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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2002
Double-dipping is okay, I suppose. Normally I'd be vehemently opposed to "triple-dipping" (re-re-releasing an artist's work), but since most of my Elvis Costello CDs were stolen last year, Rhino's reissuing of the entire EC catalog is a welcome idea to me, and one that is accomplishing the seemingly impossible task of improving on Rykodisc's similar reissue project.
Rhino is apparently reissuing Elvis' entire recorded output (unlike Rykodisc, he's not just reissuing the Columbia years), and releasing them three at a time roughly twice a year (in no discernible order, it seems). The best thing about Rhino's project is that every release is a two-disc package, with all the bonus material on disc two. This makes for quite a lot of bonus material.
"Imperial Bedroom" was a higly welcome reissue. I first bought the vinyl copyof this masterpiece in 1986, then I bought the Columbia CD in 1993 and the Rykodisc version in 2000. It seems like the fourth time's the charm.
For those of you not familiar with this album, it was released in 1982 to wide critical acclaim. The lush production and strong songwriting make it, in my opinion, one of Elvis' best and most certainly his most intelligent. The album's been a part of my life for 16 years and I know the thing backwards and forwards. The moody "Beyond Belief." The epic, beautiful "Man out of Time." The latin-tinged, accordian-fueled "Long Honeymoon." Steve Neive's psychotic orchestrations on "...and in Every Home." And that's just part of side one.
The Rhino disc two is a veritable treasure trove for anyone interested in this album. There's tons of alternate, early versions of oterwise great songs, giving them an intersting new edge. "Kid About It" is pared down a bit. "Little Savage" is given an R&B-ballad shot in the arm. "Beyond Belief" was originally named "The Land of Give and Take" with slightly different lyrics. "Town Cryer" is given a fast-paced disco treatment, making it sound like an Abba song (that description may sound like sacrilege to an EC fan, but believe me, it sounds great).
There's lots of stuff that was also featured on the original Ryko bonus track section, like the cover of Smokey Robinson's "Head to Toe," the gleeful, upbeat "I Turn Around," and the unused waltz-like title track (a lot of this stuff is also familiar to long-time fans in the form of various B-sides and compilation albums, like the excellent "Out of Our Idiot" collection).
Die-hard EC fans from back in the day will be in heaven, rediscovering this classic in a new light. New EC fans will also be very happy with this purchase. I can't imagine anyone not liking "Imperial Bedroom." Rhino's version makes ignoring this classic even more of a crime.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2002
Ah, the CD age...who'd ever thought that when I excitedly picked up this album in the summer of '82, that I would purchase it four, count 'em, four more times! OK, the second time I puchased it WAS spur of the moment - there I was eating at the Hibachi, a great Japanese restaurant in Kansas City, killing time by treating my taste-buds before seeing Elvis at the Starlight Theater in the summer of '83. All of the sudden in walks...Elvis Costello with his entourage! Did I know that Elvis loved good Japanese food? Well, of course, but who've thought it? Anyway, after a moment of excited discussion on the strategy of approaching E.C. for his autograph with my then-wife Diane and her brother Jeff, it was decided that Jeff and I would run to the nearest music store to procure a couple of Elvis albums and Diane would keep him at the Hibachi, using any charms necessary. Jeff bought a copy of his latest, Punch the Clock, while I purchased the Masterpiece?, Imperial Bedroom. We arrived back the Hibachi, our food getting cold on the table, while E.C. was quickly consuming his. We ate quickly, while deciding how we were to approach the man. During this unending dicussion, Elvis and entourage got up to leave...and we paniced, allowing E.C. to walk on by without a word. However, Bruce Thomas noticed the albums on the table, and stopped Elvis and motioned back to us. Elvis grudgingly turned around and humored yet another starstruck fan. We did have a short conversation, he signed the albums, and left. Yep, still have my autographed Imperial bedroom, never played.

Half a decade later, Columbia issued I.B. on CD, and I, absolutely believing that ANYTHING on CD would sound better than its LP counterpart, purchased it immediately. Then came the 90s and the "remastered reissue" madness. Rykodisc acquired E.C.s Columbia catalog, and reissued this one in 1994. Did I have to have it? Absolutely! AND it did sound considerably better than the Columbia release, AND it had NINE "bonus" tracks. Well, I finally could stop spending money on this album, right?

