Saturday, 2 June 2018

Elvis Costello & The Attractions - Armed Forces (1979)


Released June 1979

Recorded at Eden Studios, London

After 1978's "This Year's Model", by 1979, Elvis Costello And The Attractions had made their organ and bass-dominated sound something of a trademark. Nowhere is it exemplified better than on this album, which became on of their most popular. Personally, there are others I prefer more, but it is twelve (thirteen if you include "What's So Funny About Peace, Love & Understanding") perfectly constructed three minute "New Wave" pop songs set against some observant, cynical lyrics. Bruce Thomas's bass never sounded better than it does here.


1. Accidents Will Happen
2. Senior Service
3. Oliver's Army
4. Big Boys
5. Green Shirt
6. Party Girl
7. Goon Squad
8. Busy Bodies
9. Sunday's Best
10. Moods For Moderns
11. Chemistry Class
12. Two Little Hitlers
13. What's So Funny About Peace, Love And Understanding

Backed by a mainstream TV advertising campaign (highly unusual, if not unique, for "pop" albums in 1979 - just showed how far "punk/New Wave" had come in three/four short years), the big hits "Oliver's Army", with its Abba-inspired keyboard riff, and "Accidents Will Happen" are obvious standouts, but other highlights are the sparse, mysterious "Green Shirt" (what was that one all about?), "Busy Bodies", the upbeat, bluesy "Goon Squad" and the lyrically potent "Two Little Hitlers".

There are a few inconsequential songs, though, “Sunday’s Best”, “Moods For Moderns” and “Chemistry Class” in particular. Better was to come, however.


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