Book No. 5: Elvis Costello’s Armed Forces by Franklin Bruno (33 1/3)
In preparing myself to start working on my book, I thought it best to read a few more 33 1/3 titles, and these two, which I’d been wanting to read, seemed the most promising choices. I read Forever Changes back around the end of January/early February and Armed Forces through the middle of February, so my impressions are a bit duller than they were when I had just finished the books.
Hultkrans’s book is much more enjoyable than Barney Hoskins’s Arthur Lee book, which I read last year, although he uses Hoskins as a source. Hultkrans is mainly concerned with the voice of Forever Changes, a voice he calls prophetic in the Old Testament sense. I’m a little distanced from my initial impressions now, but I have a new, greater appreciation for the lyrics of the album, which I had already thought fantastic. “Live and Let Live,” in particular, sounds even more like the end of the world, and maybe it is.
Bruno’s book doesn’t seem to have a central thesis about the album, but is full of fascinating little details and detours (rather like Bruno’s music, I think) and similarly heightened my appreciation for an album already near the top of my personal pantheon. One of my brother music geeks described this one as the greatest 33 1/3 book thus far. I don’t think I’m willing to go that far, but it’s certainly a damn sight better than the one on The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, and definitely in my top rung.