Elvis Costello and the Attractions : 5ive Gears in Reverse
On February 15, 1980 Elvis Costello and the Attractions released Get Happy!!, a 20 track album inspired by 60's soul music that arrived nine months after Costello called Ray Charles a "blind, ignorant nigger" in a hotel bar argument with Stephen Stills and Bonnie Bramlett. Though critics were quick to point out the timing, Costello said in the liner notes of the 2003 version of Get Happy!! the album is no act of contrition:
Among Costello's enduring musical passions is American soul music. Before the band began recording in The Netherlands, he wanted to abandon the "new wave" sound for something else: Again from his liner notes:
Fans can play spot the influences are just let Costello spell them out:
Only "New Amsterdam" broke away from the formula.
I had a bit of a Twitter back and forth with Bebe Buell and came away with the impression that there are a few songs about her affair with Costello. There is certainly a female object of obsession that keeps popping up in these songs.
Of course- there are so many rumors out there- including some started by EC himself. I NEVER thought or claimed that any of the songs on This Year's Model or Armed Forces held me as the subject. Anything after that? All bets are off! EC is famous for denying!
40 Year Itch:
Oh! I’m going to listen to Get Happy right now!!!
Now you're on the right path!
The tightly worked pop-song structures on Get Happy!! are built around one instrumental flourish after another, with no context to sustain them. Yet the effect isn’t slick. Instead, this method makes the music sound raw, urgent and all the more driven, because there’s nothing underneath it. Costello doesn’t give himself time to linger over any of these numbers: they’re jotted down in haste, each of them no more than just another fix on his obsession. If this one doesn’t capture her, he figures, maybe the next one will. He is, of course, fortunate in having a band that not only can keep up with him but give him a run for his money. The Attractions were one of the best backup groups in the world on This Year’s Model, and since then they’ve gotten better.
In its year-end list, the NME named Get Happy!! the second best album of 1980, while the album placed seventh on The Village Voice's annual Pazz and Jop music critics' poll