Recorded with famed Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick, Imperial Bedroom stands as Elvis Costello and the Attractions´ most highly decorated traditional pop album. Boasting sumptuous arrangements, large-scale instrumentation, ambitious layers, Tin Pan Alley melodies, and orchestrated devices, the 1982 record is a testament to studio creativity and ornate production. Amidst the lavish settings beats the heart of Costello´s biting, brutal lyrics that confront domestic malaise and sober emotional reflection. It´s little wonder the intelligent effort took top honors in the Village Voice´s Pazz & Jop Critics´ Poll.
Not that audiences back in the day ever had the privilege of hearing Imperial Bedroom at its maximum potential. Now they can. Mastered from the original master tapes, Mobile Fidelity´s numbered-edition 180g LP opens up the soundstages, expands the depth, and brings the genius of the grand arrangements into clear focus. In particular, the sound of the piano will have you believe that the 88s are situated right in your room, and never before has Emerick´s crafty sonic precision been so readily apparent. This is a huge-sounding record that demands full frequency extension and astute separation. Mobile Fidelity´s reissue delivers on all fronts. You need to hear this!
Ranked in 2005 by Rolling Stone at #166 on the magazine´s prestigious list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, Imperial Bedroom overflows with contagious pop, savvy torch, cabaret, chamber, and jazz-influenced fare. If it´s details you seek, then look no further. With Emerick´s assistance, each tune is distinguished with painstaking sonic accents, blended rhythms, counterpoint bass lines, dazzling passages, and inventive motifs. Accordions, tremolo guitars, organs, harpsichords, marimbas, horns, and an assortment of other instruments help color the subtly dark canvases. A 40-piece orchestra graces the gorgeous "...And In Every Home." And that´s just for starters.
Originally intended to be a stripped-down affair, Imperial Bedroom reflects Costello´s migration to composing on piano as well as his listening tastes at the time: Billie Holliday, Cole Porter, Frank Sinatra, Debussy. Intricate, expansive, and complex without ever sounding inaccessible, the record includes the now-classic "Man Out of Time," "Beyond Belief," and "Almost Blue," the latter a ballad that Chet Baker included in his live sets until he passed away. In another stroke of brilliance, Costello used the record as an opportunity to address the melancholic changes in both his own personal situation as well as that of England, the songs functioning as smart, sometimes satirical dialogues on issues such as disenchantment, identity, and relationships.
Still considered by many the finest record released in 1982, don´t pass up this extraordinary-sounding reissue.