Rhino gets it right
Christopher Ingalls | Massachusetts | 12/02/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Double-dipping is okay, I suppose. Normally I'd be vehemently opposed to "triple-dipping" (re-re-releasing an artist's work), but since most of my Elvis Costello CDs were stolen last year, Rhino's reissuing of the entire EC catalog is a welcome idea to me, and one that is accomplishing the seemingly impossible task of improving on Rykodisc's similar reissue project.Rhino is apparently reissuing Elvis' entire recorded output (unlike Rykodisc, he's not just reissuing the Columbia years), and releasing them three at a time roughly twice a year (in no discernible order, it seems). The best thing about Rhino's project is that every release is a two-disc package, with all the bonus material on disc two. This makes for quite a lot of bonus material. "Imperial Bedroom" was a higly welcome reissue. I first bought the vinyl copyof this masterpiece in 1986, then I bought the Columbia CD in 1993 and the Rykodisc version in 2000. It seems like the fourth time's the charm. For those of you not familiar with this album, it was released in 1982 to wide critical acclaim. The lush production and strong songwriting make it, in my opinion, one of Elvis' best and most certainly his most intelligent. The album's been a part of my life for 16 years and I know the thing backwards and forwards. The moody "Beyond Belief." The epic, beautiful "Man out of Time." The latin-tinged, accordian-fueled "Long Honeymoon." Steve Neive's psychotic orchestrations on "...and in Every Home." And that's just part of side one. The Rhino disc two is a veritable treasure trove for anyone interested in this album. There's tons of alternate, early versions of oterwise great songs, giving them an intersting new edge. "Kid About It" is pared down a bit. "Little Savage" is given an R&B-ballad shot in the arm. "Beyond Belief" was originally named "The Land of Give and Take" with slightly different lyrics. "Town Cryer" is given a fast-paced disco treatment, making it sound like an Abba song (that description may sound like sacrilege to an EC fan, but believe me, it sounds great). There's lots of stuff that was also featured on the original Ryko bonus track section, like the cover of Smokey Robinson's "Head to Toe," the gleeful, upbeat "I Turn Around," and the unused waltz-like title track (a lot of this stuff is also familiar to long-time fans in the form of various B-sides and compilation albums, like the excellent "Out of Our Idiot" collection). Die-hard EC fans from back in the day will be in heaven, rediscovering this classic in a new light. New EC fans will also be very happy with this purchase. I can't imagine anyone not liking "Imperial Bedroom." Rhino's version makes ignoring this classic even more of a crime."
Here we go again...
Gordon Pfannenstiel | Russell, KS United States | 11/23/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ah, the CD age...who'd ever thought that when I excitedly picked up this album in the summer of '82, that I would purchase it four, count 'em, four more times! OK, the second time I puchased it WAS spur of the moment - there I was eating at the Hibachi, a great Japanese restaurant in Kansas City, killing time by treating my taste-buds before seeing Elvis at the Starlight Theater in the summer of '83. All of the sudden in walks...Elvis Costello with his entourage! Did I know that Elvis loved good Japanese food? Well, of course, but who've thought it? Anyway, after a moment of excited discussion on the strategy of approaching E.C. for his autograph with my then-wife Diane and her brother Jeff, it was decided that Jeff and I would run to the nearest music store to procure a couple of Elvis albums and Diane would keep him at the Hibachi, using any charms necessary. Jeff bought a copy of his latest, Punch the Clock, while I purchased the Masterpiece?, Imperial Bedroom. We arrived back the Hibachi, our food getting cold on the table, while E.C. was quickly consuming his. We ate quickly, while deciding how we were to approach the man. During this unending dicussion, Elvis and entourage got up to leave...and we paniced, allowing E.C. to walk on by without a word. However, Bruce Thomas noticed the albums on the table, and stopped Elvis and motioned back to us. Elvis grudgingly turned around and humored yet another starstruck fan. We did have a short conversation, he signed the albums, and left. Yep, still have my autographed Imperial bedroom, never played.
Half a decade later, Columbia issued I.B. on CD, and I, absolutely believing that ANYTHING on CD would sound better than its LP counterpart, purchased it immediately. Then came the 90s and the "remastered reissue" madness. Rykodisc acquired E.C.s Columbia catalog, and reissued this one in 1994. Did I have to have it? Absolutely! AND it did sound considerably better than the Columbia release, AND it had NINE "bonus" tracks. Well, I finally could stop spending money on this album, right?
