Elvis Costello and producer Nick Lowe deserve a warm round of applause for this record regardless of the music it may contain. There are — get this — 20 songs and over 45 minutes of music on this regularly-priced album. In the liner notes, Lowe assures the buyer that they accomplished their feat with no loss of sound quality, which is also no easy trick.
Very few recording artists will show the kind of concern for their public that Costello has by trying to cram as much music as possible onto his newest work. Record prices are high enough as it is, and if a few more musicians followed Costello's example it would make the burden a little easier to bear.
As for the music on Get Happy, don't be surprised if the album shows up on a good number of "Best of 1980" lists at the end of the year. Costello has always shown a knack for writing good songs, but he was never able to break through to the public in a big way. Many people considered him "a hostile little man who writes hostile little songs and sends out hostile little vibes," and at times such reasoning wasn't all that far off the mark.
Costello has tempered his anger on Get Happy and the result is possibly his best recorded effort. The songs on the album are almost uniformly clever, well written and arranged, crisply performed, and tightly focused. Influences range from reggae and Booker T & the MGs to movie soundtracks and the original British invasion, but the tunes are clearly Costello's and no one else's.
Linda Ronstadt recorded a batch of Costello songs on her new album, and that shouldn't hurt his popularity or bank account. But with Get Happy, Costello proves he's a serious musician who should be around for a long time.