Certain Songs #402: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “Party Girl”

Elvis Costello Armed Forces Album: Armed Forces
Year: 1979

By following up the hard-rocking This Years Model with the far more measured Armed Forces, Elvis Costello basically served notice that he was going to take his world-class band any damn place he pleased, and if you didn’t like it, tough.

Of course, no matter what, his songwriting chops and lyrical observations were going to be ace, so while I don’t love Armed Forces as much as the albums that preceded and followed it, that’s on me.

There’s a sub-class of “Certain Songs” which I categorize as “Songs that Steal From The Abbey Road Medley, Specifically That Long Winding Guitar Part At the End Of ‘You Never Give Me Your Money'” and “Party Girl” falls squarely into that category.

Out of all of the things that are described as “Beatlesque,” this one is my favorite.

For most of the song, it’s a big lush ballad, featuring Bruce Thomas walking on top of the song like an army of McCartneys, a dynamite off-kilter piano solo by Steve Nieve and a nice reocurring stop-time part, but it doesn’t truly take off until the last minute, when Elvis sings:

I could give you anything
I would give you anything
I can give you anything but time
Give you anything but tiiiiiiimmmmmmmmmmmme
Give you anything but tiiiiiiimmmmmmmmmmmme
Give you anything but tiiiiiiimmmmmmmmmmmme

And at that point, they lock into the sprialing aforementioned Beatlesque part, with Bruce Thomas’ bass still skidding on top of the melody until the song finally spirals right out of the party.

“Party Girl”

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