Wrong. Barely 7 years pass and Rhino, the King of reissues, gets hold of Elvis' ENTIRE back catalog. I resist buying E.C.s albums YET AGAIN until this one comes out. This time there is an entire bonus disc that has 23 bonus tracks! That's just insane! So, I shell out to buy this album for the 5th time!

Is it worth it? Well, the remastering differs only so slightly from the Ryko remaster, just a litte more of that crispness that Bill Inglot is so known for. The Ryko remaster is a bit subtler, and for this album I think I prefer it. But I'll state again, the differences are all but un-noticable, so if you're buying this hoping for some remarkable sonic upgrade, you'll be disappointed.

But the bonus stuff is a different story. If you're an Elvis fan, these tracks are both entertaining and illuminating. Different lyrics, different arrangements. Really makes one appreciate the final product all the more. Ex-Beatles' engineer Geoff Emerick gets it all right, with plenty of Beatle-esque orchestral touches at all the right places. A masterpiece?

Well, yes.

And this has GOT to be the LAST reissue, right?
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 1998
It's been almost 15 years since Elvis came out with Imperial Bedroom. Although it may seem like a transition album between his new wave/punk persona and his less successful, more experimental albums to follow, this is where he puts it all together. I've always felt that songwriters have peaks and valleys. Some have only one peak and try to live off it forever. One only has to look at the solo careers of the Beatle to understand that they were at their peak while they were in their 20s and early 30s. McCartney could never understand why he couldn't write another "Yesterday" or "Hey Jude". But he couldn't. And I don't think Elvis will ever match the inspired excellence of this album. From beginning to end, it commands your attention, shifting between quirky, catchy jingles, to unpredictible and moody melodies. It has a certain "Sgt. Pepper" sound to it. I've picked up every Elvis album since in the faint hope that he might repeat or! surpass Imperial Bedroom and prove that he didn't peak in 1982. Although each album has something comparable with Imperial Bedroom, nothing compares to the sum of the parts of what I can easily say is his greatest album.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
"A Hard Day's Night" and "Abbey Road" take the #2 and #3 places on my all-time list, right behind this spectacular gem. The SEARING impression this album made on me has as much to do with the events of my young adulthood at the time as it does with the brilliant music I was hearing from the LP on my turntable. I won't bore you with details but here's the basics: my friend Jon turned me onto this album; it had recently been released and I had just broken up with the first person I ever truly fell in love with....and you know how dramatic/traumatic these things are to a 19-year old! The album perfectly mirrored my feelings in a particular time & place as no album had before or since. I don't mean to suggest that this is a set of maudlin "break-up" songs best suited for jilted 19-year olds; on the contrary, it runs a broader gamut of musical stylings and displays a bolder sophistication than had been present in his recordings up to that time....but it still includes his trademark savage guitar attacks and pointed, acid-tongued lyrics. The production is flawless, unique and quite striking. The essence of this album's profound effect on me is the seemingly effortless way that raw, hypersensitive, uncommunicatable emotions are magically transformed into aural beauty of the absolute highest quality. When the album first "got hold of me", I was listening to it literally 2 or 3 or 4 times a day....and this went on for months and months. Obsessed? You bet.

The "Masterpiece?" campaign for the album definitely hit the nail on the head with this one. Not discounting the brilliance of his earlier, tougher albums (which I got into only after hearing "Imperial Bedroom"), Elvis & the Attractions turned a corner with this recording and climbed to staggering heights of musical greatness.

Elvis was armed with an unparalleled batch of new songs. Produced by one-time Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick, and with the Attractions at the top of their game, the album absolutely soars from the first note to the last. Elvis's lyrics here are as wicked or as tender as ever and are unquestionably some of the finest of his career; additionally, he displays a striking, previously-unheard range of vocal stylings.

I play this album with a commitment to not interrupt it. It MUST be listened to as one continuous piece of music. I know it's difficult for most people to find an extra hour to pay undivided attention to music, but it's worth the effort. It's almost impossible for me to choose "standout" tracks from this album, but here's my short list:

"Man Out Of Time" - staggeringly majestic, absolutely perfect, possibly my very favorite Elvis song

"Little Savage" - incredibly infectious, endlessly clever

"Pidgeon English" - brutal and tender, funny and sad, all at the same time; devastating lyrics

"You Little Fool" - aaahhhhhhhhhh: CLASSIC Elvis wickedness!

