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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
Armed Forces
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£6.49+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 May 2015
Elvis Costello's third album and the first to give The Attractions billing comes from 1979 and is expertly produced by Nick Lowe who mikes Costello's voice front and centre to deliver lyrics full of menace set to pop friendly backing. Contained early on are the two huge singles "Accidents Will Happen" which opens the album and "Oliver's Army", but there's also the well-known staccato rhythms of "Green Shirt" here too. "Party Girl" which closes the original side 1 is extremely Beatlesque, borrowing the guitar riff from "Sun King", but there are plenty of highlights along the way, not least "Goon Squad" the side 2 opener. Costello spits venom like a Cobra, with sneered delivery masking the iron fist in the velvet glove of The Attractions' backing. Anyone not listening could think these were pleasant tunes, but that was always part of Costello's early albums - deep lyrics surrounded by lush production. Listening in 2015 it still sounds relevant, still catchy - and still displays a master craftsman with an extraordinary turn of phrase.
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on 7 September 2012
For me, Punk was defined by thrashing about on instruments and snarling alot without ever saying much. It seemed to die quickly because the "New Wave" scene arrived. This music was often fast, usually well-played and the lyrics had bite. One of the great exponents of this scene was E.C. and The Attractions. This, for me, was the moment when the band perfected their music. The lyrics are very sharp, spikey and clever. Often negative and dismissive of a society that in 1980 was sliding into self-interest and greed (sounds familiar?). What lifts this album above the norm, is the brilliant playing by The Attractions. The music at times is almost insanely chirpy and pop-driven. I have to confess, it is only in recent years that I have really appreciated how clever this album was. If you aren't keen on E.C.'s voice put it to the back of your sound and listen to the music, whilst reading the lyrics! After this album, for me E.C. became too clever and the albums remained inconsistent and flawed whilst the contribution of The Attractions waned. In some ways he re-discovered his skills when recording King of America, ironically without The Attractions. No doubt, it is easy to pick up this CD for a fiver. If you do, keep listening to it: sooner or later it click and work for you. If there is one album that captures the impending doom of the 80's this is it, and yes I was there, and the live concerts were amazing!
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on 12 March 2018
After 1978's "This Year's Model", by 1979, Elvis Costello And The Attractions had made their organ and bass-dominated sound something of a trademark. Nowhere is it exemplified better than on this album, which became on of their most popular. Personally, there are others I prefer more, but it is twelve (thirteen if you include "What's So Funny About Peace, Love & Understanding") perfectly constructed three minute "New Wave" pop songs set against some observant, cynical lyrics. Bruce Thomas's bass never sounded better than it does here.

Backed by a mainstream TV advertising campaign (highly unusual, if not unique, for "pop" albums in 1979 - just showed how far "punk/New Wave" had come in three/four short years), the big hits "Oliver's Army" and "Accidents Will Happen" are obvious standouts, but other highlights are the sparse, mysterious "Green Shirt" (what was that one all about?), "Busy Bodies", "Goon Squad" and "Two Little Hitlers". Try to get the thirteen track edition if you can. Better was to come, however.
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VINE VOICEon 6 December 2010
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.
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on 2 April 2017
I lost my original copy of this (probably in a divorce). I knew what I was getting, I bought it again.
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on 28 December 2017
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on 3 December 2017
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on 7 September 2017
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on 19 June 2015
Been listening to this on a scratchy old cassette for ages too so, along with 'This years model', I went for it. As good as it ever was. Me Costello at his 'punky' best- brilliant reminds me of my late teens in Berlin and Checkpoint Charlie
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on 3 November 2015
I'm giving this four stars and not five because I still have a niggling doubt that the theme is followed through consistently. But I'm being picky. It is a very good Elvis album.
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