Elvis Costello: Armed Forces (1979)
Elvis' initial run of a half dozen albums from 1977-1982 (excluding maybe his country side-track) was just stellar, not a bum note. (Which is not to say he hasn't continued to release great music since then -- he certainly has -- but it's that first half decade which continues to stun with its brilliance.)
So, no, I can't pick just one, and am more or less settling somewhat randomly on Armed Forces.
Like each of these early albums, there are maybe a half dozen simply perfect songs, and then a bunch which are merely great. The perfect ones here? Obviously his album-closing cover of Nick Lowe's "Peace, Love & Understanding" is the stand-out. I've got nothing against the original that Lowe (who produced Armed Forces) recorded with Brinsley Schwarz, but Elvis's version shows what it is that makes the Attractions more than just a backing band; they take Lowe's chiming 3-chord power pop song and make it a monster. The drums alone make it worth buying the album.
But you've also got opening track "Accidents Will Happen," a complex, baroque pop track extraordinaire (and similarly ambitious "Busy Bodies"); deceptively chipper anti-war anthem "Oliver's Army"; compellingly restrained marvel "Green Shirt"; and aggressive "Goon Squad," a bit of a throwback to the angrier Elvis of his prior albums. Maybe there's a bit of a slowdown on the latter half of the album, but it's a pretty solid package.
But, then again, so is the first album. And Get Happy. And...
Anyway, here's some Peace and Love: