Elvis Costello “Armed Forces”

I always think of this as an Eighties record, but it’s 1978. Eighties because song after song starts out really good then loses its edge. The production is cold and distant (Nick Lowe) and you really get the sense that EC is wearing a mask. I guess in a way that’s always his thing, the glasses, the photos where you never really see him. “What’s So Funny About Peace etc.” sounds like he’s doing a Springsteen imitation. And the painting on the back cover looks like something they bought at the natural history museum but then couldn’t find any place to put it except for the men’s room.

I was going to use the song “Two Little Hitlers” as an example of a song that promises a lot and then loses it in the chorus, but as I listened to it over and over, I became obsessed with it, and it became new and fresh to me. I still think the chorus is a little weak, but now it’s one of my favorite all-time EC songs. SO I guess the joke’s on me.

2 Responses to “Elvis Costello “Armed Forces””

  1. February 2, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    I forgot that I actually have this record.. It’s one that I never really got into that much for whateer reason. “Peace Love” etc is an ok song, but not one I’d ever need to hear so badly that I’d have to play the record. For some reason it’s one of the songs I remember seeing on MTV *all* the time back in the early 80s, back when it seemed like every single British video was filmed on like 15-year-old 16mm film stock for about $5.00. I think I might have already mentioned that my favorite EC albums are Imperial Bedroom and .. uh.. the one that has like 20 songs on it, 10 short ones on each side, and has a bright orange sort of retro-graphic design cover on it.. Is that Get Happy? Maybe. I might have more to say if/when you cover those, if you have them. I really dont’ remember much esle about this LP!

  2. February 2, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    That’s “Get Happy”– it’s next! I don’t have Imperial Bedroom. If you have a copy of Armed Forces listen to “Two Little Hitlers” a few times and see if it strikes you as a pretty great song.

    One thing that really interests me is how something in your memory can seems stale and lame, but then you listen to it and it’s much better than you thought. And also how you can sometimes remember something as being really great, but when you listen to it you realize it isn’t.

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