From The Truth Society to Neurotic Erotica
K. H. Orton | New York, NY USA | 04/24/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Almost 27 years since its initial release, I find I keep coming back to this album. I must confess, it was the 1st Costello record I bought (we're talking 1985 here) & it made enough of an impact for me to tear through everything that came before it with relish & abandon. In short, it made a fan out of me.
Among Costello devotees there is obviously a healthy, ongoing debate as to which albums deserve "classic" status. By & large, most agree Imperial Bedroom is on that list. The Costello admirers who hoist their fickle disdain on the likes of "Man Out Of Time" are few & far between. The fact that legendary Jazz trumpet great, Chet Baker covered "Almost Blue" to his dying day might also make one think twice as to it's merit.
A lot of ink has been spilled on the "Beatlesque" production, courtesy of Geoff Emerick (The man who twiddled the nobs on a little album called "Sgt. Pepper's"). But one thing that seems to set Bedroom apart from its predecessors is the fact that this is an album Costello pretty much composed on the piano, rather than the guitar. More than anything that preceded it, Cocktail Lounge Cabaret & Rogers & Hart musical stylings take precedence over 1-2-3-4- Rock & Roll. All of which, might just account for any cries of "he's lost his edge".
Yet, regardless of the lavish, chirpy production or the absurd "Gershwin" comparisons Bedroom received, the sentiments of the songs are as dark & jaded as ever. Here domestic unrest meets morning-after malaise. The infectious "insult & flattery" of "Beyond Belief" soon gives way to the eviscerating self-portrait of "Shabby Doll". The best way to sum up might be: all the strings in the world couldn't put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
Personally, I don't find a single dud among Bedroom's 15 tracks. And while, "Man Out of Time" & "Almost Blue" are usually on any given Greatest Hits compilation, lesser known greats like, "Human Hands" & "Pidgin English" need not be overlooked.
For all its seemingly sophisticated studio trickery, Costello's liner notes reveal it actually took 3 Attractions to play the 1 accordion on "Long Honeymoon"...One to hold it in place, another to work the bellows, while Steve Nieve played the keyboard. So perhaps Punk is not dead after all.
Despite this little footnote, Imperial Bedroom is without a doubt one of Costello's most elegant & concise albums. I suppose a case could also be made for it being one of his most self-obsessed. But for me, he rises above the fray of his own self-conflict in a way we all can relate to.
While a bit of a flop in its day, Columbia advertised the album with one word: "Masterpiece?"(much to Costello's embarrassment).
For this discerning fan, the answer is simple: Yes.
The Honeymoon Of Elvis & The Attractions
Andre S. Grindle | Brewer Maine | 04/07/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Pretty much every rock fan knows about the the early history of Elvis Costello...from My Aim Is True to whatever he happens to have been doing in the last decade from collaberations with Burt Bacharach and Allen Toussaint to one (or two maybe) classical projects. Either way around it this one seems to have gotton away from me.I had no idea he recorded it,none of the songs seem at all familiar and it looks like I am definately not the only one who feels that way. So whatever:Costello was obviously pretty content at this point to hang on 180 here because this album doesn look or sound like any Elvis Costello & The Attractions album before it. If you want to make the obvious Beatles comparasin (it's one worth making though) you could look at his previous album Trust and this as being like the Revolver [UK] and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band of his career:both these albums found Costello following the same musical path with a very gradual transition from 3 minute pop to something more psychedlic.Had it all been done?No-this was very very different. With this album Elvis achieved something that was not only thought next to impossible,with some strong exceptions but that would help influence the world of Brit-pop for decades.He was able to integrate the concept of psychedelic effects into songs that were not only very strong but under 5 minutes. The last four songs on thealbum (as well as the percussive opener "Beyond Belief"),"Pidgin English","You Little Fool" and especially "Town Cryer" give you lot's of strings,leslie amp echoes here and there-the works. But in the hand of new producer Geoff Emmerick it's not very clished;you never know what's coming next. On the other hand there are some moments where other styles tried on earlier albums really come into great focus."Shabby Doll" is a great song;very soulful and very funky,especially the bassline at the end.If the previous album had Elvis Costello's singing was going too in new directions this really takes the cake!Up and down,from song to song he is leaping into this...really very sexy high alto.I would'nt call it falsetto as it seems very natural."Almost Blue" is....just beautiful.It's the title of his very last album but this torchy jazz ballad is definately one of his unsung classics.Same goes for the soulful "Human Hands"."The Long Honeymoon","Kid About It","Little Savage"....well many of things songs are able to be pretty straight ahead and still be innovative. So sure it's forgotton and I'd bet some people give this a good review simply for that purpose:that just because an album is obscure then it's gotta be good. Well that is never entirely true but this is a very strong exception to the rule,as well as being the best place to find the groun zero where post-punk pop met up with....well where the music's gone pretty much today in a lot of ways."