ELVIS COSTELLO and the ATTRACTIONS – ” Armed Forces ” Vinyl Box Set

Posted: October 3, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Elvis Costello: Armed Forces: Exclusive Super Deluxe Black Vinyl Box Set

Elvis Costello and The Attractions are releasing a new box set collection of their classic album, “Armed Forces” is the third studio album from Elvis Costello & The Attractions. Originally released January 1979 and produced by Nick Lowe. Key Songs: “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding?”, “Accidents Will Happen”, “Oliver’s Army” and “Green Shirt” Costello was 23 years old when he wrote and recorded the music for the album. After the previous Ryko and Rhino reissues, we now have the complete Armed Forces. This super deluxe edition was personally curated by Elvis Costello. The box fully embraces Barney Bubbles’ epic package art and features 9 pieces of vinyl, 7 custom notebooks containing updated liner notes from Costello (nearly 10,000 words total) and his handwritten lyrics from the era.

The complete Armed Forces explores the album across nine pieces of vinyl, collecting together b-sides, demos, outtakes, alt versions and 23 unreleased live recordings in a lavish box set to provide an illuminating picture of this revered record. Features new 2020 Remaster of original album to match sonic fidelity of 1979 UK pressing. Available November 6th via UMe

“By the time we got to ‘Armed Forces,’ we had the idea we wanted to make an actual studio record,” Costello recalls. “And that was our version of what a studio sounded like. We played cassettes in the station wagon driving around America for the first time, of the same four or five records round and around. Little wonder that became our language for that next record, things that we were listening to in that moment — including ABBA. We put aside the rock ’n’ roll, Small Faces/Rolling Stones references of ‘This Year’s Model’ and into it came the synthesizer, which came from those David Bowie and Iggy Pop records — ‘Station to Station,’ ‘Low,’ ‘Heroes,’ ‘The Idiot,’ ‘Lust for Life.’” Then, considering more stripped-down techno influences, he adds, “I don’t think we thought we were making a Giorgio Moroder record, but we liked the mechanistic sound of Kraftwerk, even if we weren’t going to make records that were that austere. I wanted the emotion in them.”

Guitar music figured in — barely. “Certainly ‘Party Girl’ has a reference to the Beatles, obviously in the arpeggio at the end. There are some Cheap Trick songs that sound like that too, though, and we loved Cheap Trick. So were we ripping off the Beatles, or were we just ‘Hey, Cheap Trick — I like them’?” He hears us chuckle at the idea he might’ve been influenced as much in the moment by Rick Nielsen as George Harrison. “You’re laughing,” he says, “but I’m deadly serious!”

Personally curated by Elvis Costello, The Complete Armed Forces is the definitive statement of the legendary songwriter and musician’s revered and essential 1979 album, featuring the classic hits “Accidents Will Happen,” “Green Shirt,” “Oliver’s Army” and “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding.” Leaving no musical stone unturned, no lyric notebook unrifled through and no detail left out, this new super deluxe edition vinyl box set is a thorough excavation of Costello’s vault from this metamorphic period of his early beginnings, painting as
complete a picture as possible of the events that led to the making of the album, its creation, and the wild success that followed for him, and his band The Attractions, and ignited his career. Armed Forces is explored across nine pieces of vinyl (3 12-inch LPs, 3 10-inch LPs and 3 7-inch singles), including a new 2020 remaster of the album, B-sides, alternate versions and outtakes, demos, and a slew of live recordings – including 23 unreleased live tracks taken from three especially riotous concerts.

 The notebooks offer fascinating insight into Costello’s songwriting process, showing the evolution from idea to finished work, while the liners detail the making of and stories behind the songs. The accompanying photos and memorabilia provide a vivid window into this exciting era. “Most of this record was written in hotel rooms or on a tour bus, scribbled in a notebook which rarely left my side or failing this, from fragments and phrases scrawled on paper cocktail napkins or hotel notepaper,” Costello writes in the liners. The comprehensive set also includes a print of the vintage grenade and gun poster and the four original postcards of each band member. Additionally, Costello commissioned acclaimed artist Todd Alcott to create pulp novel book covers of songs from Armed Forces starring himself as the protagonist in a variety of precarious situations.

