Elvis Costello and The Attractions – Imperial Bedroom
Imperial Bedroom is the seventh studio album by English singer-songwriter Elvis Costello, and his sixth with the Attractions—keyboardist Steve Nieve, bassist Bruce Thomas and drummer Pete Thomas (no relation). It was released on 2 July 1982 through F-Beat Records in the United Kingdom and Columbia Records in the United States. Recording took place at AIR Studios in London from late 1981 to early 1982 with production handled by Geoff Emerick. Placing an emphasis on studio experimentation, the album saw the group use unusual instruments, including harpsichord, accordion and strings arranged by Nieve. Songs were rewritten constantly while Costello tinkered with the recordings, adding numerous overdubs.
Employing a variety of pop styles that embody new wave, baroque pop and art rock, Imperial Bedroom contains an ornately lush production that several commentators compared to the Beatles and Phil Spector‘s wall of sound. The lyrics primarily concern love and relationships, with insight into the emotional problems of individuals. Squeeze‘s Chris Difford co-wrote the lyrics for “Boy With a Problem”. The cover artwork, a painting by Barney Bubbles, is a pastiche of Pablo Picasso‘s Three Musicians.
Promoted under the tagline “Masterpiece?”, Imperial Bedroom reached number 6 in the UK and number 30 in the US. Its singles, “You Little Fool” and “Man Out of Time“, failed to break the top 50 in the UK. Its commercial performance led Costello to take a new direction with 1983’s Punch the Clock. It was greeted with massive acclaim from music critics and continues to be regarded as one of Costello’s best works. Reviewers praised the songwriting, production, instrumentation and performances, although its complexity was divisive. Appearing on several best-of lists, Imperial Bedroom has been reissued multiple times with bonus tracks.
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