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Elvis Costello Announces ‘Complete Armed Forces’ Reissue

Nine-vinyl set contains B-sides, demos, outtakes, alternate versions, over 20 unreleased live recordings, and new liner notes penned by Costello

Elvis Costello

Estate of Keith Morris/Redferns

Elvis Costello will revisit his 1979 album Armed Forces with a huge vinyl box set that boasts scores of B-sides, demos, outtakes, alternate versions, and more than 20 unreleased live recordings.

The Complete Armed Forces contains nine records in total — three 12-inch LPs, three 10-inch LPs, and three 7-inch singles — that include the newly remastered album alongside four live recordings from the era, the outtakes compilation Sketches for Emotional Fascism, and three singles dedicated to the hits “Oliver’s Army,” “Accidents Will Happen,” and Nick Lowe and His Sound’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding?”

The box set — available in black or color 180-gram vinyl formats — also features new liner notes penned by Costello totaling more than 10,000 words and complete with facsimiles of the handwritten lyrics from his personal archive as well as rare photos, memorabilia, and concert ephemera. “Most of this record was written in hotel rooms or on a tour bus, scribbled in a notebook which rarely left my side or failing this, from fragments and phrases scrawled on paper cocktail napkins or hotel notepaper,” Costello writes in the liners.

Ahead of The Complete Armed Forces’ November 6th release, Costello has shared a three-song live EP culled from the set’s three live releases: “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding?”, “Goon Squad,” and “Pump It Up.” The songs were taken from the new live LPs, Christmas in the Dominion – Live 24th December ’78Riot at the Regent – Live In Sydney ’78, and Europe ’79 – Live at Pinkpop.

Riot at the Regent is a souvenir from our days Down Under and a second snapshot of the Attractions in action during six months either side of the recording of Armed Forces,” Costello writes. “We played right up to Christmas Eve and certainly sound full of cheery spirit on Christmas in the Dominion, playing a version of ‘No Dancing’ in an apparently spontaneous arrangement that sounds as if we had just heard Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass’ on the radio and decided to rework my song with a similar approach before closing the stand with the same song with which we had opened it: ‘Peace Love & Understanding.’”

The Complete Armed Forces is available to preorder now ahead of its November 6th release.

The Complete Armed Forces Tracklist

Armed Forces 12” LP
1. Accidents Will Happen
2. Senior Service
3. Oliver’s Army
4. Big Boys
5. Green Shirt
6. Party Girl
1. Goon Squad
2. Busy Bodies
3. Sunday’s Best
4. Moods for Moderns
5. Chemistry Class
6. Two Little Hitlers
7. (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding?

Live at Hollywood High & Elsewhere 1978 12” LP
1. Accidents Will Happen
2. Mystery Dance
3. Goon Squad
4. Party Girl
5. Stranger in the House
1. Alison
2. Lipstick Vogue
3. Watching the Detectives
4. You Belong to Me
5. Chemistry Class (Live at the Warner Theatre, Washington D.C.)

Europe ‘79 – Live At Pinkpop 12” LP
1. Goon Squad
2. B-Movie
3. Green Shirt
4. (I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea
5. Opportunity
6. So Young
7. High Fidelity
1. Lipstick Vogue
2. Watching the Detectives
3. Big Boys
4.  Pump It Up
5. You Belong To Me
6. (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding?

Sketches for Emotional Fascism 10″ LP
1. Clean Money
2. Talking in the Dark
3. Wednesday Week
4. Tiny Steps
1. Crawling to the U.S.A.
2. Big Boys (Alternate Version)
3. Green Shirt (Demo Version)
4. My Funny Valentine

Riot At The Regent – Live In Sydney ’78 10” LP
1. Oliver’s Army
2. Waiting for the End of the World
3. Big Boys
1. This Year’s Girl
2. You Belong to Me
3. Pump It Up

Christmas In The Dominion – Live 24th December ’78 10” LP
1. (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes
2. No Dancing
1. I Stand Accused
2. (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding?

“Oliver’s Army” 7′′
1. Oliver’s Army
Side B
1. Big Boys (Demo)

“Accidents Will Happen” 7”
1. Accidents Will Happen
Side B
1. Busy Bodies (Alternate)

Nick Lowe & His Sound – “American Squirm” 7′′
Side A
1. American Squirm
Side B
2. (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding?

From Rolling Stone US