Hobart and William Smith Colleges Herald, April 18, 1980

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Hobart & William Smith Herald
  • 1980 April 18

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Cruel to be cool


Sidney Monroe

Elvis Costello's American career has been a frenzy of sorts. He has been heralded as many things by the critics but for the most part Elvis had maintained a mysterious air. Get Happy!! is the latest album by Elvis and the Attractions and it displays the diverse characteristics of his career. Listening to Get Happy!! is like sitting in a whirlwind. With ten songs per side Elvis pounds out tiny worlds of sound, bang-bang-bang. Yet the songs are private and hard to penetrate — the mysterious element. Get Happy!! is a brilliant album, already lauded by the critics.

Elvis has progressed through a pop structure. His songs have always had a bouncing beat. Get Happy!! is compiled with a large tip of the hat to the Stax/Volt records of the mid-sixties. The overall sound is almost muted, heavily rhythmic and with very little piercing or high end. Elvis' vocal accuracy is exceptional; the lyrics are buried in the mix leaving the listener to decipher his word games.

Most of the material seems to be concerned with love, rejection, frustration, and private anger. Elvis delivers his sting with a smug "hold-back-'til-I-let-you-have-it-baby" tone. In "Human Touch" he groans, "I know I just got to get out of this place / I can't stand any more of that mechanical grace / I need, I need, I need a human touch / I need you!"

Elvis draws from rock, soul (there are two soul covers) and '60s pop. It is all very distinct from the fury of the song "Radio Radio," yet Elvis is still in complete control. It is as if Elvis simply decided to present his obsessions in an "I'll show you" manner.

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The Herald, April 18, 1980


Sidney Monroe reviews Get Happy!!.

Images

1980-04-18 Hobart and William Smith Colleges Herald page 08 clipping 01.jpg
Clipping.

1980-04-18 Hobart and William Smith Colleges Herald page 08.jpg
Page scan.

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