George Washington University Hatchet, April 17, 1980

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Costello's 'Get Happy' fall short,
tight rhythm, but mediocre solos

Joseph Kemmer

Florescent orange, blue and green colors entice shoppers seeing Elvis Costello and the Attraction's new album Get Happy!!

The latest release is an eye catcher. Twenty songs fill up this long-playing lp and producer Nick Lowe assures listeners (on the back cover) that the extra music time will not affect the sound quality. An attractive package; a deceiving album.

According to the jacket, side one opens with "I Can't Stand Up," one of two songs written by The Merseybeats. On the disc the sides are reversed and the first one opens with "Love For Tender." I recommend playing side one according to the disc first.

Costello's new album is about love — the way Elvis sees it. Giving away his "Love For Tinder" Costello bares his feelings. The song it a striptease for an unnamed lover. The rhythm is compelling but the song is constructed on a simple descending A major scale.

Costello is marked for hit lyrics. They are pointed, sarcastic, cynical and in their own way amusing. For example, in the song "Opportunity" he sings: "Born in the middle of the second big baby boom / Those moms and pops just might have spoken up too soon / I'm looking for a little girl I wonder where she's gone / Big money for families having more than one. / Opportunity. opportunity, this is your big opportunity / To shop around, follow you without a sound whatever you do now... Don't turn around."

"Secondary Modern" begins with a catchy bass solo and shortly afterwards highlights Costello's voice. "King Horse" trots along but falls short of any prizes.

The next two songs are perhaps the best examples of Elvis' contempt for members of the opposite sex. He is a possessive lover but he doesn't want a possessive love. He wants love free of restraint and silly emotions.

In "Clowntime is Over" Costello decides to take hold of the situation himself, a feat he never really accomplishes. He plays "New Amsterdam" and "Hi-Fidelity" but there is no climactic conclusion.

It is not as easy to get hooked on-the other side. The first few songs are a bit rushed and it is hard to understand the lyrics. This is where the record loses its lustre.

While the band is tight rhythmically, all the solo lines are mediocre. Many of the songs are not developed properly. Introductions that last four measures sound like the record is skipping and a lone harmonica solo sounds like it was improvised for the first time during recording.

Costello fails to live up to expectations when you compare Get Happy!! to earlier efforts. He relies on too many ideas already applied on his other recordings. This approach may win new fans for the band but listeners who have been following his music will soon be discouraged and attracted elsewhere.


The GW Hatchet, April 17, 1980

Joseph Kemmer reviews Get Happy!!.


1980-04-17 George Washington University Hatchet page 17 clipping 01.jpg

1980-04-17 George Washington University Hatchet page 17.jpg
Page scan.


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