Q, 1998-04-01

The 50 Best Albums Of The '70s

7 Armed Forces

Elvis Costello & The Attractions
Radar, 1979

Elvis Costello allowed the pressure to drop, just a touch, for this, his third album - another work as tense as his previous album, This Year's Model, and he might well have exploded. Here the Attractions stretch themselves in new directions and have a ball in the process. The songs are still sung through clenched teeth, and the lyrics are verbal knuckledusters: the squabbling partnership of Two Little Hitlers is one of his most indelible images. But Costello's mentors were The Beatles, Burt Bacharach and Abba, and their lessons were not lost on him: the melodies, from Oliver's Army to Chemistry Class, are still bright and hard as diamonds.
Magic moment Steve Nieve's icepick piano intro (inspired by Dancing Queen) for Oliver's Army.
'90s act most likely to record it Elvis Costello, we wish