The best lyrics I've ever written… Elvis Costello.The Falklands War started on 2 April 1982 with the Argentine occupation of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, and ended with the Argentine surrender on 14 June 1982. The conflict was the result of a protracted wrangling regarding the sovereignty of the islands. Neither country officially declared war. The Thatcher government was bolstered by the victory, and consequently secured victory in the1983 election, which prior to the war was seen as by no means certain.
Aside from the Sun’s Gotcha! headline, Shipbuilding is probably the most enduring cultural relic of the conflict.
Record producer Clive Langer wrote the music. Langer was going to give the song to Robert Wyatt, who made his name with 1960s pioneers The Soft Machine before going solo at the start of the 1970s. Langer was, however, dissatisfied with the lyrics, and passed the song onto Elvis Costello for completion.
Wyatt's version was released in 1982 and reached number 36 in the UK charts in May of the following year, On the recording Wyatt is backed by Clive Langer (organ),Steve Nieve (piano), Mark Bedford (double bass), Martin Hughes(drums) and Elvis Costello (backing vocals).
Elvis released his own version on 1983's Punch The Clock, recruiting legendary trumpeter Chet Baker to provide the cheese.
Bradford born Tasmin Archer reached the UK top 40 with an EP of (mainly) Costello covers in 1994, with Shipbuilding as the leading track, .
Suede recorded their version for 1995’s The Help Album (an album devoted to the War Child charity's aid efforts)
Former Blur guitarist Graham Coxon recorded this version for his 19th August 2004 John Peel session .