Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Armed Forces (1979)

Oh, I just don't know where to begin. With this, Elvis Costello's third release in less than a year and a half, each one equally fully packed and with barely a shred of filler, the dimensions of his talent were starting to come clear. On vinyl, either side constituted a complete experience, and—not to go all cliché on you—it was like taking a roller coaster ride that followed each set of sudden dips, turns, and shrieks with, not a braking cruise back to the starting point, but another climb to greater heights. He pulled rabbits out of hats and then he pulled hats out of rabbits. Depths of reference peeled back to reveal more depths of reference, and repeated listening was rewarded with sustained and increasing pleasure. This could get to be a daily habit that lasted weeks, even months. He wasn't Buddy Holly. He wasn't Bob Dylan. Lord knows he wasn't ABBA. But he could have been all of them, parading around inside the skin of a wonky nebbish. It was impossible to guess how he was doing it. Best just to shut up and listen.

1 comment:

  1. This is my favourite Elvis Costello album, What do you reckon 'Accidents Will Happen' is about? Something not good I think, but how bad, it never quite says. Here's an interesting fact gleened from Q magazine (purchased in a pique of boredom) the original title of 'Armed Forces'; 'Emotional Fascism'.