Elvis Costello – Armed Forces: #428 of best 1,000 albums ever!

Elvis Costello - Armed Forces

So why is Elvis Costello’s Armed Forces on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?

There are so many things to love about Elvis Costello (and don’t forget the rest of the band, The Attractions!).

One is that his sound doesn’t sound like anything else; it’s absolutely unique and absolutely pleasing. And then add the fact that this holds true even as his music is pretty eclectic both in terms of sound and lyrics and it’s even more astounding.

A little admission here that I’m slightly bashful about: Elvis Costello’s music was mostly off my radar until I was well into my twenties.

I do recall that I was working at one digital media start up or another, and I clearly remember that it was during the boom of the “peer to peer” music and file sharing era (which people identify most closely with Napster).

I came across a song called “Oliver’s Army,” and I was absolutely hooked as an Elvis Costello fan from that point forward. It’s a gorgeous and catchy and kind of groovy and rocking song all at once. I love Costello’s delivery, the song construction, the mix of piano and organ. There’s so much to love about it, perhaps most of all that it’s astoundingly unique.

I did some digging with regard to what “Oliver’s Army” is about, and while there’s some conflicting stuff out there, this bit from Song Facts tracks:

Elvis Costello wrote “Oliver’s Army” in 1978 on a plane coming back from Belfast. It was the first time he went to the city, and he was shocked to see very young soldiers from the British army walking around with machine guns. The song covers Northern Ireland’s troubles, the end of the British empire, and life in the army.

While Armed Forces was not a crossover hit in the U.S., “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding” has become one of Costello’s best known songs. It has an innately accessible and singalong-able quality that resonates and holds up really well, and it also strikes me that it has a lot in common with Billy Joel’s best known singer songwriter-meets-rock/pop numbers.

Side note that it looks like maybe Costello and The Attractions filmed the music videos for both of the above songs while on vacation or on tour at some tropical locale?

“Accidents Will Happen” reminds me how talented Costello is at crafting and delivering a melody. There are also wonderful little change ups in terms of the tempo and other musical dynamics that show off the meticulous craftsmanship and musical production at work.

Personal stuff that has something to do with Elvis Costello’s Armed Forces

In my recent entry for The Zombies’ I Love You (#430 of best 1,000 albums ever), I griped about how occasionally Spotify won’t include some albums from some artists sometimes. It’s the whole “you don’t know what you don’t know” problem that irks me relative to technology products* sometimes, though of course in this case I and we are wildly free to conduct additional research on the world wide web and beyond.

* I’m a digital product manager by trade, so this is something that I’m happy to bore people about at length.

Anyway, time for another Spotify gripe! Most often, Spotify will display the “correct” year that an album was released, meaning… you know, the actual year that the album in question was unleashed upon both the world and the webs.

But sometimes they won’t. Sort of. In the world of “remastered” and “deluxe” releases, there are sometimes new editions of albums that have a more recent release date versus the original. When Spotify makes both the “original” and the new fangled version of the album available, it’s not a problem because it’s easy enough to see what’s what when browsing an artist or band’s album collection.

Ah, but sometimes Spotify won’t make the original available! So it is with Armed Forces, where the unsuspecting listener and consumer of Elvis Costello Musical Products could mistake that the album was released in 2020 (when the “remastered” version was released) versus the original 1979 release date.

This is all to say that we here at Pop Thruster and the best 1,000 albums ever project as ever endeavor to bring you the most accurate information when it comes to the blather we hurl at you, digitally speaking.

In any event, have a gander at some stats and info about Armed Forces that we’ve lovingly crafted for you.

Some stats & info about Elvis Costello – Armed Forces

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? British Bands, Rock Music, New Wave, Pub Rock
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
  • All Music’s rating – 5 out of 5 stars
  • When was Armed Forces released? 1979
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #428 out of 1,000

Elvis Costello’s Armed Forces on Spotify

A lyrical snippet from Elvis Costello’s Armed Forces that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe

What’s so funny ’bout peace, love and understanding?

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.