Gah, do I love me some sensual 80’s sax! Critically unacclaimed (I’m going with it), Goodbye Cruel World is widely considered the band’s worst effort, and apparently Declan Patrick MacManus (Elvis Costello) was quoted as saying this record would be his final professional offering. The album isn’t monumental, but it’s certainly not terrible, and lucky for all of us Elvis lovers, Goodbye would in fact NOT be goodbye after all, as he’s gone on to record a total of 30 studio albums to date, up to and including last year’s Look Now. Insanity.
So happy to finally get this stellar Elvis Costello and the Attractions album from ’79 titled, Armed Forces. Presented here is the US variant cover (UK cover showcases elephants, for those with inquisitive minds). Obviously a much-needed classic, this copy was purchased by my nephews at a South Jersey record shop as a holiday gift. Thanks again, buddies!!
Another find from the recent online hunt is (yet) another Elvis Costello release. This time, This Year’s Model on 8-track. Now, I know we’d “recently” touched upon the vinyl version of this seminal album, but let’s be honest, is $12 too much to pay for an essential, recent obsession on an obsolete format? Well, clearly, the answer is an astounding no! Happy New Year, kids!
Preceding 1986’s Blood & Chocolate by only seven months is this T-Bone Burnett-produced icon, King of America. Billed as The Costello Show featuring the Attractions and Confederates in the UK and simply The Costello Show featuring Elvis Costello in the US, this 15-tracker clocks in at just under an hour (57:36) and features Costello’s fixation with Americana (at some points sounding almost completely country… but in a good way). The cover photo is emblematic and was my only visual recollection of Mr. Costello for much of my budding years… so much so that I thought it was a cover to a Greatest Hits or catch-all double or triple CD box, but alas, just a groovy cover to a groovy album, his 10th studio effort.
I heard Elvis Costello’s I Want You on Spotify a few weeks ago and immediately fell in love with it. A maturing Declan MacManus is not for the faint of heart (at least, not for those heavily into his first two albums: 1977’s My Aim is True and 1978’s This Year’s Model), but respect should be given to the delightful evolution of his songwriting ability. Blood & Chocolate is the King’s eleventh studio album (recorded between March and May of ’86, released that September), and would prove to be the last with The Attractions for nearly a decade (eight years until the release of 1994’s Brutal Youth). I Want You, the obvious standout, is a near seven minute emotional roller coaster that finishes up the first side. Listen with caution, but listen with frequent urgency.
My current obsession… Mr. Declan Patrick MacManus aka Elvis Costello, and specifically his debut work with The Attractions (and second studio album overall), 1978’s Last Year’s Model. Up until (very) recently, all I’d spin was Elvis’ debut, 1977’s My Aim is True, but with a little LA traffic commuting help from Spotify, I’ve rediscovered my love for clever lyrics and shrewd, earworm hooks. This man truly is king.
I was fortunate to nab the bulk of Elvis Costello / Elvis Costello and the Attractions’ early releases at rock-bottom, dirt-cheap prices (something like $4 each). One of them was this 1983 release from Columbia Records titled, Punch the Clock. Since I’ve been slammed at the money-maker lately, I figured this album’s title was pretty damn appropriate.
I know that when I gobbled up cheap Elvis Costello records, back before I knew what I was getting, that a payoff would be inevitable. Today, I’m reaping the rewards of this legendary man’s artistic contribution to pop music, simply by knowing what I have. Get Happy!! is the fourth studio album by Declan Patrick MacManus (Elvis Costello), and the third as Elvis Costello and the Attractions. Though frequent spins come more from Elvis’ debut album, 1977’s My Aim is True, Get Happy!! is a great addition to this, or any collection. The earlier the better with Costello and his mates, but something to get happy about nonetheless.