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Charted: January 27, 1979

Rating: 4.447 (average of 11 ratings)

Genre: rock > new wave

Quotable: --

Album Tracks:

  1. Senior Service
  2. Oliver’s Army
  3. Big Boys
  4. Green Shirt
  5. Party Girl
  6. Goon Squad
  7. Busy Bodies
  8. Sunday’s Best *
  9. Moods for Moderns
  10. Chemistry Class
  11. Two Little Hitlers
  12. Accidents Will Happen
  13. What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love & Understanding? **
* U.K. version
** U.S. version


sales in U.S. only ˝ million
sales in U.K. only - estimated 300,000
sales in all of Europe as determined by IFPI – click here to go to their site. --
sales worldwide - estimated 800,000


peak on U.S. Billboard album chart 10
peak on U.K. album chart 2

Singles/Hit Songs:

  • Oliver’s Army (2/10/79) #2 UK
  • Accidents Will Happen (5/12/79) #28 UK
  • Green Shirt (5/4/85) #68 UK

Notes: “The Rykodisc/Demon 1993 CD reissue…restored the album to its original British running order, adding the B-side cover of Nick Lowe’s ‘What's So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love and Understanding’ – which had been substituted for ‘Sunday's Best’ on the American version of Armed Forces – as one of the disc's bonus tracks. The CD also includes the B-sides ‘My Funny Valentine,’ ‘Tiny Steps,’ ‘Clean Money,’ the free single ‘Talking in the Dark’/‘Wednesday Week,’ which was included with the initial Radar pressings of Armed Forces, and the Live at Hollywood High EP, which was also included on the first Radar edition” (Erlewine).

The Rhino double-disc released in 2002 added another 9 songs, for a whopping total of 30. Most of the tracks came from an expanded version of the Live at Hollywood High sessions.


Rated one of the top 1000 albums of all time by Dave’s Music Database. Click to learn more.

Armed Forces
Elvis Costello & The Attractions
“After releasing and touring the intense This Year’s Model, Elvis Costello quickly returned to the studio with the Attractions to record his third album, Armed Forces. In contrast to the stripped-down pop and rock of his first two albums, Armed Forces boasted a detailed and textured pop production, but it was hardly lavish. However, the more spacious arrangements – complete with ringing pianos, echoing reverb, layered guitars, and harmonies – accent Costello’s melodies, making the record more accessible than his first two albums” (Erlewine).

“Perversely, while the sound of Costello’s music was becoming more open and welcoming, his songs became more insular and paranoid, even though he cloaked his emotions well. Many of the songs on Armed Forces use politics as a metaphor for personal relationships, particularly fascism, which explains its working title, Emotional Fascism” (Erlewine).

“Occasionally, the lyrics are forced, but the music never is – the album demonstrates the depth of Costello’s compositional talents and how he can move from the hook-laden pop of Accidents Will Happen to the paranoid Goon Squad with ease” (Erlewine).

“Some of the songs, like the light reggae of Two Little Hitlers and the impassioned Party Girl, build on his strengths, while others like the layered Oliver’s Army take Costello into new territories. It’s a dense but accessible pop record and ranks as his third masterpiece in a row” (Erlewine).

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Previous Album: This Year’s Model (1978) Next Album: Get Happy!! (1980)

Last updated March 28, 2008.