Album #443 – Armed Forces

Album #443

Album #443

Armed Forces is my favourite album by Elvis Costello and the Attractions. It’s probably because I feel it’s more accessible, I can identify with most of the songs and because it represents the band at their peak. The songs combine the angst of Costello’s early work with the sophisticated wordplay of his later work. In fact, one song off the U.S. version was not a track written by Costello at all. (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?, one of Costello’s signature tunes, was written by Costello’s producer, Nick Lowe. But, Costello delivers the song with the same energy and attitude, as if he had written it himself. This album also features Oliver’s Army (Costello’s biggest U.K. chart hit, using WWII as a metaphor for the then current conflicts in Northern Ireland and abroad) and Accidents Will Happen. While the album is more accessible, it also shows just how great Costello’s backing band are. By this point, The Attractions are a tight unit, despite the fact they have only played together for a year and a half. It also marks Costello starting to move away from the sound he started his career with. By their next album, a whole batch of new sounds would be explored. This continues today as he is constantly changing he sound from album to album or project to project. That is why EC has remained after all these years. He never does the same thing twice. Other highlights include: Senior Service, Green Shirt, Party Girl, Goon Squad, Sunday’s Best and Chemistry Class. Overall, I give Armed Forces, 5 out of 5.

Next: Rust Never Sleeps by Neil Young!!!

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