Elvis Costello :: Armed Forces Revisited

The beauty of Amoeba records on Sunset blvd., with L.A. being a music industry town, is that you can stroll into the used section and often find reissues at half their original price, and often unopened. Such was the case last weekend when I spotted the 2002 double disc reissue of Elvis Costello’s third album. Bolstered by a second disc of b-sides, and a recording of The Attractions 1978 performance at Hollywood High, I was more than sold.

Costello’s Armed Forces is the final installment of his late ’70s creative triumvirate made up of: My Aim Is True (1977), This Year’s Model (1978), and Armed Forces (1979). This new-wave golden age of Costello would go on to be hailed as one of the most inventive and creative in recent rock history. While the rest of is career has proved both fruitful and prolific, this is generally where the real goods are to be had.

Produced by Nick Lowe the disc comes with liner notes penned by Costello reflecting on both the initial track selection, track notes, and the general atmosphere of both his public and personal life at the time. I found it fascinating, and at the same time not surprising, that many of the production choices used on Armed Forces were a direct correlation to what the band had been listening to in the van in during The Attractions 1978 tour of the U.S.; RE: the States a.m. commercial radio and the band’s road-purchased cassettes, all making there way both consciously and subconsciously onto their, soon to be, next album.

Listen below to the outtake “Tiny Steps” from the Armed Forces sessions. A classic Costello gem left off the album solely because it seemed like a throwback to the style of the album’s predecessor This Year’s Model. An alternate version of “Busy Bodies” and a live track from the 1978 Hollywood High performance. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall….

*Costello/Toussaint :: Live In New Orleans
*Elvis Costello :: I Don’t Want To Go To (Chelsea)

MP3: Elvis Costello :: Tiny Steps
MP3: Elvis Costello :: Busy Bodies (alternate)
MP3: Elvis Costello :: Accidents Will Happen (live)
Amazon: Elvis Costello – Armed Forces

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