Elvis Costello arrived as a sneering spitfire, the smartest and meanest singer/songwriter in the first wave of 1970s British punk backed by the Attractions, a band who could match his ferocity. Soon, Costello galloped away from the loud, fast rules of punk, demonstrating his musical and verbal facility with Armed Forces, a 1979 album that contained "Oliver's Army," "Accidents Will Happen," and his cover of Nick Lowe's "(What's So Funny About) Peace, Love and Understanding," a trio of singles that turned into new wave standards. Such rapid musical evolution and switches in style became the rule in Costello's career, as he amassed a catalog that seemed to touch upon every conceivable genre of popular music. Many of his more esoteric projects arrived in his middle age and beyond, after he'd cultivated a loyal audience in the '80s through a ...
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