1980 Albums 20-11 Bruce Thomas Elvis Costello and The Attractions Get Happy!! High Fidelity Motown homage My Dad New Wave Music Pete Thomas Steve Nieve

#18: “Get Happy!!,” by Elvis Costello and The Attractions.


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Get Pleased!! Elvis Costello and The Points of interest.
1980, Columbia Data. Producer: Nick Lowe.
Bought, 1998. (Rykodisc Reissue.)

IN A NUTSHELL: Get Glad!!, by Elvis Costello and The Points of interest, is jam-packed with 20 songs that sound like 60s Motown and Stax data filtered by means of white British punks. The band is superheated, its muscular rhythms pumping behind Costello’s deft wordplay. Bassist Bruce Thomas is a standout, however everybody contributes to the celebration vibe. And even when the lyrics get downhearted, you’ll nonetheless Get Comfortable!!

NOTE: The setup – under the road ↓ – is perhaps the most effective half … Or skip proper to the album dialogue.

My dad (r.) and me (l.) ca. 1969.

My dad died earlier this month. He was 78. He hadn’t been nicely for a number of years, and his previous couple of years he spent trapped: confined, bodily, to a wheelchair; and wandering, mentally, by means of the labyrinthine horrors of dementia. His demise was seen by all of my relations as a blessing, as one thing that I assumed ought to have rightfully taken place years earlier, one thing he ought to have been in a position to decide on for himself on the onset of his afflictions. Nevertheless, this was to not be the case.

He was a person from a bygone period. He was a toddler of the 40s, despite the fact that he got here of age within the American Rock ‘n Roll 50s. He would have been a contemporary of Richie and Fonzie and the rest of the gang down at Arnold’s Drive-In, however he was not a Rock ‘n Roll guy. Sure, he loved fixing up old cars, the classic American 50s teen boy pastime, but his music was the swingin’ Huge Band sounds of his youth: Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey. (Equally, I clung to the 70s Basic Rock sounds once I was a teen, ignoring the brand new stuff round me.) Even in his adolescence, he didn’t essentially go together with the gang.

The 1950s and 60s have been some occasions of unimaginable industrial and technological developments. It was a time of “better living through chemistry,” when science was going to save lots of the “free world” from the commies, JFK promised a “New Frontier,” and the nation was nonetheless unaware of a few of the unintended penalties of such developments: thalidomide infants, dioxin poisoning, lung cancer1.

However regardless of the developments of the day, my dad wasn’t terribly involved with maintaining with the newest developments. He didn’t want one of the best Hello-Fi know-how, or the newest in automotive developments to be glad together with his life. He had a self-directed outlook, a kind of self-possession that allowed him to make selections with few exterior influences. In fact, this led to some fallacious selections, and it didn’t diminish the nervousness and guilt he felt over his selections after the very fact (he was the king of the land of “I Should’ve”). However there was one thing to be stated for a person who acknowledged the inherent bullshit of the marketer’s “New and Improved!” sloganeering, and acknowledged, too, that so many individuals round him simply allowed that messaging to permeate all points of their lives. He was a skeptic of “New and Improved,” whether or not it was technological, cultural, societal or business.

However he was not a thickheaded dope who would cling to his beliefs within the face of proof on the contrary. He was a sensible man. Additionally, he was very attuned to the individuals round him. The well-being of his family members and the emotions of these round him – whether or not he knew them or not – have been essential. So whereas he might have been nostalgic for the previous methods, he didn’t worth the previous over information or humanity.

Positive, he might have griped within the 70s and 80s concerning the pointlessness of those new computer systems and computerized machines, however as a software and die maker, when he obtained to make use of his first computer-aided machine (the one with the instruction course in Chicago, for which he needed to take his first airplane journey ever, as a 37 yr previous) he acknowledged its worth and acknowledged its benefits over the previous machines. And despite the fact that he’d expressed the standard late-20th-century, straight, middle-American homophobia into his maturity, when he noticed his personal family members fall in love he warmly welcomed their sweethearts into his residence and life no matter their gender and orientation. He was extra snug opening his coronary heart by reassessing his beliefs than utilizing them to construct a fortress round it.

Through the years I heard him reassess his considering on little issues, like Thai meals, and massive issues, like race and gender. However at no time was I extra conscious of his means to re-examine his beliefs and think about a unique perspective than when my spouse was anticipating our first youngster, my dad’s first grandchild. I lived distant from my mother and father on the time, however once I’d name and inform him about all of the late-90s preparations we have been making – attending delivery courses, hiring a doula, getting a gliding rocking chair with a gliding footrest – he appeared excited about all of it; this even though he’d matured within the Mad Males period of American males, when there have been many, many points about which a person was not anticipated to care, a type of being childbirth.

