Elvis Costello: Get Happy!! (1979)

Writing here about a year back, I noted how hard it is for me to settle on a favorite Elvis Costello album. Those first half dozen or so records were pretty outstanding across the board; I ended up going with Armed Forces, but if forced to pull a single Elvis LP off the shelf, I vacillate between that one and Get Happy. (Which isn't to say I don't also reach for the others with some frequency as well.)

Get Happy, Costello's 4th, stands out not just in terms of quality, but quantity -- 20 pithy tracks (not counting plenty more on various CD reissues) over the length of a standard LP, all pretty damn solid, with more of a pop and R&B flavored groove than his earlier albums. It's like a Motown album for people who never thought they liked Motown albums (see also the Jam's Gift album). Way too many great tunes to pick favorites -- for pretty much any other artist, this would be a greatest hits collection, not just one of a fistful of great long-players -- but I've always been partial to the upbeat party tunes like "Love For Tender," "The Imposter," "High Fidelity," "I Stand Accused," and "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down," as well as quirky pop tunes like "Black and White World" and the soulful, sophisticated grooves of tunes like "Possession." Not to mention gorgeous ballads like "New Amsterdam" and the complex, baroque closing "Riot Act."

Of course, this frenetic race through a so many great and varied songs would never have worked if the Attractions weren't so incredibly tight, translating Costello's peripatetic songwriting into blow-out-the-windows, ridiculously funky nuggets.

Here's the video for "I Can't Stand Up":
...and "Love for Tender":
...and "High Fidelity":
Here's "Black & White World" live on tv in '80:
 ...and "I Stand Accused":


  1. Humanfund here. Nice to see the King of postpunk get a turn. Lately I'm pretty partial to New Amsterdam, which in its pretty tune and bittersweet lyrics is up there with Alison. And its video hits just the right tone.

    I also like EC's antics in the High Fidelity video--think his father was a bandleader too.


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