At 20 tracks long, this 1980 soul-influenced LP shows how prolific and brilliant Costello was at his peak. High Fidelity, King Horse, Clowntime is Over , and Motel Matches are only some of the classics contained here.
Elvis Costello & the Attractions/Elvis Costello: Steve Nieve (organ); Bruce Thomas (bass guitar); Pete Thomas (drum).
Personnel: Elvis Costello (guitar).
Get Happy!! was born as much from sincere love for soul as it was for Elvis Costello's desire to distance himself from an unfortunate verbal faux pas where he insulted Ray Charles in an attempt to get Stephen Stills' goat. Either way, it resulted in a 20-song blue-eyed soul tour de force, where Costello doesn't just want to prove his love, he wants to prove his knowledge. So, he tries everything, starting with Motown and Northern soul, then touching on smooth uptown ballads and gritty Southern soul, even finding common ground between the two by recasting Sam & Dave's "I Can't Stand Up (For Falling Down)" as a careening stomper. What's remarkable is that this approach dovetails with the pop carnival essayed by Armed Forces, standing as a full-fledged Costello record instead of a genre exercise. As it furiously flits through 20 songs, Costello's cynicisms, rage, humor, and misanthropic sensibility gel remarkably well. Some songs may not quite hit their targets, but that's part of the album's charm -- it moves so fast that its lesser songs rush by on the way to such full-fledged masterpieces as "New Amsterdam," "High Fidelity," and "Riot Act." Get Happy!! bursts with energy and invention, standing as a testament to how Costello, the pop encyclopedia, can reinvent the past in his own image. [The Japanese edition includes bonus material.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine