Elvis Costello and the Attractions

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Get Happy!!
Elvis Costello - Get Happy!!.jpg
Studio album by Elvis Costello and the Attractions
Released 15 February 1980
Recorded October 1979
Genre New Wave, 2 Tone, Ska, soul
Length 48:08
Label F-Beat Records UK
Columbia US
Demon/Rykodisc (29 April 1994 Reissue)
Rhino (9 September 2003 Reissue)
Hip O (1 May 2007 Reissue)
Producer Nick Lowe
Elvis Costello and the Attractions chronology
Armed Forces
Get Happy!!
Taking Liberties

  The fourth album by Elvis Costello, his third with the Attractions, "Get Happy!!" is notable for being a dramatic break in tone from Costello's three previous albums, and for being heavily influenced by R&B, ska and soul music. The cover art was intentionally designed to have a "retro" feel, to look like the cover of an old LP with ring wear on both front and back.

It was placed at No. 11 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 greatest albums of the 1980s.


The band had played some of the songs during the "Armed Forces Tour" and had rehearsed them for the record, but were dissatisfied with the sound, feeling it was too "new wave." (Some of the original versions can be found on disc 2 of the Rhino release.) They then went back and re-arranged many of the songs using an R&B sound. On their US tours, Costello had been able to find a number of R&B records of his favourite artists and having been listening to them during the rehearsals, decided to emulate the feel of those songs.

The band recorded the album at Wisseloord Studios in Hilversum, Netherlands, in an attempt to isolate themselves from distractions, but they were still able to keep themselves drunk during the recording sessions. The exception to this was "New Amsterdam," which was recorded solo by Costello in a small studio in Pimlico.

With twenty songs on the original album, the vinyl cutting and pressing process had to be precise to fit all of them on the two sides of the record. A commercial for the album, added as a hidden track on the Rhino Records remaster, jokes about the album's length and number of songs.

Packaging and artwork

The Get Happy!! sleeve was designed by F-Beat art director Barney Bubbles, who had worked with Costello at Stiff and Radar. He does not receive a credit in line with his insistence on anonymity.

The original album sleeve reversed the two sides; side one began with "I Can't Stand Up for Falling Down" (the current single) and ended with "Riot Act". The second side started with "Love for Tender" and ended with "High Fidelity". Only on the record labels themselves was the true running order revealed.

Original vinyl release

The original release of the album was on 12-inch vinyl and cassette. Get Happy's producer, Nick Lowe, mentions this issue on the album's back cover:


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars
Robert Christgau B
Rolling Stone (favorable)
Rolling Stone Album Guide 4.5/5 stars
Smash Hits 7/10
Stylus Magazine (favorable)

Although the album received generally positive reviews upon its release, praise wasn't as unconditional as it had been for its predecessors. Rolling Stone's original review stated that "if the new album is hard to get into, it's also difficult to ignore" but a later review incorporated into its album guide gave it 4.5/5 stars, calling it a "tour de force". Red Starr, writing in Smash Hits, said the album was "short on memorable songs" but added that "repeated plays reveal hidden depths". Robert Christgau gave it a B, saying that there were "lotsa duds". In the Village Voice's annual Pazz and Jopp music critics' poll, the album placed 7th overall for 1980, beating out such better selling releases as Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall", Stevie Wonder's "Hotter than July" and Pete Townshends's "Empty Glass".

In 1989, Rolling Stone placed it at No. 11 on its list of the 100 best albums of the 1980s. And, in 2002 Pitchfork placed it at No. 26 on its own list of the 100 best albums of the 1980s. In 2012, Slant Magazine listed the album at No. 68 on its list of "Best Albums of the 1980s".

Track listing

All songs written by Elvis Costello unless otherwise indicated.

Side one

  1. "Love for Tender" – 1:57
  2. "Opportunity" – 3:13
  3. "The Imposter" – 1:58
  4. "Secondary Modern" – 1:58
  5. "King Horse" – 3:01
  6. "Possession" – 2:03
  7. "Men Called Uncle" – 2:17
  8. "Clowntime Is Over" – 2:59
  9. "New Amsterdam" – 2:12
  10. "High Fidelity" – 2:28

Side two

  1. "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down" (Homer Banks, Allen Jones) – 2:06
  2. "Black & White World" – 1:56
  3. "5ive Gears in Reverse" – 2:38
  4. "B Movie" – 2:04
  5. "Motel Matches" – 2:30
  6. "Human Touch" – 2:30
  7. "Beaten to the Punch" – 1:49
  8. "Temptation" – 2:33
  9. "I Stand Accused" (Tony Colton, Ray Smith) – 2:21
  10. "Riot Act" – 3:35


  • Elvis Costello – vocals, guitar, organ on "Possession", all instruments on "New Amsterdam"
  • Steve Nieve – piano, organ
  • Bruce Thomas – bass, harmonica on "I Stand Accused"
  • Pete Thomas – drums


Chart (1980) Position
UK Albums Chart 33


Region Certification Sales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada) Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI) Gold 100,000^


Elvis Costello and the Attractions - Get Happy!

UK F-Beat XX LP1 stereo (1980)

Album produced by Nick Lowe.

The vinyl record has remained in excellent condition.

Audio quality is clear and strong throughout.

Both record centre labels are clean and unmarked.

The albums laminated cover is in excellent condition, displaying only minor signs of wear.

The original inner sleeve is excellently presented.

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