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Elvis Costello Reissues
My Aim Is True
This Year's Model
Armed Forces
Get Happy!!
Trust
Almost Blue
Imperial Bedroom
Punch The Clock
Goodbye Cruel World
King Of America
Blood & Chocolate
Spike
Mighty Like A Rose
The Juliet Letters
Brutal Youth
All This Useless Beauty

Painted From Memory
When I Was Cruel
North
The Delivery Man
The River In Reverse
Momofuku


Armed Forces
ARMED FORCES
Original album released 1979

Rykodisc version released 1993
Rhino version released 2002

(Click on links above for desired tracklist.)

DISC 1 (40:12)
Armed Forces:
  1. Accidents Will Happen (2:59)
  2. Senior Service (2:16)
  3. Oliver's Army (2:57)
  4. Big Boys (2:54)
  5. Green Shirt (2:41)
  6. Party Girl (3:20)
  7. Goon Squad (3:14)
  8. Busy Bodies (3:33)
  9. Sunday's Best (3:21)
  10. Moods For Moderns (2:48)
  11. Chemistry Class (2:54)
  12. Two Little Hitlers (3:10)
  13. (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding? (3:32)
DISC 2 (52:03)
Bonus Disc:
  1. Tiny Steps (2:41)
  2. Busy Bodies (alternate version) (3:47)
  3. Talking In The Dark (1:55)
  4. Big Boys (alternate version) (2:54)
  5. Clean Money (1:57)
  6. Wednesday Week (2:03)
  7. My Funny Valentine (1:28)
  8. Accidents Will Happen (live) (3:18)
  9. Mystery Dance (live) (2:01)
  10. Goon Squad (live) (3:42)
  11. Party Girl (live) (3:19)
  12. Stranger In The House (live) (3:52)
  13. Alison (live) (3:08)
  14. Lipstick Vogue (live) (4:26)
  15. Watching The Detectives (live) (5:51)
  16. You Belong To Me (live) (2:38)
  17. Chemistry Class (live) (2:34)

Ryko's 1993 reissue of Armed Forces was unique to that series in that the bonus material included no unreleased recordings whatsoever: just five B-sides previously collected on Taking Liberties/Ten Bloody Marys plus the three songs from the Live At Hollywood High EP that had been included with the initial vinyl release of Armed Forces.

Rhino's 2002 edition seems to confirm the assumption that little unreleased material exists. Despite offering nine new tracks, there are no real surprises: alternate versions of two songs from the album and seven live recordings. Nevertheless, a lineup that might look a bit weak on paper (especially for hardcore fans) is in many ways one of the most listenable bonus discs. While other bonus discs combine polished studio recordings with rough runthroughs, low-fidelity home demos, and abandoned ideas, the Armed Forces bonus disc maintains a higher quality throughout. All of the studio recordings date from the main album sessions at Eden Studios in August and September 1978, and with the possible exception of the ramshackle "Clean Money," they are nearly good enough to have made the original album. The live material nicely showcases Elvis and the Attractions at an early peak.

REISSUE BONUS TRACKS

TINY STEPS (2:41) RYKO RHINO
This was probably recorded fairly early in the August-September 1978 recording sessions for Armed Forces, since it was completed in time to be released as the B-side of "Radio, Radio" in October 1978. It was later included on Taking Liberties, Ten Bloody Marys, the CD version of Girls + Girls = $ & Girls, and Hip-O's deluxe edition of This Year's Model.

BUSY BODIES (Alternate Version) (3:47) RHINO
BIG BOYS (Alternate Version)
(2:54) RHINO
Although they lack the final polish of the album versions, there is little difference in quality between these alternates (from August and September 1978, respectively) and the album takes.

TALKING IN THE DARK (1:55) RYKO RHINO
WEDNESDAY WEEK
(2:03) RYKO RHINO
These Armed Forces outtakes were issued together on a free single distributed at a series of concerts in December 1978 and January 1979. Both tracks later saw wider release on the B-side of "Accidents Will Happen" before being collected on Taking Liberties and Ten Bloody Marys. "Talking In The Dark" was also one of the more surprising choices on 1999's The Very Best Of Elvis Costello.

