Armed Forces (album)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other uses, see armed forces (disambiguation).
Armed Forces
Studio album by Elvis Costello and the Attractions
Released 5 January 1979 (1979-01-05)
Recorded August 1978 (1978-08)–September 1978 (1978-09), Eden Studios, London
Genre New wave, punk rock
Length 40:05
Label Radar (UK)
Columbia (US)
F-Beat (1981 (1981) UK Reissue)
Demon/Rykodisc (19 October 1993 (1993-10-19) Reissue)
Rhino (19 November 2002 (2002-11-19) Reissue)
Hip-O (10 September 2007 (2007-09-10) Reissue)
Producer Nick Lowe
Elvis Costello and the Attractions chronology
This Year's Model
Armed Forces
Get Happy!!
Singles from Armed Forces
  1. "Oliver's Army"
    Released: 2 February 1979 (1979-02-02)[1]
  2. "Accidents Will Happen"
    Released: 4 May 1979 (1979-05-04)[1]
Alternative cover
US 1979 and 2002 reissue cover, also known as "paint spatter cover"

Armed Forces is Elvis Costello's third album, his second with the Attractions, and the first to officially credit the Attractions on the cover. It was released in the UK by Radar Records and in the US by Columbia in 1979. The album had the working title Emotional Fascism.

Initial pressings of the album in the UK and US included a promotional three-song single, Live at Hollywood High, which was recorded on 4 June 1978 (1978-06-04). The live tracks, also produced by Nick Lowe, are "Accidents Will Happen," "Alison," and "Watching the Detectives". The UK edition included 4 postcards featuring pictures of the band. The American version omitted "Sunday's Best" and instead included Costello's version of "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding", which had been released the previous November as the B-side of Nick Lowe's "American Squirm" single, at the end of side two.

The album has appeared on Q magazine and Rolling Stone magazine lists of "greatest albums". In the 1982 film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Elliott's brother, Michael (played by Robert MacNaughton), sings "Accidents Will Happen" in the family kitchen after coming home from school.[2]



Janet Maslin in a 1979 review in Rolling Stone felt the album was a "killer in several senses of the word"; remarking on the brief, energetic songs with dense and sometimes over-clever but snappy lyrics, Maslin felt that Costello "wants to be daring, but he also wants to dance".[3] Robert Christgau in a 1979 review in The Village Voice felt Costello was using words to "add color and detail to his music" rather than as "a thinking, feeling person"; though he approved of the "intricate pop constructions", and found the album overall to be "good" but not "great".[4] Both reviewers felt the album was more densely or richly produced than the two predecessors.[3][4]


Stephen Thomas Erlewine in a retrospective commentary for Allmusic, feels that the album is a more "detailed and textured pop production" than Costello's first two albums, making the music more accessible, though the lyrics are "more insular and paranoid".[5] Matt LeMay in a 2003 review for Pitchfork also commented on the production, which he felt was "extravagantly layered with dense instrumentation and rich, effusive textures" which "often serves to conceal, rather than reveal the nuances of Costello's songwriting"; and concludes that "the greatest strength of Armed Forces may be the same thing that makes it less viscerally powerful than Costello's two prior records – its songs absolutely demand to be appreciated for their craftsmanship".[6] LeMay argues that the album marks the point at which Costello found his role as a songwriter.[6]

In 2000 Q magazine placed Armed Forces at number 45 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. In 2003, the album was ranked at number 482 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time",[7] and then in 2012, was moved to number 475 on an updated list.[8]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Elvis Costello, except as noted.

Side one
  1. "Accidents Will Happen" – 3:00
  2. "Senior Service" – 2:17
  3. "Oliver's Army" – 2:58
  4. "Big Boys" – 2:54
  5. "Green Shirt" – 2:42
  6. "Party Girl" – 3:20
Side two
  1. "Goon Squad" – 3:14
  2. "Busy Bodies" – 3:33
  3. "Sunday's Best" – 3:22
  4. "Moods for Moderns" – 2:48
  5. "Chemistry Class" – 2:55
  6. "Two Little Hitlers" – 3:18

Live at Hollywood High promo single[edit]

  1. "Accidents Will Happen" (Live) – 3:18
  2. "Alison" (Live) – 3:08
  3. "Watching the Detectives" (Live) – 5:51


There was a Rykodisc reissue in 1993, and a Rhino reissue in 2002. The Rykodisc version contains the original album and bonus tracks on one CD; the Rhino version has two CDs – disc one contains the original UK album plus "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?" and disc two contains bonus tracks.




  1. ^ a b "Main Single Release Discography". The Elvis Costello Home Page. Retrieved 25 August 2008. 
  2. ^ Q Magazine. March 2008.  Cited at "E.T.: – The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) – Trivia". Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Janet Maslin (22 March 1979). "Elvis Costello Armed Forces > Review". Rolling Stone (287). Archived from the original on 14 November 2007. Retrieved 24 April 2005. 
  4. ^ a b Robert Christgau (26 February 1979). "Christgau's Consumer Guide: Elvis Costello: Armed Forces". The Village Voice. Retrieved 30 November 2011.  Revised version posted at "Elvis Costello: Armed Forces > Consumer Album Guide". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 29 April 2006. 
  5. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. Armed Forces (album) at AllMusic. Retrieved 20 June 2005.
  6. ^ a b Matt LeMay (2 March 2003). "Elvis Costello & The Attractions Armed Forces > Review". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 20 June 2005. 
  7. ^ Levy, Joe; Steven Van Zandt (2006) [2005]. "482 | Armed Forces – Elvis Costello and the Attractions". Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (3rd ed.). London: Turnaround. ISBN 1-932958-61-4. OCLC 70672814. Archived from the original on 11 May 2012. Retrieved 18 February 2006. 
  8. ^ Wenner, Jann S., ed. (2012). Rolling Stone – Special Collectors Issue – The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. USA: Wenner Media Specials. ISBN 978-7-09-893419-6
  9. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  10. ^ Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 24 October 2011
  11. ^ " Elvis Costello – This Year's Model" (ASP). (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved 23 October 2011. 
  12. ^ " – Elvis Costello and the Attractions – Armed Forces" (ASP). Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 23 October 2011. 
  13. ^ " Elvis Costello and the Attractions – Armed Forces" (ASP). VG-lista. Retrieved 18 September 2011. 
  14. ^ " Elvis Costello and the Attractions – Armed Forces" (ASP) (in Swedish). Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved 18 September 2011. 
  15. ^ "Elvis Costello and the Attractions – Armed Forces". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 23 October 2011. 
  16. ^ Elvis Costello > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums at AllMusic. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  17. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1979". RPM. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  18. ^ "Complete UK Year-End Album Charts". Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  19. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Elvis Costello – Armed Forces". Music Canada. 
  20. ^ "British album certifications – Elvis Costello – Armed Forces". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Armed Forces in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go
  21. ^ "American album certifications – Elvis Costello – Armed Forces". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH

External links[edit]