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Armed Forces

The Attractions, Elvis CostelloAudio CD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)

Price: $10.94 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Accidents Will Happen (Album Version) 3:01$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Senior Service 2:18$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Oliver's Army (Album Version) 2:59$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Big Boys 2:55$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Green Shirt 2:42$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Party Girl 3:21$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Goon Squad 3:14$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Busy Bodies 3:34$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Sunday's Best 3:22$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen10. Moods For Moderns 2:48$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen11. Chemistry Class 2:54$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen12. Two Little Hitlers 3:11$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen13. (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding (Album Version) 3:32$1.29  Buy MP3 

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Frequently Bought Together

Armed Forces + This Year's Model + My Aim Is True
Price for all three: $32.12

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  • This Year's Model $10.00
  • My Aim Is True $11.18

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 1, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Hip-O Records
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,174 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Less hot under the collar than This Year's Model, Armed Forces was partly inspired by Elvis Costello and the Attractions' 1978 American tour. The songs are set to deceptively poppy arrangements that use plinky Abba keyboards ("Oliver's Army," a hit single about mercenaries), Beatles-ish devices (the fade on "Party Girl"), and whimsical waltz-time signatures ("Sunday's Best") to mask their core cynicism. "Goon Squad," "Busy Bodies," and "Accidents Will Happen" are among Costello's most melodically powerful songs to this point, leading the way to the masterful Get Happy!!. --Barney Hoskyns

Product Description

Under the influence of Krautrock and ABBA, Costello crafted this 1979 new wave masterpiece including such classics as Oliver's Army and Accidents Will Happen .

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
Armed Forces represents an early high point to Elvis and the Attractions' late-70's progression and development. On this disc, Costello is fully mining the vein of what he had referred to as "Revenge and Guilt" song subject manner while filtering it all through the framework of a fascination he had with the topics of fascism and control. A good share of the songs either directly or indirectly feature characters or situations where corporate, military or social shackles "force" someone into doing something to someone else--usually something quite nasty. Lyrical tidbits of profound dark humor and twisted verbal brilliance are to be found all over the place in this strong set of like-minded songs. Examples include "It's a death that's worse than fate" or "They took me in the office and they told me very carefully the way that I could benefit from death and disability" (Senior Service)-or how about "Now you've given your performance/though the matinee was idle/ and you're finding that a wave of her right hand could seem so tidal" (Busy Bodies).

Though the musical stylings are still roughly defined by what became known as the 'New Wave' sound, this disc is more informed by the sounds of then-contemporary US AM radio than any other Costello disc. One cause of this was the AM radio in the station wagon the Attractions used to drive from show to show on their first US tour in 1978. You'll hear the evidence pop up in places like the piano flourishes (just like those in ABBA's "Dancin' Queen") in "Oliver's Army" , or in the four/four disco beat of "Senior Service". Disc one of this reissue set is the whole essential, verbose, witty, and ear-pleasing Armed Forces disc in both its UK/world incarnation ("Sunday's Best" included) and US version("...Peace, Love and Understanding" included.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elvis completes his trifecta May 5, 2007
Format:Audio CD
"Armed Forces" was Elvis and The Attractions' claustrophobic pop masterpiece, loaded with melody and paranoia, fueled by cramped touring vans, hotel rooms and long stretches of listening to ABBA, Kraftwerk, Bowie and the Beatles while driving between gigs. It was also the last of the Elvis albums that mirrored the tightly wound image/cliched "angry young man" singer-songwriter of the new wave world. It also happens to be one of the most indispensable albums of the 70's.

Songs like "Oliver's Army" and "Two Little Hitlers" brimmed with neo-fascist imagery and highly charged sexual/emotional content, yet flourished with pop-hooks. "Accidents Will Happen" portrays a barely apologetic philanderer as he tries to explain the infidelities of his life, and uses one of early Elvis' frequent descriptions of romantic partners as a "victim." (Think of how many times that word appears on his first three albums.) Many of the songs bear unmistakable ominous threatening qualities, like the roar of "Goon Squad," the hushed fear that underscores "Green Shirt" and the implied threat of "they took me in the office and told me very carefully, the ways that I could benefit from death and disability" (from "Senior Service").

