Elvis Costello should have been a boxer. On his first two albums, Mr. C. stunned those lazy radio programmers with cunning works and catchy tunes. And now the KO...
Armed Forces, like its predecessors, is intense throughout. Elvis never lets his guard down for a second. His music and ideas are always new.
With this album, Elvis and his backing band, the Attractions, attack politics and people in their own unique style. Although the tunes might be catchy, Elvis' lyrics cut with the sharpness of a switchblade.
Producer supreme Nick Lowe gives Armed Forces a tense, full sound, with thick layers of Steve Naive's keyboards spread over the album like Fluffernutter.
You won't find jungle-stompers like "Mystery Dance" and "Pump It Up" on Armed Forces, but you will find some nice Beatle-esque harmonies, most notably at the end of the emotional ballad "Party Girl."
Elvis uses his military stance here to comment not only on politics, but also on personal relationships, or "emotional fascism" as he calls it. "Two Little Hitlers" gives the boy-girl struggle world power status. "Two little Hitlers who'll fight it out until, one little Hitler does the other one's will."
Costello's third shoulder-chip challenges the listener with aggressive pop power and snake-bite lyrics. And with the album is the extra play single Live at Hollywood High containing live versions of "Accidents Will Happen," "Alison" and "Watchin' the Detectives."
March 22, Elvis' Army will march into Shea's Buffalo Theater to participate in Mr. C's answer to the Nuremberg rally. So be there!