Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Classic Vinyl: "Imperial Bedroom," Elvis Costello (1982)

When this was released in 1982, I thought it was the most disappointing of his 6 albums (not counting the mostly failed country experiment from the previous year).  Naturally, it went on to win the Pazz & Jop Poll, over such notables as Bruce Springsteen's "Nebraska," Prince's "1999," Richard and Linda Thompson's "Shoot Out the Lights" and Roxy Music's "Avalon."

After more than three decades,  I can hear a lot in the album that escaped me back then.  If the entire album maintained the drive and focus of the first side, I might even argue that it deserved to be a contender for the best album of 1982.  But it doesn't; on Side 2 Elvis gets a little fussy, although several of the songs point to the direction he was clearly heading - more Cole Porter than angry young punk.

It's hard to escape the conclusion that it was overrated at the time, but it's still a very good album and songs like "Beyond Belief," "The Long Honeymoon" and "Shabby Doll" would fit in just fine on a career-spanning anthology.

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