"Town Cryer" - beautifully orchestrated, touching sentiments

There's so much more to Elvis than his earlier "angry punk" catalog....and he'd be the first to remind us of that. There's plenty of that attitude here, but by crafting a unique, unexpected and unforgettable album it was also a giant step forward for Elvis & The Attractions. This recording turned me into a lifelong Elvis fan....and, with this album, I turned my sister into one, too. She's probably more rabidly devoted to Elvis than even I!! "Masterpiece", indeed...!!

By the way: I wore out three cassettes of this recording in 2 years. I've literally listened to "Imperial Bedroom" at least 400 times over the last 24 years and I've played it in every format: LP, cassette, CD.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
When "Imperial Bedroom" first hit the shelves, critics were falling over themselves with superlatives. Even Columbia's "Artist...Masterpiece?" ad campaign was begging the question. Was this the album that would crack the new wave stereotype that had been hung around Elvis Costello's neck since "My Aim Is True?"

The answer was yes...and no.

Granted, hiring Geoff Emerick to put his Beatle-esque touches made for a handsome, rich sound, more than any other album in EC's discography. The expansiveness paid off right from the album's opener, "Beyond Belief." Toying with his own range and the overlapping vocal parts, Elvis' willingness to experiment rocked the foundations of all the early "punks" of the period. (Think of how closely Joe Jackson's "Night And Day" and The Police's "Synchronicity" followed.) The experiments were also inherent to the arrangements. The high pitched strings that slip out of the album's fade to "Town Cryer" were four cellos overdubbed to sound like an entire string section, as I recall.

Working from the pretext that they could experiment like the Beatles did, each song was tinkered and toyed with till (as you can hear in the comparisons to the bonus disc's demo versions) they barely resembled their original ideas. It made the original album's side one a song suite of near "Sgt. Pepper" proportions, with the standout of "Man Out Of Time" marking the perfect bridge between the Elvis of old and the Elvis of new. His anguished howl that breaks the song open and then ushers it into the heartbreak of "Almost Blue" reset the boundaries of compositions in 1982.

Comparisons to Gershwin and Porter were also being tossed around when "Imperial Bedroom" first came out, one suspects they had more to do with overzealous critics trying to make associations with "serious music" than to the obvious merits of Elvis' songwriting prowess. The debt to Tin Pan Alley ("The Long Honeymoon") is truly there. But the lyrical jabs and jibes are still pure Costello, and a line like "In a private detective overcoat and dirty deadman's shoes" would be perfect for that kind of stage production cross. I'd be hard pressed to imagine Cole Porter working up the anger behind "Shabby Doll."

In short, the dark and introspective "Imperial Bedroom" was a turning point for Elvis, final proof that he was at the crest of the still expanding wave of British writers that had begun emerging in the early 80's. It was likely the best album of 1982 as well.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 24, 2009
Almost 27 years since its initial release, I find I keep coming back to this album. I must confess, it was the 1st Costello record I bought (we're talking 1985 here) & it made enough of an impact for me to tear through everything that came before it with relish & abandon. In short, it made a fan out of me.

Among Costello devotees there is obviously a healthy, ongoing debate as to which albums deserve "classic" status. By & large, most agree Imperial Bedroom is on that list. The Costello admirers who hoist their fickle disdain on the likes of "Man Out Of Time" are few & far between. The fact that legendary Jazz trumpet great, Chet Baker covered "Almost Blue" to his dying day might also make one think twice as to it's merit.

A lot of ink has been spilled on the "Beatlesque" production, courtesy of Geoff Emerick (The man who twiddled the nobs on a little album called "Sgt. Pepper's"). But one thing that seems to set Bedroom apart from its predecessors is the fact that this is an album Costello pretty much composed on the piano, rather than the guitar. More than anything that preceded it, Cocktail Lounge Cabaret & Rogers & Hart musical stylings take precedence over 1-2-3-4- Rock & Roll. All of which, might just account for any cries of "he's lost his edge".

Yet, regardless of the lavish, chirpy production or the absurd "Gershwin" comparisons Bedroom received, the sentiments of the songs are as dark & jaded as ever. Here domestic unrest meets morning-after malaise. The infectious "insult & flattery" of "Beyond Belief" soon gives way to the eviscerating self-portrait of "Shabby Doll". The best way to sum up might be: all the strings in the world couldn't put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Personally, I don't find a single dud among Bedroom's 15 tracks. And while, "Man Out of Time" & "Almost Blue" are usually on any given Greatest Hits compilation, lesser known greats like, "Human Hands" & "Pidgin English" need not be overlooked.