Armed Forces has been newly remastered by Costello and mastering engineer Bob Ludwig from the original analogue tapes to match the sonic fidelity of the initial 1979 UK pressing. Striving for the utmost authenticity, they took care to match the feel and intention of the original mastering. “It sounds as close to the way it sounded to us in the studio as we could make it,” Costello recently revealed to MOJO. “That’s a beautiful thing.”

The album’s evolution is documented on the 10-inch, Sketches For Emotional Fascism A.K.A. Armed Forces, which assembles together B-sides, demos and alternate versions, making many of these songs available on vinyl for the first time in decades.

Costello and The Attractions live prowess is fully celebrated with several previously unreleased concert recordings that bookended the recording and release of the album. Along with selections from the band’s legendary 1978 Hollywood High show, the collection shows off what a powerful force of nature the band was with three additional shows including highlights from the notorious Riot At The Regent – Live In Sydney ’78 and a Christmas Eve concert at London’s Dominion Theatre that same year, presented here as Christmas In The Dominion – Live 24th December ’78. “Riot At The Regent is a souvenir from our days Down Under and a second snap-shot of the Attractions in action during six months either side of the recording of Armed Forces,” Costello pens.
Continuing, “We played right up to Christmas Eve and certainly sound full of cheery spirit on ‘Christmas In The Dominion,’ playing a version of ‘No Dancing’ in an apparently spontaneous arrangement that sounds as if we had just heard Blondie’s ‘Heart Of Glass’ on the radio and decided to re-work my song with a similar approach before closing the stand with the same song with which we had opened it: ‘Peace Love & Understanding.’”

Costello’s full set at PinkPop in The Netherlands in 1979, titled Europe ’79 – Live At Pinkpop, is a thrilling concert that showcases the well-oiled band in fine form, exactly one year after their appearance at Hollywood High School, and sees them road testing songs that would end up on their follow up record, 1980’s Get Happy. All of the unreleased live recordings, taken from the original 2” multitracks, have been remixed by Costello’s longtime producer and mixer Sebastian Krys who recently mixed his forthcoming new album, Hey Clockface, and co-produced
his 2018 GRAMMY® Award-winning album, Look Now.

Produced by Nick Lowe, Armed Forces was Elvis Costello’s third album and his second with The Attractions – Steve Nieve (keyboards), Bruce Thomas (bass) and Pete Thomas (drums) – following on from the immense success of their first effort, This Year’s Model. As a result, the songs for the album were written on the road while the band were on a non-stop tour where they were becoming tighter and tighter by the show. Moving away from the punk that inspired the previous record, Armed Forces, as Pitchfork wrote in their nearly perfect review of the album, “is
extravagantly layered with dense instrumentation and rich, effusive textures,” adding “the production works to the record’s advantage, filling the songs out with bombastic power-pop arrangements and giving weight to their urgency.” At just 23 years old, the album cemented Costello’s legacy as one of the most gifted and articulate songwriters of his generation. Since it’s release it has only grown in popularity and stature, continually landing on best albums ever lists and finding
new fans each year.

With The Complete Armed Forces, Costello has provided an exhaustive time capsule that lets us celebrate this timeless album and understand how it came to be.

Elvis Costello  The Attractions

The album receives a brand-new remaster from the original production master tapes with the sonic fidelity matching the original 1979 UK pressing. Along with Live selections from the Hollywood High show, there are 3 more concerts, 23 never released live songs including the full PinkPop Festival 1979 set and highlights from the notorious Riot at The Regent concert and the December 24, 1978 Dominion Theatre.

The set includes the vintage grenade and gun poster and the 4 original postcards of each band member. Costello commissioned acclaimed artist Todd Alcott to recreate pulp novel covers of to represent songs from Armed Forces featuring Costello as the star of the cover in precarious situations.

Back in August, Costello announced his next album ‘Hey Clockface’ which arrives on October 30th via Concord Recordings.

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