  222. Blue Mountains says:

    In the first six months in the US, there were 10.2m CDs sold and 8.8m vinyl ( so vinyl may soon overtake CDs. I am guessing that the margins are higher for vinyl so the record companies will continue to push it. Unfortunately I do not have a record player anymore and have no intention of getting one (or space for it and the records I would end up buying) so it is either CDs or downloads for me.

  223. MichaelM says:

    And we needed Elvis Costello to tell us that why?

  224. Shane says:

    Here’s my answer to you Elvis, and your fatalist claim: bye Elvis.

    • Mike says:

      “Here’s my answer to you Elvis, and your fatalist claim: bye Elvis”.
      Elvis has left the room?

      My biggest gripe with his assertation is it appears to have no grey area – LP=Good, CD=Bad. Which is a ridiculous viewpoint. And (my point of view, obviously), LP box sets are a pain from quality control – noisy vinyl, excessive static etc. I don’t know what has changed but most (if not all) of my old LPs have no surface noise and play as well as they did when new.

      A few years back I switched to a Marantz SACD/CD player – and my vinyl playback seriously decreased, lovely warm sound with clarity, and no clicks.

      But, as another comment noted – vinyl equals large profits…

  225. James J. Kelly says:

    Thanx Elvis, we’ll take it under advisement!

  226. DaveM says:

    Laughable really, as said below artists like EC had their careers sustained on CD for nearly thirty years. It’s more about return and no one ever mentions the sustainability aspects, particularly of something that gets inherently worse (unless you have a top notch turntable) with every play.
    It may be slightly shoddily packaged, but the sound quality on the new Dire Straits CD box set, and particularly Love Over Gold is stunning, in fact it’s one of the best examples I have heard of why the CD remains and always will remain my favourite format. Clarity, detail, great separation and no nonsense during the quiet bits. Outstanding and it’s an old remaster.

    • Jules says:

      Love Over Gold is the album that convinced Mark Knopfler to go digital, because he hated how the sound of the piano on “Private Investigations” kept changing with every playback of the tapes.

      Nowadays, he uses a mixture of analog and digital recording.

      Sorry for the digression – this is about releases, not about recording…

  227. Francis says:

    Well, as far as I am concerned, Elvis Costello “Can shove this vinyl LP box set where the sun don’t shine!” I have purchased previous boxsets and albums of his and him and his band on CD in the past and he was happy to have all those released and take the money made from their sales, so he is a hypocrite! I, for one, and many others, DO NOT buy vinyl, downloads or stream music. It is people like him that will kill off the CD, if it ever does come to an end, which is disgraceful when he is part of the music industry.

  228. Alastair says:

    It’s disappointing for someone like me who doesn’t have a turntable, but there are plenty of other releases to spend my money on. I have pretty much all of EC’s CDs, mostly the original expanded editions, and I’ll continue to enjoy them and any new releases he may agree to have released on CD.
    I suspect he’s making a virtue out of necessity, because as you say Paul, it’s unlikely a CD edition could make the kind of return he’s looking for from the full fat vinyl version. If they are made available on streaming services, I’ll listen to the previously unreleased stuff that way. What will he make from that??
    I would still hope that there might be a CD version some way down the track.
    I think he’s also wrong about CD artwork; it would make a handsome package in the style of the Lennon boxes, but what do I know………..

  229. James Rainbow says:

    Each to their own Elvis. I’m happy with CDs. Got a couple of thousand of them and wouldn’t have the space for that much vinyl, nor would I have been able to afford them at the current going rate.
    I understand the romantic pull of vinyl but it isn’t convenient/suitable/affordable for everyone.
    Also, I’m pretty lucky in that I have the skills and ability to remove CD inlays. A massive win for me.

  230. Michael says:

    At least I have never been a fan of Elvis Costello. The artists I like should keep the compact discs coming. I am buying them. I buy vinyl too. It is not an either-or proposition.

  231. Mark S says:

    I love music and buying it and have spent a fortune on my Hi-Fi (thousands) and I have settled on three sources:

    Streamer (FLAC lossless)
    FM (rare radio 3)

    My turntable set up (turntable, cartridge and phono amp) is exceptional but costs twice as much as my streaming set up (streamer and DAC) but both are comparable under the right conditions.

