Armed Forces album cover

Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Armed Forces

Columbia, 1979, new wave

B, 1966: Hard to imagine now how fresh this must have sounded in 1979. Great record, nearly all of it holds up to the test of time. Lots of great tracks, but my favorite here is definitely Elvis’ cover of Nick Lowe’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding”, produced by Lowe himself.

C, 2002: Great album. Love EC. Pete Thomas on drums is always impressive to listen to from when he’s younger so I thoroughly enjoyed this record. Elvis is one of the greatest songwriters and this album makes you appreciate what each member brought to this band. Cool To think back on what it Must’ve been like recording as a group this early in the game and hearing peace love and understanding and Oliver’s army for the first time on the radio. My favorite was probably “Party Girl” only because “Oliver’s Army” is a pretty obvious choice aside from Peace love.

H, 1951: A wonderful album. Produced by Nick Lowe, the music is open and inviting pop, catchy and listenable, not as raw and edgy as the music from Costello and the Attractions’ prior two albums. The lyrics are clever and insightful messages from a perpetual observer fascinated by all of the intertwining power structures running throughout the society he finds himself in. Is Costello angry or just amused? Is he making judgments or only observations? Is he an observer or a participant? Is he more interested in cogent commentary or clever lyrics? The album offers no definitive answers to any of these questions, and is probably all the stronger because it cannot be simply reduced to any of these elements, but instead insists on blending all of them together. Great stuff. Costello’s version of Nick Lowe’s song “(What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” is the most straightforward, and my favorite, but really all of these thirteen tracks (many under three minutes) are just terrific.

Published 19 Sep 2019

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