I'm not Elvis Costello's biggest fan, and I probably wouldn't be interested in his music at all were it not for a friend who bought into his music from the start. While I avoided 'My Aim Is True', etc, he would insist on playing me every album, single and b-side as it came out until I eventually succumbed. As I lost touch with him after 'Imperial Bedroom', that's where my interest ends. Certainly, not everyone thinks Costello is a genius; just try reading the sleevenotes to George Thorogood's 'Anthology' and you'll see what I mean.
As for 'Armed Forces', I love it now, even though it's probably my least favourite of all his early albums, excluding 'Almost Blue' (I've always hated his country material). 'Armed Forces' was released when Costello was at his most popular and was advertised on TV, a marketing ploy usually confined to hit compilations. 'Oliver's Army' became his most popular single, while the superb 'Accidents Will Happen' ('but only hit and run' - typical Costello) did nowhere near as well, contrary to what my friend predicted.
Elsewhere, 'Green Shirt' provides one of his most inspired and incisive lyrics. Not surprisingly, this is probably the best known track apart from the singles. Military imagery appears on several tracks although military themes are not quite as abundant as might at first appear. The Attractions' role in Costello's early successes should not be underestimated either. They added distinct colour and a thumping groove to his music, something that the relatively pallid sound on the first album highlights. Unusually, there's also a cover of an excellent Nick Lowe song at the end, completing a highly satisfying album.