Wrong. Barely 7 years pass and Rhino, the King of reissues, gets hold of Elvis' ENTIRE back catalog. I resist buying E.C.s albums YET AGAIN until this one comes out. This time there is an entire bonus disc that has 23 bonus tracks! That's just insane! So, I shell out to buy this album for the 5th time!
Is it worth it? Well, the remastering differs only so slightly from the Ryko remaster, just a litte more of that crispness that Bill Inglot is so known for. The Ryko remaster is a bit subtler, and for this album I think I prefer it. But I'll state again, the differences are all but un-noticable, so if you're buying this hoping for some remarkable sonic upgrade, you'll be disappointed.
But the bonus stuff is a different story. If you're an Elvis fan, these tracks are both entertaining and illuminating. Different lyrics, different arrangements. Really makes one appreciate the final product all the more. Ex-Beatles' engineer Geoff Emerick gets it all right, with plenty of Beatle-esque orchestral touches at all the right places. A masterpiece?
And this has GOT to be the LAST reissue, right?"
My favorite album of all time....and I'm a 40-year Beatleman
John H. Rasmussen II | Middletown, PA United States | 07/31/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""A Hard Day's Night" and "Abbey Road" take the #2 and #3 places on my all-time list, right behind this spectacular gem. The SEARING impression this album made on me has as much to do with the events of my young adulthood at the time as it does with the brilliant music I was hearing from the LP on my turntable. I won't bore you with details but here's the basics: my friend Jon turned me onto this album; it had recently been released and I had just broken up with the first person I ever truly fell in love with....and you know how dramatic/traumatic these things are to a 19-year old! The album perfectly mirrored my feelings in a particular time & place as no album had before or since. I don't mean to suggest that this is a set of maudlin "break-up" songs best suited for jilted 19-year olds; on the contrary, it runs a broader gamut of musical stylings and displays a bolder sophistication than had been present in his recordings up to that time....but it still includes his trademark savage guitar attacks and pointed, acid-tongued lyrics. The production is flawless, unique and quite striking. The essence of this album's profound effect on me is the seemingly effortless way that raw, hypersensitive, uncommunicatable emotions are magically transformed into aural beauty of the absolute highest quality. When the album first "got hold of me", I was listening to it literally 2 or 3 or 4 times a day....and this went on for months and months. Obsessed? You bet.
The "Masterpiece?" campaign for the album definitely hit the nail on the head with this one. Not discounting the brilliance of his earlier, tougher albums (which I got into only after hearing "Imperial Bedroom"), Elvis & the Attractions turned a corner with this recording and climbed to staggering heights of musical greatness.
Elvis was armed with an unparalleled batch of new songs. Produced by one-time Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick, and with the Attractions at the top of their game, the album absolutely soars from the first note to the last. Elvis's lyrics here are as wicked or as tender as ever and are unquestionably some of the finest of his career; additionally, he displays a striking, previously-unheard range of vocal stylings.
I play this album with a commitment to not interrupt it. It MUST be listened to as one continuous piece of music. I know it's difficult for most people to find an extra hour to pay undivided attention to music, but it's worth the effort. It's almost impossible for me to choose "standout" tracks from this album, but here's my short list:
"Man Out Of Time" - staggeringly majestic, absolutely perfect, possibly my very favorite Elvis song
"Little Savage" - incredibly infectious, endlessly clever
"Pidgeon English" - brutal and tender, funny and sad, all at the same time; devastating lyrics
"You Little Fool" - aaahhhhhhhhhh: CLASSIC Elvis wickedness!
"Town Cryer" - beautifully orchestrated, touching sentiments
There's so much more to Elvis than his earlier "angry punk" catalog....and he'd be the first to remind us of that. There's plenty of that attitude here, but by crafting a unique, unexpected and unforgettable album it was also a giant step forward for Elvis & The Attractions. This recording turned me into a lifelong Elvis fan....and, with this album, I turned my sister into one, too. She's probably more rabidly devoted to Elvis than even I!! "Masterpiece", indeed...!!
By the way: I wore out three cassettes of this recording in 2 years. I've literally listened to "Imperial Bedroom" at least 400 times over the last 24 years and I've played it in every format: LP, cassette, CD."