Don't let the ugly album cover fool you; this third record from Elvis Costello is just as good as his two previous U.S. releases. He writes short tunes as evidenced by the fact that none of the twelve songs on the album are over three and a half minutes long. (By the way, when is the last time you purchased a new record with that many songs on it?)
If Elvis has the capability of producing a single from his wide array of talents, it would certainly be the album's first song, "Accidents Will Happen." Costello's voice blends extremely well with the music played by his band, the Attractions. Also getting some well-deserved radio airplay is "Oliver's Army" which is dominated by some excellent piano playing and by Elvis' usual raspy voice which laments, "I would rather be anywhere else than here today." It is important to listen to the lyrics carefully, for they aren't enclosed with the record: "You've got a chemistry class/ I want a piece of your...mind."
But surely the sleeper of the album is its very last cut, "(What's so funny 'bout) Peace, Love and Understanding." It's a real rock 'n' roll number performed like a 1960's teen hit and what's more Elvis has disguised his raspy voice so much that you wouldn't recognize it was him.
There is no standout ballad on Armed Forces like "Alison" which was recorded on the debut album, My Aim is True. Or is there? Included as a special limited edition EP are an additional three songs recorded live at Hollywood High. Among them are a much slower version of "Accidents Will Happen" than the studio version and it features Elvis and an accompanying piano. In addition, Elvis has included an interesting live version of "Alison."
Elvis recently completed an extensive tour of his native England where he is most revered. The band is currently touring the United States including several visits to upstate New York. His aim is true. His rapidly increasing number of followers have enabled him to dominate what is left of the new wave movement.