Elvis Costello & The Attractions: GET HAPPY!! LIVE!! (1979-1981)

This 29-song live mix collects as many “Get Happy” songs as possible (16 of 20), plus contemporary non-album originals and covers that occupy similar territory (e.g., soul, R&B, Sun Studio rock). Four songs appear twice, three in contrasting arrangements, so 25 different songs are represented.

All material is unreleased, as far as I can tell.

This is my favorite era of The Attractions as a crack live combo. They were making up fabulous arrangements (and rearrangements) for dozens of songs at a furious rate, in a seemingly almost co-equal creative partnership. 

The 2003 Rhino reissues of this period’s albums provided a lot of great live bonus tracks, as well as amazing studio outtakes. Nonetheless, I’ve continued to want a big double live LP that captures the thing that these guys were pursuing between “Armed Forces” and “Trust.” 

Many thanks to @tywilc and @louchelarue for helping me find additional sources for this mix. I’ve had a half-baked version of it sitting around for a long time. Thanks also to the band for playing nine “Get Happy” songs in a row in Liverpool in February 1980. That performance makes up a large portion of LP2.

I’ve balanced the volume and made EQ tweaks to tamp down sources with high-end stab, to add a bit more dimension to flatter sources, or to reduce a noisy frequency band somewhere. 

There’s not much “album sequencing” on this mix. I kept songs from the same shows grouped together, so there would be as few sonic change-ups as possible, and then sorted them into two, LP-length sequences, both of which begin with "B-Movie."

All source dates, cities, and guest-musicians are noted in the song title tags.

85-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

LP 1:

  • B-Movie
  • So Young
  • Girls Talk
  • Don’t Look Back
  • Help Me
  • One More Heartache
  • Need Your Love So Bad
  • Little Sister
  • Temptation
  • Secondary Modern
  • Clowntime is Over
  • New Amsterdam
  • High Fidelity
  • Opportunity


  • B-Movie
  • Sad About Girls
  • Big Tears
  • Motel Matches
  • Opportunity
  • I Stand Accused
  • Possession
  • King Horse
  • Girls Talk
  • 5ive Gears in Reverse
  • The Imposter
  • Human Touch
  • High Fidelity
  • I Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down
  • Beaten to the Punch

Sidetrips: Elvis Costello – “Favorite Hour” (1994-2004 mix)

Born four years apart and releasing their first albums one year apart, Prince and Elvis Costello are artists that I also associate as eventually becoming capable of writing and singing nearly any kind of song exceptionally well.  

This mix is not intended to represent everything fantastic about EC 1994-2006 – not by a long shot.

It specifically curates the Costello development that proceeded from such early indicators as “Alison,” “Hoover Factory,” “Almost Blue,” “Boy With a Problem,” “Shipbuilding,” etc., and from Costello’s abiding interest in what can loosely be called American Popular Song. These are songs that might have originated in a musical, sung by a character, later to be picked up by others as a standard. 

This mix is also a celebration of the dynamic duo of Elvis Costello and pianist Steve Nieve, collaborators for nearly two decades by the time of the earliest recordings on this mix. Nieve appears on every, or nearly every song here. 

The selections come from the albums of the period (including expanded edition material), a series of EC & Steve E.P.s, and a little bit from bootlegs. The cover photo is from some years later, but I couldn’t find one that I liked better.

66-minute mp3 mix here

  • All This Useless Beauty
  • Still
  • Favorite Hour (Church Studios version)
  • Poor Fractured Atlas
  • Still Too Soon to Know
  • Just a Memory (live 1996)
  • When Did I Stop Dreaming?
  • That Day is Done
  • When It Sings
  • Let Me Tell You About Her
  • I Want to Vanish
  • World’s Great Optimist (demo)
  • All the Rage (live 1996)
  • Black Sails in the Sunset (live 1996)
  • Can You Be True? (live 2004)
  • Almost Blue (live 2004)
  • Baby Plays Around (live 1999)