Sunday, October 07, 2007

Imperial Bedroom (1982)

At which point all agreement about Elvis Costello came to an end. Those inclined to label him with figures they perceived that he intended to ape (Buddy Holly for My Aim Is True, Bob Dylan for This Year's Model, so on and so forth) claimed Cole Porter, George Gershwin, even no less than all of Tin Pin Alley for this. Dean Robert Christgau flew in the face of the consensus of the time that this was not only good, but great, pooh-poohing that it "shores up my impression that he can be precious lyrically, vocally, and musically, and gnomic for no reason at all--in short, pretentious." Well, the rest of us liked it pretty well, although I admit this was the beginning of Elvis Costello albums that required, at least for me, a certain attitude and approach of practically reverent study. Typically, little makes sense for the first several listens, then various melodies, lyrical phrases, breaks and other kicks begin to emerge and cohere, until finally, 15 or so listens in, the gorgeous wide-screen tapestry is evident in all its splendor. For me, this experience has been fairly consistent across most of the body of his work that followed, which puts even the work I most enthusiastically endorse squarely in the camp of music I am most suspicious of – the kind you "have to listen to a few times" before their genius discloses. In other words, self-fulfilling prophecy. Even so, that's my thumb pointing straight to heaven on this one.


  1. One of the finest albums of all time, by anybody. But, when I first heard it I only liked the first two songs. After about the sixth try, I couldn't get enough of any of it. Sheer fucking perfection.

  2. um....question: is this the Rykodisc version or is it the Rhino version?