    My preference from an audio perspective is generally 24/96 FLAC but this depends on the mastering although my preference for ownership is vinyl. Vinyl done well can often sound better than digital done badly but badly here means the mastering really. To me well mastered lossless digital sounds better than vinyl but digital mastering is often so bad that I end up with vinyl because on balance it sound better due to the mastering process.

    The vinyl warmth that many love is actually turntable added distortion and in fact my Rega RP10 is not warm its neutral so many vinyl fans would say it sounds clinical and more like a CD, but that’s because it’s far more neutral.

    I have no interest in owning CDs now though and if I can’t get the vinyl or lossless download I buy the CD and rip to FLAC and give the CD to charity.

    However the majority of my music purchases are vinyl.

  232. Roots Controller says:

    Eeeeehhm…. so why did Mr. Costello agree to his new
    album being released as a cd?

    • daveid76 says:

      So he can milk the CD market before moving on to a £400 vinyl set with each track on a separate vinyl, each a clockface showing a different time, assorted tatty paraphernalia and a life-size voodoo doll of Elvis for you to torture to the tune of “Needle Time”

  233. SteveT says:

    I am a huge fan of EC but I think he is not only wrong but being a bit disingenuous about the reason why there is only a vinyl release of this. He wants to sell these at more than £ 200 a pop – I am not interested in spending £200 on something that on CD would be worth circa £ 60.
    This will be the only EC release I have not been in the queue to buy on the day of release. His loss not mine – my guess is that when the original sales have been exhausted there may well be a subsequent CD release.
    I will also guarantee that his new album Hey Clockface will sell more copies on CD than it will on Vinyl.
    I will make one last comment – the Birmingham gig of his tour in February/March was one of three that were cancelled – I didn’t opt for a refund because he said we was rearranging. Every other artist that I had gigs cancelled for has either rearranged or given a full refund – he is alone in not rearranging. He has or the venue has £ 180 of my money. My love of EC is being challenged to say the least,

    • Nigel McAllen says:

      In relation to the ticket refund I would assume it is the venue. I had tickets for Cardiff, which has been refunded.

      • SteveT says:

        Nigel, yes I was offered a refund but decided to hold onto the tickets because they were decent seats and I was lead to believe that the gig was being rearranged.
        Even last month the Symphony Hall were saying that rearranged dates were being announced imminently yet in recent interviews EC has suggested that his fans may never get to see him in a live setting any time soon.
        I am unsure as to whether I should return them or what in vain.

  234. sound.mind says:

    I agree that the CD has had it’s day .. Although not that the LP offers superior fidelity… it easier and in my case much cheaper to download a hi-res 24-bit, 96 kHz album. Note CD fidelity is 16-bit, 44.1 kHz.. Like it or not the internet has revolutionise the delivery of music. Hi-res audio files are now much faster to download. Even Bandcamp offers 24-bit downloads. These hi-res digital downloads approach closer to the fidelity of studio tapes, media, etc. than vinyl LP records.
    I would argue, we haven’t gone backwards to the LP and the CD wasn’t superseded by another optical media (such as SACD, DVD-A, Pure Audio Blu-ray) but by 24-bit hi-res downloads.
    If anything the pandemic has hasten that.

  235. Rog says:

    We’re always hearing about the death of one format or another. I don’t think any are truly dead, they’re just not anywhere near as popular as they once were. It’s the historic sales volumes, to varying degrees, more than the formats themselves, that have ended.

    Even cassettes seem to have returned, albeit as a niche product some artists are offering in pre-orders and multi-format packages for their new albums. No idea who is buying those!

    But the reports of their death have been greatly exaggerated.

  236. Mark Jensen says:

    Vinyl is the superior format only if it’s created in a way that delivers music that’s never been anti-aliased filtered, which requires a fully analog chain for recording and mastering. I seriously doubt the new Armed Forces set is pure analog, so it’s basically just inferior cd cut to vinyl, which unfortunately provides the worst of both formats. Cds are far more convenient if the music has been digitally sampled anyway.

