Tuesday, November 3, 2009

RVOW: Elvis Costello’s 1982 Record; Imperial Bedroom

Random Vinyl of the Week is a new installment on the NewbLog. The first record re-visited was Warren Zevon’s Excitable Boy, from 1978. This week I am spinning Elvis Costello’s 1982 release, “Imperial Bedroom,” which peaked at #30 in the U.S. charts and hit #6 in the U.K....

In 1982 Elvis Colstello teamed up with Geoff Emerick, engineer from Abbey Road studios and thus veteran of nearly every Beatles session post 1965, to record an album that was marketed with a single word: “Masterpiece?” Many didn’t feel that Imperial Bedroom was a masterpiece right away, but it did receive some great press including great reviews from Rolling Stone, The New Musical Express, and the Village Voice. Costello was starting to act more and more like the Elvis we know today, polite, witty, access-able, and less like the angry stand-offish “punk” who tore through the states with his entourage beating back reporters and photographers (literally) just a few years prior. The album’s peak track is generally considered to be “Man out of Time,” which I admit is the one I cued the needle up to for about two weeks after first buying this LP. “....And In Every Home,” might be my current favorite, however, with the full orchestral scoring of Steve Nieve; complete with brilliant fanfares and string flourishes. This album is a beauty and is also claimed to be the first album where Costello branched into too many genres on one record to capture the full “popular” audience and thus pleased the die-hards and buffs more than the masses. The b-side ballads including “Boy with a Problem,” and “Town Cryer,” certainly contribute to said sentiment and also help round out this effort. The album’s most memorable refrain, however, might belong to the song “Pidgin English,” on which Costello explains that: “There are Ten Commandments of Love.”
Imperial Bedroom definitely represents the era it was made in and certainly sounds more like a “Beatles-esque,” record than any of his previous releases, but it is still distinctly Elvis and possibly a Masterpiece. Most artists would easily boast it as their proudest effort, but Elvis has a few wall-to-wall ear-magic endeavors. It has certainly withstood the test of time- which cannot be said of many records from 1982- listed as number 166 in 2003’s “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time,” by Rolling Stone.

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