The 1983 Punch the Clock album, along with it’s follow up, Goodbye Cruel World, were the first Costello albums that didn’t deliver fully. One had the impression that after the art move of Imperial Bedroom, the decision was made to get commercial. New producers added horns, there were 12″ dance mixes, and to tell the truth a lot of really good songs on both records. But on Boxing Day every year I wake up singing this song, because it’s the only one I know about Boxing Day.
It has a driving beat and driven insistent horns, and it feels like it should get you jumping, but like many of the less successful tunes on this album, there is a lack of warmth and a brittleness to the arrangements. What sounds like it should be rollicking, like Dexy’s Midnight Runners, sounds mechanical and a little heartless. But I hear, with a little more relaxed groove and a suppler beat, a song with a hard groove and an appealing hook. Until they do it that way we have it this way.