  237. DogFacedBoy says:

    Regardless of whether it’s on CD or vinyl – the box set is overpriced for what it is in comparison to other similar releases. Gimmicky and incomplete performances. It’s not for the die hard or the casual fan – just the completist.

    • SteveT says:

      I agree with DogFacedBoy. To some extent this is a missed opportunity and I am surprised given Elvis was involved with the curation of what went into the set that he chose stuff that was incomplete or already officially available elsewhere.
      I would have bought it at a different price level and so too I think many other people.

  238. Mark says:

    It’s a weird argument to not have any kind of package on CD – by all means do a super duper deluxe with bells whistles and hood ornaments on it but make sure anything unreleased is at least available to stream (annoyed me that band demo versions for Flowers In The Dirt was only on box set – think that’s been rectified since)

    If the rumoured Painted From Memory redux is only on vinyl i will shit a brick (not literally, that would be hideous)

  239. Dennis Mosen says:

    Personally I think its another way to get more money out of you and you’re not getting a choice of cd or vinyl

    • Klaus says:

      Dennis Mosen:

      I can assure you that he’s not getting ANY money out of it from me as long as he’s only releasing it on vinyl…

  240. Seikotsi says:

    I am shifting from vinyl to cd now mainly because vinyl editions can be up to 10 times the price of cd editions. Thanks to musicmagpie and their competitors I can get most old CDs I like for around £2, and most new ones I can get for £9.99 and with the new trend of releasing new ones at £4.99, I really do not feel I want to buy vinyl records for £20+. So, yes, I would like the Sade box set on vinyl if anyone wants to buy it for me for Christmas – it looks gorgeous, but if not I can buy all these CDs for a few pounds on ebay.

  241. Ben Williams says:

    I love Elvis but his statement does annoy me a bit… his new album is coming out on CD! His last album came out on CD in an expanded 2 disc version!
    And to say the booklet of a CD is too small, the super Deluxe of Armed Forces could literally stay the same size, book-wise, and have CD instead of vinyl.
    Plus to mention not paying artists properly for CD sales… has he looked at Spotify!? Not cool Elvis.

  242. emsquared says:

    With a few exceptions “there is no such thing as better, just different”. Whilst I like the tactile nature of vinyl I am not convinced it is better sound wise or storage wise than CD (hey if we’d’ve had 12″ laserdisc as an audio medium it would’ve kept the form factor AND delivered both analogue and digital audio but convenience & portability was they key to CD). I guess almost any medium is inferior if you don’t take care in how you master the audio on it and treat the product afterwards.

  243. David Cornyn says:

    I don’t want to be rude so I will say Costello is talking nonsense (I had another word in mind initially). How many cd reissues have there been of his albums? I imagine he has done quite well out of those. I buy both formats depending on the value/content of the set, usually, and I don’t imagine I am alone in that. There are often extra tracks with cds box sets; whereas the vinyl one might just have albums tracks only.

  244. Sean Hewitt says:

    I really respect Costello but he’s totally wrong about this. I’ve owned CD and vinyl versions of many albums but nowadays I only buy CDs. They’re far better sonically in my opinion. I was very interested in the Armed Forces boxed set when it was originally announced but the fact it’s vinyl only and being sold at that price just means I won’t buy it. All-vinyl sets also can’t offer the chance to hear albums remixed for 5,1 surround, which has been a revelation for me in the last few years. I look forward to his new album on CD. Digital discs every time for me!

  245. blink says:

    To me this quote sums it up as far as Costello is concerned “ It was always an inferior compromise that involved not paying the artist properly”.

    Not sure in which way it was an inferior compromise other than the artwork being small as he mentions afterwards, but that and not getting paid properly (whatever that means) seems to be his main gripe.

    As to audio quality, I do not buy into CD being inferior at all. That is nonsense, but if you ever tried convincing a flat earther that the Earth is round, you can see how hard it is to convince someone of objective facts than they have their mind made up. To me the Vinyl resurgence very much fits the same pattern.
    We unfortunately live in an age of irrationality / post-truth where facts don’t matter but your beliefs and feelings about a thing do.

