Elvis Costello and the Attractions’ Get Happy!! TV Commercial

During the American concert tour for Armed Forces in April 1979, Costello engaged in a drunken argument with Stephen Stills and Bonnie Bramlett in a Columbus, Ohio, Holiday Inn hotel bar, during which Costello referred to James Brown as a “jive-arsed nigger,” then upped the ante by pronouncing Ray Charles a “blind, ignorant nigger.” Costello apologised at a New York City press conference a few days later, claiming that he had been drunk and had been attempting to be obnoxious in order to bring the conversation to a swift conclusion, not anticipating that Bramlett would bring his comments to the press.

It has been suggested that the R&B influence on the album was an attempt to atone for his comments, but as Costello writes in the liner notes for the 2002 Rhino version:

“It might have been tempting to claim that I had some noble motive in basing this record on the music that I had admired and learned from prior to my brush with infamy. But if I was trying to pay respects and make such amends, I doubt if pride would have allowed me to express that thought after I had made my rather contrived explanation… I simply went back to work and relied on instinct, curiosity, and enduring musical passions.”