Tag Archives: Armed Forces

75 Essential Albums – Day #2 Elvis Costello – Armed Forces

Here goes with day 2 of my countdown of 75 Albums that in my opinion should have a place in everyones music collection.  They are not in any particular order though the top 10 will be my personal take on the top 10 albums ever released.  You might be surprised at some of my picks and some of my omissions.  Feel free to chime in with your comments and let me know if you love (or hate my choices).

Armed forces released in 1979 was my introduction to Elvis Costello’s Albums.  I had heard the singles “Watching the Detectives’ and ‘I Don’t want to go to Chelsea’ on the radio of course but this was the first album I bought.  Costello was one of ‘New Wave music’s’ angry young men and quickly established himself as one of the most articulate songwriters rock music has ever seen.

Costello has always pushed the boundaries and Armed forces was no different, it was perhaps the most aggressive of his early albums.  It was not as immediately accessible as his first couple of albums but it was a grower and has hidden depths that are not immediately apparent. Armed Forces is extravagantly layered with a depth of instrumentation, a richer sound than earlier releases and multiple textures.

“Accidents Will Happen” and the similarly stunning “Oliver’s Army” are, in my opinion two of Costello’s finest ever songs.  They have catchy lyrics and complex melodies driven along by high energy rhythms and a powerful arrangement.  The high level of energy continues on ‘Big Boy’ and ‘Green Shirt’.  The attractions playing is as always flawless and  the complexity of Costello’s songwriting demand that the songs on Armed Forces are appreciated for their craftsmanship.  This is perhaps the album that set the template for Costello’s future sound, the point where he moved from angry young man to accomplished songwriter and performer.