    It also seems to me that most of your price alerts these days are for Vinyl rather than CD, so at a minimum the demand for Vinyl gets overestimated.

    I for one will never again buy Vinyl and if that means I stop buying music altogether as the CD disappears for worse, then so be it, saves me some money and my collection is large enough that there isn’t really much I’d miss (even though there are some albums I still would want extended editions of).

  246. Joseph Kern says:

    In the history of recorded music, artists have never been better financially rewarded than during the golden age of CDs.

  247. Richard says:

    I would argue that Costello’s music has seen its day too.
    But seriously as a cd buyer, one thing that frustrates me is that lots of packaging for cds is quite poor, if they made more effort, like the Japanese for example, rather than charging 9.99 for a cd which is rudimentary at best they could do a more elaborate packaging, make it more of a product that can actually be valued as a visual entity along with the music and they could charge more and i personally would be fine with it.
    Manufacturers seem to think making cds as basic and cheap as possible these days is a selling point, whereas its actually just devaluing the brand.
    Off hand i’m thinking Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds ‎– Push The Sky Away which came in a lovely mini book rather than a basic jewel case, that kind of thing.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Yes, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy with cheap CDs and shoddy packaging.

      • Kevin from Edinburgh says:

        I think CDs simply became too cheap. They were given away free with newspapers, and on the front of magazines. Today, I can probably buy most new cds for around a tenner. When I started buying them, back in 1989, some 31 years ago, I was able to most new cds for…..around a tenner. Gradually, the cd lost its allure, in no small part, due to being ‘financially downgraded’. It’s a mixed blessing. Compact discs have never been more affordable than they are today; they’ve also never been ‘cheaper’.

        The compromise is there, though, although mainly in the form of multi-disc reissues, where the packaging/presentation is arguably just as much a selling point as the music. Dress it attractively, and people will still buy it (see TFF, Jethro Tull; Macca, Texas al). Alternatively, offer it at a budget price (e.g., recent Dire Straits box set for ~£16), and people will buy it. Sell it in a plastic jewel case, with few notes, and it loses both of those appeal factors.

  248. Stephen King says:

    I think that actually the most telling comment is “It was always an inferior compromise that involved not paying the artist properly”. This make me think of the issues artists had with record labels not wanting to pay them for sales of CD versions of back catalogue albums as their contracts did not specifically include a royalty rate for the format before it had been invented. As you say, Paul, he’s happy enough to issue his new album on CD (along with a million other formats/packages)…
    My opinion is that back catalogue/reissues are well suited to CD if mastered properly and the record company in this instance is doing themselves out of sales income. But what do I know, I’ve only been a music consumer for 40 years and some of the record label execs have been deciding what we punters want for us for as long as they’ve managed to hang onto that particular position.

    • SteveT says:

      I get your argument but it doesn’t just apply to CD’S. Clothes, DIY goods, airfares – all are much lower than they were – it is the way of the World – vinyl was also more expensive even a year ago. Now companies are vying with each other for a slice of the Vinyl market and prices are tumbling here too. Will that eventually negate his argument?

  249. Steven Lowe says:

    Always found it difficult to play vinyl in my car without the needle jumping though, especially over speed humps.

    • Ben Williams says:


    • Mike Thorn says:

      Having tried a variety of CD players in my Mini I found they jumped as much as vinyl probably does in your car. Once I was able to get MP3s into the car it was much more successful. Now some of my CDs including ones in expensive box sets don’t work and that’s not through over use.

  250. Andy AVAV says:

    It’s different, but not inferior

    Mr MacManus & the whole recording industry have done very well out of us buying LPs, then CDs, now vinyl again.

    He can & sit in a room with Neil Young, if that’s how he feels.

    Let’s embrace the MUSIC, regardless of its physical format. A good tune is still a good tune.

