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January 27, 2017

Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Armed Forces (1979) – Lp

by Record Facts

Declan Patrick MacManus (born 25 August 1954), better known by his stage name Elvis Costello, is an English musician, singer-songwriter, and record producer. He began his career as part of London’s pub rock scene in the early 1970s and later became associated with the first wave of the British punk and new wave movement that emerged in the mid-to-late 1970s.

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Artist:  Elvis Costello & The Attractions
Title:  Armed Forces
Year:  1979
Format:  LP
Label:  Radar Records
Catalog#  RAD 56597

Armed Forces is Elvis Costello‘s third album, his second with the Attractions, and the first to officially credit the Attractions on the cover. It was released in the UK by Radar Records and in the USA by Columbia in 1979. The album had the working title Emotional Fascism.

In contrast to the stripped-down pop and rock of his first two albums, Armed Forces boasted a detailed and textured pop production, but it was hardly lavish. However, the more spacious arrangements — complete with ringing pianos, echoing reverb, layered guitars, and harmonies — accent Costello‘s melodies, making the record more accessible than his first two albums. Perversely, while the sound of Costello‘s music was becoming more open and welcoming, his songs became more insular and paranoid, even though he cloaked his emotions well. Many of the songs on Armed Forces use politics as a metaphor for personal relationships, particularly fascism, which explains its working title, Emotional Fascism. Occasionally, the lyrics are forced, but the music never is — the album demonstrates the depth of Costello‘s compositional talents and how he can move from the hook-laden pop of “Accidents Will Happen” to the paranoid “Goon Squad” with ease. Some of the songs, like the light reggae of “Two Little Hitlers” and the impassioned “Party Girl,” build on his strengths, while others like the layered “Oliver’s Army” take Costello into new territories. It’s a dense but accessible pop record and ranks as his third masterpiece in a row

The album has appeared on Q magazine and Rolling Stone magazine lists of “greatest albums”.

Side one
1.  Accidents Will Happen   (3:00)
2.  Senior Service   (2:17)
3.  Oliver’s Army   (2:57)
4.  Big Boys   (2:55)
5.  Green Shirt   (2:42)
6.  Party Girl   (3:20)

Side two
1.  Goon Squad   (3:15)
2.  Busy Bodies   (3:33)
3.  Sunday’s Best   (3:23)
4.  Moods For Moderns   (2:49)
5.  Chemistry Class   (2:55)
6.  Two Little Hitlers   (3:10)

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