Nick Lowe deserves a good deal of the credit for keeping this album in check (and when is he going to get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?!?!). It is likely his pop sophistication that gave some of "Armed Forces" levity in its darkest points. It is also Lowe's one song - and the first cover to appear on a proper EC album - that brings the relentlessly downward outlook to a more optimistic close.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Costello takes the music world by force November 22, 2002
Format:Audio CD
One of Costello's richest, most diverse albums, Armed Forces stands as a masterpiece full of rich melodies and witty songwriting. It's also a strong rock album that doesn't shy away from controversey. Although mired in controversey himself at the time (he got into a fight with Stephen Stills and his band over nasty comments about Ray Charles--it was Costello idiotically provoking a musical rival), Costello proved that he wasn't the racist he was accused of being and, in fact, apologized for the impetuous, stupid comments.Costello was mistakenly identified as a "racist" because of this incident. Many of the songs (particularly Oliver's Army)reflect the exact opposite. Regardless, the brilliance of the writing and production along with the sharp performances make this a classic worth keeping. This edition of Armed Forces isn't a cheat; the second disc alone has more than enough material for a new album. It includes most of the Hollywood High show (previously available as a three track EP), as well as, such minor classics as Tiny Steps. Also included are a number of alternate versions of classic songs and b-sides issued with the original singles.The sound quality is comparable (if slightly better by my estimation). The value added portion of the program is the stunning live tracks from Hollywood High on the second disc. There's also extensive liner notes explaining both the circumstances that went into the writing and making of the album. The lyrics include alternate lyrics as well for some of the demos.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I liked it.
Published 18 days ago by Harold Hamilton
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the album that made me love Elvis Costello
Of course, that was more than 35 years ago. Every song is worth listening to but my favorite is still "Accidents Will Happen. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Deb Oestreicher
5.0 out of 5 stars World War 2 through really thick glasses
Clever writing and songcraft about nit wits,nazi goons,peace,love and understanding.I wore this LP out when it was new,the CD has no flaws and sounds great.A good price too.
Published 9 months ago by Daniel D.McCord
5.0 out of 5 stars Elvis' Army Is Here to Stay
By 1979 it seemed that Elvis Costello was incapable of writing a bad record. With two successful albums under his belt expectations were obviously high. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Lunar Boulevard
5.0 out of 5 stars armed with greatness
I really love this album from beginning to end. I'm surprised too, I wasn't going in expecting Elvis Costello's style to appeal to me for whatever reason. I was wrong. Read more
Published on June 24, 2012 by B. E Jackson
5.0 out of 5 stars Really Great!
Let's think about this: the first three Elvis Costello albums were released in succession, with a year for all of them being recorded. Read more
Published on January 18, 2012 by Sci Fi Fan
5.0 out of 5 stars Costello's Most Consistent Songwriting
Elvis Costello's third album, "Armed Forces" is, like all his early albums, inspired and full of fine songs. Read more
Published on January 10, 2012 by Morten Vindberg
5.0 out of 5 stars RYKO wins again
Elvis Costello and The Attractions / Armed Forces (Rykodisc - 8 bonus tracks): Armed Forces is a fun and essential album in the Costello collection. A great one. Read more
Published on January 6, 2012 by J. Bynum
5.0 out of 5 stars Forceful
Elvis Costello is one of the music world's smartest artists. He also has a gift for finding the greatest musicians. Read more
Published on April 26, 2010 by DW
4.0 out of 5 stars Elvis' Wall of Sound
Highly relevant to how one appreciates EC's third album is the quality of the production. While the quality of the songs and songwriting is as great as the other reviewers state,... Read more
Published on September 2, 2009 by Miklblike Bosco
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