[13] Elvis Costello & The Attractions, ‘Oliver’s Army’

He passed me by, really, only bleeping on my ’80s chart-kid radar with ‘Everyday I Write The Book’, and as The Imposter on ‘Pills And Soap’. That assumed name even got my goat as an eleven-year-old, Lord knows why. I didn’t like him. Something impelled me to buy Spike and Mighty Like A Rose at the turn of the decade, but I’d missed Blood And Chocolate, Imperial Bedroom, all the classic capers. Picked up My Aim Is True for a couple of quid a few years back, but I was The Imposter now.

Everyone knew ‘Oliver’s Army’, though. That earworm of a chorus and those ‘Dancing Queen’ fills. It’s a song that bears close listening as well, with the odd uncomfortable lyric and a whole heap of didactic about our mercenary, careless, imperial doings. Elvis has never been one to let you off lightly – I know now – but lately he’s only demonstrated this with unappealing music. And that old sneer’s a shock to hear on the new Jenny Lewis album.

The tumbling tune is an instant hit with Junior, who enjoys some prominent ivory-tinkling. I mime a bit of piano and confidently tell her, “That’s Steve Nieve.” She’s quick to fire back, “Who’s playing guitar?” Junior’s mum laughs. She’s got me. “Er… – oh, it’s Elvis Costello.” Phew.

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