Review of Oliver's Army
NME, 1979-02-03


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ELVIS COSTELLO: Oliver's Army (Radar).

Cringeing under accusations of being samey, El One-Note has stopped pulling model girls' hair and turned his Napoleonic complex on politicians in this obvious slice of "Armed Forces", saying boo to Churchill's corpse and expecting it to turn over and sob face down into it's pillow.

This is Costello's "Winter of `79" or "English Civil War", with the scare-mongering for pleasure and profit usually found in those pop singers suffering from meglomania and paranoia - much more tuneful and enigmatic here but no less disposable. The unison of acoustic and electric brings to mind mid-period Dylan songs called stuff like "Queen Achilles Revisited" and the voice sounds more like Manfred Man than ever. The lyrics read like a Holiday 79 brochure, as glib as that free colour pull-out with "Give `Em Enough Rope" but a little more melodic.

The reference to a "white nigger" is Elvis being typically sensitive and original and will no doubt result in mucho controversial mileage as radio programmers break out in a hot flush - but will, of course, get a rave review in the ("Ain't nothing but a") Socialist Worker's Party rag.

Boring in a small way.