Elvis Costello is one of the few artists recording today who has gotten a different sound on each of his albums. Get Happy!! is no exception. The first thing that strikes you about the record, however is the quantity. The sticker on the jacket boldly states "20 HITS, 20," and truer words were never spoken (well, maybe once).
But, quality is more important than quantity, you say. Go to the head of the class, smart boy. On this album, Elvis' scope grows wider than ever. Showing influences from old-time Motown ("High Fidelity") to the reggae meets dance music movement of Ska, this album is more keyboard influenced than his other three efforts.
Get Happy!! is proof positive that E the C is not standing still. While he is still the master of the double meaning and lyrical pun ("I step on the brake / To get out of her clutches" from "New Amsterdam"), musically both he and the Attractions shine forth on this record like never before. As a back-up band, the Attractions (Bruce Thomas, Steve Naive, and Pete Thomas) are the perfect complement to Elvis, both live and in the studio.
Of the twenty songs on the LP, one would be hard-pressed to find one that doesn't measure up to the standard of Elvis' earlier works. Tunes like "5ive Gears In Reverse," "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down," "High Fidelity," "King Horse," "Beaten To The Punch" and ... oh, hell, every last one of them deserves to be a monster hit on anybody's chart. If there's a bummer on this disc, somebody hid it.
Well, there is one thing. Nothing too terrible, really, but worth mentioning. It's just that Elvis shouldn't have been listening to Graham Parker's "Local Girls" before he recorded "Possession." That's all, they just sound similar, no big deal, don't go calling your lawyers or anything drastic. It just proves that even the big boys make mistakes.
By the way, producer "Basher" Lowe sends a message along to you audiophiles who are no doubt biting your nails to their nubs worrying about the sound quality of an album that has 20 tunes on it. "Who made this record, K-Tell?" you may ask in a uppity sarcastic voice. No. As Lowe explains, "...you will find no loss of sound quality due to 'groove cramming'..." So there mister sound expert. Guess he showed you, didn't he?
Now, lookit, if you're still not convinced that Elvis Costello's Get Happy!! is the best album released so far this year, get a copy and listen to it. If that doesn't sway you, if that doesn't get your feet moving, if that doesn't make you get happy, your good time switch is stuck in reverse (probably in fifth gear). Call me an Elvis fan — I-S-T-A-N-D-A-C-C-U-S-E-D.