My dad acquired telephone calls at work to let him know his youngsters had been delivered, simply as he may need been notified that a new bathtub and sink had arrived at residence. The distinction can be that he’d be anticipated to work arduous to transform the toilet when he obtained house, whereas the youngsters have been to be virtually solely his spouse’s concern, no less than till they went to high school. However once I mentioned my very own actions across the upcoming delivery, he by no means mocked me, by no means stated I used to be silly, and by no means expressed a want for a bygone period of indifference and inaction to return. Once I advised him concerning the expertise of watching my baby being born, he did say he was glad he didn’t see his personal youngsters’ births, but in addition questioned why he didn’t select to be on the hospital.

After my child’s arrival, when my mother and father took a cross-country flight to go to their new grandson – one thing I used to be just a little stunned they’d carried out – and he noticed me altering diapers, giving bottles, and fussing over the child’s cries and temperature and food plan and routine, and when he heard and noticed me exchanging smiles and child speak and laughter with my toddler, he said2 “Boy, things sure are different for dads nowadays.”

Joyful Grandpa, pleased grandson, 1999.

I stated, “I’ll bet you’re glad you didn’t have to do all this stuff with your kids.”

To which he replied, with a little bit of a tragic smile, “It would have been okay. I’d have done it.”

He didn’t should say extra – we each knew what he meant. It was basic dad. If he noticed the “new ways” have been useful and helpful, he’d admit it – in only a few phrases.

I’m considering of my dad lately as a result of his physique just lately left us3. And through my expertise as a brand new dad, from getting ready for my first baby via childbirth and into my new child’s first yr of life, the soundtrack to all of it was Get Joyful!!, by Elvis Costello and The Points of interest. I’m positive my dad heard it when he came over. I’ve written earlier than, a time or two, about my love of Elvis Costello. I spent the 90s diving into his complete catalogue, and by 1998 Get Joyful!! was cued up.

Elvis is likely one of the most good songwriters for my style in music. He’s near (however clearly well-behind) Lennon & McCartney, on a par with XTC’s Andy Partridge, The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde and Steely Dan’s Becker & Fagan, and a couple of others4. They’re all artists who write catchy melodies, have terrific lyrics and can pull it off whereas getting super-energetic. (Properly, apart from Becker & Fagan, who are likely to get super-jazzy as an alternative of super-energetic.)

And his work together with his most well-known backing band, The Points of interest, is a few of my favourite recorded music. Every of The Points of interest brings a method and vigor to the songs that go well with Costello’s twitchy melodies and head-cold singing type completely. By the late 90s I used to be devouring Elvis, and whereas my spouse was pregnant the songs on this report resonated with me. To begin with, the album title offered an excellent reminder to me every time the state of affairs felt overwhelming or worrisome or scary that the most important feeling I held was considered one of happiness. Secondly, the songs themselves are virtually completely upbeat, danceable, energetic songs which might be onerous to listen to with out smiling. Thirdly, the lyrical content material typically related with me, even when the songs clearly weren’t meant to be about new households and future dads.

For instance, “Opportunity” is clearly not concerning the alternative inherent in beginning a household, however the first phrase is “born,” and the primary verse does converse of household …

As with many EC lyrics, I don’t know precisely what they imply, however they persist with me nonetheless. His intelligent wordplay and financial system of phrases (“The chairman of the boredom is a compliment collector/I’d like to be his funeral director”) are hanging, even once they’re obtuse. Musically, the music encapsulates what Get Joyful!! is all about: organ and bass and drums. Keyboardist Steve Nieve boops and beeps whereas bassist Bruce Thomas performs a clear, bouncing line all through. Together with drummer Pete Thomas, The Points of interest actually carry the load on this document, with Costello’s guitar solely making cameo appearances – some good strumming within the choruses, just a little twist through the fade out.

I really like “Opportunity” for its melody, its sound, Costello’s voice – and additionally my reminiscences of impending fatherhood. However it’s one of many extra mellow tracks on this album of 20 tracks, (which Elvis promoted in America with a reasonably humorous TV business.) The document in full is an upbeat salute to 60s Motown and Stax data, with the band rushing forward, full-tilt on catchy, danceable numbers just like the opening monitor, “Love For Tender.”

Bruce Thomas is an outstanding bassist, and as a bass-playing hack myself, I discover him astonishing. He pumps these songs vigorous, like at zero:40, his quick strolling bass line within the pre-chorus. This track makes use of Costello’s appreciable metaphorical expertise to place himself because the banker of affection to somebody who gained’t make a withdraw. I really like the backing vocals, which Elvis supplies himself, behind the refrain, and I really like the power of your complete track, up by means of the four-note finale. It’s clearly an homage to 60s soul, and songs like “5ive Gears in Reverse,” and “I Stand Accused” additionally carry the Stax/Motown torch. (The latter is definitely a 60s British Invasion track that the band perks up, with Elvis coolly spelling out the title on the very finish.)