    I’ll get my coat :-)

  251. Nick Love says:

    Music has moved from being primarily a physical means of distribution to a collectible market, therefore the powers that be are moving from something practical, cheap and efficient for mass production into something that is better suited to be shelf conversation pieces. You can buy a bucket of 100 used hot wheels at a rummage sale $10 that will likely outlast your children’s children or you can buy model car recreations for $50 a piece that can barely be touched without taking damage and must remain under glass. Which one is better for the consumer? Which is better for the seller? There’s your answer.

  252. Dave H says:

    Does the £200 price tag include hi-res digital download?

  253. Jim says:

    Strange thing to say. Regardless of your opinion as to the sound of each format, CD undoubtedly works much better than vinyl as a “storage system”.

  254. Barry says:

    What does he mean by this…”It was always an inferior compromise that involved *not paying the artist properly*”?

    Plus he’s clearly not taking CD booklets out of the case properly.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      He is referring to the fact that record labels charged more for CDs but didn’t increase the royalties for the artist… in fact if I recall correctly they may even have been *lower* than for vinyl in some cases.

      • Barry says:

        Thanks – that makes sense.

        Has that position changed given that vinyl generally costs more than CDs these days? If not, his argument should stand for vinyl (unless you’re not selling a CD equivalent…which, of course, he isn’t in this case).

      • Jason says:

        Incorrect I think. Royalties are a percentage, so the price of the final product is immaterial. What do come into play are the additional contractual deductions for CD releases, a relic from the days when it was a new format.

        So Elvis isn’t happy he agreed to those deductions (not that anyone had a choice really), and his criticism of the ‘inferior’ format seems to be more related to the fact that he can’t read the tiny tiny text!

        CDs are an ageing format for sure, so why no DVD-audio or Blu-ray then? They both have excellent sound, ‘demonstrably’ better than vinyl, I would argue.

        Also, as you say, it seems clear that selling a vinyl box set for £200 on your own website is always going to earn more money than putting all audio content on a digital disc.

        • BenAdd says:

          Elvis owns the masters on his pre-WB catalog – “My Aim is True” through “Blood & Chocolate”. The crap royalties are on streaming and i-tunes.

  255. Babis13 says:

    All opinions are justified in this topic, this is not a black or white topic but largely subjective.
    Speaking about myself i prefer the CD format. I’m 43 years old so majority of my life i bought CDs and listened music through these. I remember, though, when i was younger buying vinyl and get all the good things about this format (however i also remember the bad things like the attention needed to maintain, keep good sound). At the moment, i have both a turntable, (several) cd players and subscribe to streaming services. CD is much more convenient for me and much easier to maintain in a good shape than vinyl records. I buy occasionally also vinyl but i noticed that they finally stand somewhere in my collection gathering dust, while i listen to CDs and streaming.
    Plus, the convenience and the nice representation of several CD box sets is something that keeps me buying more CDs than ever, actually. Streaming has also resulted in me buying more CDs as well :).
    On the other hand, it’s inevitable i’m afraid that in 1-2 generations time music streaming (or another digital way to listen to music which will be invented :)) will totally dominate the music industry and record collecting will become a kind of hobby for few people.

    Finally, regarding the particular Elvis Costello topic, i think this is just an opportunity for the company and the artist to win more money from a deluxe vinyl box set. Doing both formats would be a better treatment to loyal fans.

  256. John MC cann says:

    Costello was always vastly overrated in my opinion !George Harrison said much the same about him when he was working with McCartney! On flowers in the dirt! So CDs are s*** he wasn’t saying that when he was knocking them out for £13 a pop back in the 80s and 90s was he,?,

    • Mister Stick says:

      I love Elvis, but not so much as to push aside several other Christmas options in favor of something this expensive.

      But here’s one aspect of this almost as bothersome as the price: Elvis says vinyl is the better sonic solution. Fine, let’s take him at his word. That means he’s selling this one not on content, but on sound of same. If so, then why press some of the music on 10″ records? In my collection, I really value the 12″ singles. Stretching a 4-minute song over a full side sounds fantastic, especially at 45 RPM. So, it stands to reason that the live stuff included here (which seems quite foreshortened from a whole show) would benefit from a wider record and a faster speed. Especially at this price.

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