Previously On Imperial Bedroom: “Just goes to prove that artistic integrity and sales are two separate and distinct monsters.” “…chaos, a scream and a band on the verge of jamming too hard.” “In a realm of suggested hierarchy, I prefer the high road of local news and specialty crackers.”
If push comes to shove and a dude holds a knife to my head and says, “I scratch out one side of this ElPeee weeth thees knife-uh, wheech one? Wheech one?!” First of all, who does this? Secondly, that was the dialect of a savage North Korean spy. Who’s the racist now?
I would begrudging allow the rice-bowled haircut slight slant to scratch up side two, then express again my inability to comprehend, who does this?
Side one is so solid, I would give up my favorite song, “Human Hands”. Beginning with a variation of “A Hard Day’s Night” opening chords, the jaunty piano wrestles with a staccato bass line. It is the soundtrack to mild madness, ending with “All I ever want is just to fall into your human hands.” Elvis emotes and succeeds.
“Loved Ones” opens up side two. A simple two chord guitar riff, and then alliteration and wordplay galore: “Don’t get smart or sarcastic. He snaps back just like elastic. Spare us the theatrics and the verbal gymnastics. We break wise guys just like matchsticks.” The song ends with the chant of P.S. I love you, introducing one of the potential album title themes.
“Human Hands” is next. At this point, I’d like to add that The Attractions are kicking serious ass. It’s almost as if they were being paid for each note they play; lots of notes, no clutter. One can’t help but be concerned if they were paid properly for their services. Or not.
“Kid About It” is the one song I could live without, but it has lyrical moments and overwrought pronunciation. It is the George Harrison’s “Love You To” of the album. I get it. If I’m in the right mood, I find humor in the way Elvis over annunciates the word kid.
“Little Savage” is brutal power pop. Lots of playful vocal counter-melody propels this ditty into a land of pure pleasure.
“Boy With A Problem” is the better version of “Kid About It”. Costello gets lyrical help from Squeeze’s Chris Difford.
“Pidgin English” is a slow building gem, starting small and growing larger with a brass arrangement reminiscent of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, ending with the theme P.S. I love you.
“You Little Fool” is pure baroque pop filled with backward loops, harpsichord, and a touch of psychedelia.
“Town Cryer” concludes the side with a meditative piano. As the song progresses, little flourishes are added, kooky disco strings swirl about a major seventh chord, more vocal harmonies and a Bacharach counter-melody. Very haunting and pretty. Steve Nieve handled the beautiful lush arrangement.
Imperial Bedroom is an adult pop masterpiece.
WARNING: Elvis Costello’s voice is not everyone’s jam. If you don’t like the tones of his vocals, you may not be able to fully enjoy this masterpiece. Elvis has a very distinctive nasal tone. (Think John Lennon on sinus steroids.) If you love melody with intelligent arrangements, you will understand what I’m talking about.