One other soul-sounding deal with is the fantastic “Temptation,” whirling organ and all.

This track truly options a few of Elvis’s delicate guitar work, however as soon as once more the star is the backing band. Nieve’s organ, Bruce Thomas’s Duck Dunn-esque bass, Pete Thomas’s ahead-of-the-beat drumming … The lyrics are simple temptation-based. It’s a dance-fest of a track, identical to the band’s livid transforming of an previous Sam & Dave sluggish quantity, “I Can’t Stand Up (For Falling Down).” The album is chock-full of hyper power, present in songs just like the straight forward stomp of numbers like “Beaten to the Punch,” and “The Imposter.” (The band might undoubtedly pull off these numbers stay, too!)

Elvis and the band do sluggish issues down now and then, and my favourite of those mellower items is the atmospheric one-man-band piece “New Amsterdam.”

Elvis performs all of the devices on this wonderful waltz, keenly strumming his acoustic guitar and including some sturdy bass strains, and shows some intelligent wordplay as properly. It’s one other track about his troublesome love life, through which he wonders if he can “step on the brakes to get out of her clutches.” His creative wordsmithing can also be on show within the ballad “Motel Matches,” during which Elvis’s woman pal’s duplicity, and presumably, affections are given away “like motel matches.” “Secondary Modern” has maybe Elvis’s strongest vocal efficiency. And within the album nearer “Riot Act,” Elvis defends himself towards an unwarranted onslaught from what he claims was a slip of the tongue.

These sluggish songs are all terrific, nevertheless it’s the energetic, upbeat ones I’m drawn to, notably these that includes Bruce Thomas’s bass, reminiscent of “B Movie.”

The music has a bizarre, echoing drum sound, has a bit out of time piece simply after every verse, and one can truly hear just a little guitar all through. Bruce’s bass line retains the track bouncing alongside, and the lyrics are normal Elvis complaints. That is one of some songs that stretch out the album’s musical theme, straying from the 60s R&B template. One other is the ska song5 “Human Touch,” a plea to flee the fashionable world that “looks like luxury and feels like a disease.” “Possession“, with its clever couplet “You lack lust/ you’re so lackluster,” and “Black & White World,” which the band performed on the BBC, the place pianist Steve Nieve was pressured to fake to play guitar, are a pair super-catchy mid-tempo songs.

However it’s the upbeat, 60s stuff I actually, actually love – even once I don’t know what they imply. For instance, “King Horse.”

It opens with a regal piano riff, then options Elvis singing alongside to Bruce’s bass. There are terrific concord vocals, offered by Elvis himself, all through. The pressure builds by means of every verse, then is launched with every refrain by Pete’s introductory snare roll. The lyrics are a pastiche of phrases round relationships that, to be trustworthy, sound nice however make no sense to me. However he clearly is aware of we’re all King Horse. At the least the lyrics to “Clowntime Is Over” make sense, even when the tempo change all through the music doesn’t.

“Men Called Uncle” has a looping melody, with a plea to a lady to surrender the older males in her life.

It opens with an awesome piano, and Bruce’s bass once more retains the track pumping alongside. The songs on this album simply make me need to dance and sing alongside. I typically take heed to the SiriusXM 60s soul station, listening for nice numbers that I’ve by no means heard earlier than. That’s what this album is like: it’s one catchy, bouncing, soulful music after the subsequent.

My favourite music on Get Completely happy!! is “High Fidelity,” a music I used to be SHOCKED was not included within the soundtrack to the 2000 movie of the identical name6.

Elvis’s voice is scratchy and torn, sounding like the top of an extended night time spent on stage, howling out hit after hit. The refrain has nice concord vocals, the lyrics

Me and my dad. September 2018.

are once more a few lady who carried out him fallacious; he’s questioning if her new lover expects Excessive Constancy, as he as soon as did. It’s enjoyable and catchy and epitomizes the whole lot I really like concerning the report.

Get Completely satisfied!! is an album through which Elvis Costello and The Points of interest tried one thing new, moved away from the brand new wave, post-punk sound and embraced a special approach of creating songs. It labored completely. People are at their greatest once they study to rethink their beliefs and actions, to peek into what else is on the market and incorporate it. That is what my dad did, and it’s one of many issues I’ll miss about him. However Get Completely happy!! will all the time remind me of him.

Monitor Itemizing:
“Love for Tender”
“The Imposter”
“Secondary Modern”
“King Horse”
“Men Called Uncle”
“Clowntime Is Over”
“New Amsterdam”
“High Fidelity”
“I Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down”
“Black & White World”
“5ive Gears in Reverse”
“B Movie”
“Motel Matches”
“Human Touch”
“Beaten to the Punch”
“I Stand Accused”
“Riot Act”