CLEAN MONEY (1:57) RYKO RHINO
Originally conceived as the opening track on Armed Forces, "Clean Money" instead turned up as the opening track on Taking Liberties and Ten Bloody Marys and on the B-side of "Clubland" soon after. Dave Edmunds and the Attractions feature on backing vocals.

MY FUNNY VALENTINE (1:28) RYKO RHINO
Released in February 1979 as the B-side of "Oliver's Army" in the UK and on a free single given away at a Valentine's Day concert in the US, this has the distinction of being the first truly solo Elvis Costello recording released to the public. It was subsequently included on Taking Liberties, Ten Bloody Marys, and The Very Best Of Elvis Costello, among other places.

Live at Hollywood High, Los Angeles, CA, June 4, 1978
ACCIDENTS WILL HAPPEN (3:18) RYKO RHINO
MYSTERY DANCE (2:01) RHINO
GOON SQUAD (3:42) RHINO
PARTY GIRL (3:19) RHINO
STRANGER IN THE HOUSE (3:52) RHINO
ALISON (3:08) RYKO RHINO
LIPSTICK VOGUE (4:26) RHINO
WATCHING THE DETECTIVES (5:51) RYKO RHINO
YOU BELONG TO ME (2:38) RHINO
The original Live At Hollywood High EP had three songs — "Accidents Will Happen," "Alison," and "Watching The Detectives" — and was included as a freebie with the initial release of Armed Forces in 1979. The Ryko CD included the original three songs just as they were presented on the EP, while the Rhino CD added six more songs from the concert. The band's tendency to play several songs in a row without pausing between proved slightly problematic when the original Live At Hollywood High EP was assembled. As each song fades out (on both the EP and the Ryko CD), the start of another song can be heard: "Accidents Will Happen" features the opening seconds of "Mystery Dance," "Alison" includes a bit of "Lipstick Vogue," and "Watching The Detectives" leads into the beginning of "Pump It Up." The Rhino CD includes the complete performances of "Mystery Dance" and "Lipstick Vogue," but the brief snippet of "Pump It Up" is missing entirely, as "Watching The Detectives" leads into "You Belong To Me." (In fact, "You Belong To Me" is what followed "Watching The Detectives" at the original concert. The snippet of "Pump It Up" was edited in from another portion of the show.) The complete Hollywood High show was released in 2010. (See the Live At Hollywood High page.)

CHEMISTRY CLASS (Live, Washington, Feb. 28, 1978) (2:34) RHINO
Although the Rhino CD was its first official release, the early solo performance of "Chemistry Class" was included on one of the earliest Elvis Costello bootlegs, Elvis Goes To Washington & Dave Edmunds & Rockpile Don't, where it was listed under the bootlegger's guess at the title, "Final Solution." The complete Washington concert was released in 2008 on Hip-O's deluxe This Year's Model.

NOT ON THE REISSUES (BUT OFFICIALLY RELEASED)

GREEN SHIRT (Extended Remix)
    ["Green Shirt" 12-inch single]
In 1985, the original version of "Green Shirt" was included on the UK compilation The Man (The Best Of Elvis Costello) and released as a single for the first time. The 12-inch single included an exclusive remix by Colin Fairley. Since this single was inexplicably excluded from the Singles CD box sets, it remains available only on vinyl.

NOT ON THE REISSUES (UNRELEASED)

THAT'S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR (Demo)
No relation to the 1985 Dionne Warwick hit, "That's What Friends Are For" was written by Elvis and recorded by Georgie Fame. Elvis' guitar/vocal demo circulates among collectors and was probably recorded around the time of Armed Forces.

ADDITIONAL NOTES

Like My Aim Is True and This Year's Model, the original release of Armed Forces in 1979 had slightly different track listings in the UK and the US, with "Sunday's Best" appearing only on the UK version and "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding" appearing only on the US version. Most CD reissues, including the Ryko and Rhino releases, includes both tracks.

The two shows which immediately preceded the Hollywood High show in Long Beach (June 1) and Santa Barbara (June 2) were also professionally recorded. It is unclear whether any of this material was considered for official release.

When the "20th anniversary edition" of My Aim Is True was briefly considered for release in 1997, there was also talk of a similar deluxe edition of Armed Forces. Given the seemingly small selection of available bonus material, this was a curious choice. No other details ever surfaced about the abandoned project, so it remains a mystery whether anything was under consideration beyond what eventually turned up on Rhino's bonus disc.


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