Thursday, March 8, 2012

Spinning Songbook Countdown: Get Happy!!

This is the album that makes me wish bassist Bruce Thomas continued to make records with Elvis Costello. He is all over Get Happy!!, expertly playing a bass guitar that seems to have an infinite amount of strings. It's hard not see why his role was so prominent in this album when you realize that it was influenced by the Stax sound of Booker T and the MGs along with other classic soul records Costello picked up while touring in the U.S. Those albums are all about bass and keyboards and while Steve Nieve perfectly hits the right notes, Thomas' bass stands out throughout the albums' 20 tracks.

Now that's another great thing to get happy about, a 12-inch slab of vinyl with 10 tracks per side. Some pressings even included a notice assuring the listener that the production was still top notch despite the massive track list. Released in 1980, Get Happy!! was another hit for Costello and signaled a further departure from the Punk wave he rode through the late '70s. Each song goes by fairly quickly nearly all are memorable, from the full blown attacks on High Fidelity and King Horse to the slower, darker tunes like Clowntime is Over and Riot Act.

For me, Get Happy!! is a joy to listen regardless of your state of mind. The title perfectly captures what these songs do when you're singing along to them in your car, even the ones like Motel Matches - a sad, country-tinged tune that always breaks my heart. Sometimes singing along to someone else's heartbreak can make you feel better about your own.

Classics: Opportunity, Possession, Clowntime is Over, New Amsterdam, High Fidelity, I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down, Motel Matches, Temptation, Riot Act

Songs I'd Like to Hear Live: King Horse, Possession, I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down ( the slow version,) Black and White World, Motel Matches, I Stand Accused

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