For all its seemingly sophisticated studio trickery, Costello's liner notes reveal it actually took 3 Attractions to play the 1 accordion on "Long Honeymoon"...One to hold it in place, another to work the bellows, while Steve Nieve played the keyboard. So perhaps Punk is not dead after all.

Despite this little footnote, Imperial Bedroom is without a doubt one of Costello's most elegant & concise albums. I suppose a case could also be made for it being one of his most self-obsessed. But for me, he rises above the fray of his own self-conflict in a way we all can relate to.

While a bit of a flop in its day, Columbia advertised the album with one word: "Masterpiece?"(much to Costello's embarrassment).

For this discerning fan, the answer is simple: Yes.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
When "Imperial Bedroom" first hit the shelves, critics were falling over themselves with superlatives. Even Columbia's "Artist...Masterpiece?" ad campaign was begging the question. Was this the album that would crack the new wave stereotype that had been hung around Elvis Costello's neck since "My Aim Is True?"
The answer was yes...and no.
Granted, hiring Geoff Emerick to put his Beatle-esque touches made for a handsome, rich sound, more than any other album in EC's discography. The expansiveness paid off right from the album's opener, "Beyond Belief." Toying with his own range and the overlapping vocal parts, Elvis' willingness to experiment rocked the foundations of all the early "punks" of the period. (Think of how closely Joe Jackson's "Night And Day" and The Police's "Synchronicity" followed.) The experiments were also inherent to the arrangements. The high pitched strings that slip out of the album's fade to "Town Cryer" were four cellos overdubbed to sound like an entire string section, as I recall.
Working from the pretext that they could experiment like the Beatles did, each song was tinkered and toyed with till (as you can hear in the comparisons to the bonus disc's demo versions) they barely resembled their original ideas. It made the original album's side one a song suite of near "Sgt. Pepper" proportions, with the standout of "Man Out Of Time" marking the perfect bridge between the Elvis of old and the Elvis of new. His anguished howl that breaks the song open and then ushers it into the heartbreak of "Almost Blue" reset the boundaries of compositions in 1982.
Comparisons to Gershwin and Porter were also being tossed around when "Imperial Bedroom" first came out, one suspects they had more to do with overzealous critics trying to make associations with "serious music" than to the obvious merits of Elvis' songwriting prowess. The debt to Tin Pan Alley ("The Long Honeymoon") is truly there. But the lyrical jabs and jibes are still pure Costello, and a line like "In a private detective overcoat and dirty deadman's shoes" would be perfect for that kind of stage production cross. I'd be hard pressed to imagine Cole Porter working up the anger behind "Shabby Doll."
In short, the dark and introspective "Imperial Bedroom" was a turning point for Elvis, final proof that he was at the crest of the still expanding wave of British writers that had begun emerging in the early 80's. It was likely the best album of 1982 as well.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2004
I remember reading an interview in 1982 where Elvis Costello expressed his desire to have someone like Frank Sinatra cover his tunes (as opposed to Linda Ronstadt). Out of that urge came IMPERIAL BEDROOM, and it shows wonderfully. Whether Elvis Costello was simply maturing or just displaying a side of his songwriting talent that he had to suppress for so long, I couldn't say. But IMPERIAL BEDROOM was certainly an ambitious and far-reaching album. "Man Out of Time", "Shabby Doll" and "Beyond Belief" are incredibly brilliant compositions that, frankly, stunned me back in 1982. I couldn't get over the mix of sophistication and drama in these melodies. While I knew Costello was incredibly talented, I honestly didn't know he had such range.
I don't think that Ol' Blue Eyes even bothered to listen to anything on this album--seriously doubt it. But for my money, just for the first few songs alone, this cd is worth every penny.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2003
There's not a whole lot to add to the previously posted reviews. In spite of Columbia's audacious "Masterpiece?" ad campaign at the time of the original LP's release, Imperial Bedroom is probably worthy of being called a masterpice. If nothing else, it was dramatically different from just about everything else that came out in 1982.

The sound quality of the Rhino reissue is perhaps a tad fuller than the Ryko reissue, but the differences are mostly subtle. The extra bonus material mostly serves to illustrate why the "alternate" versions didn't make the album, though it's great to finally be able to hear the sped-up version of "Man out of time" that survived as the intro and outro of the album version.

Oddly enough, even the expanded liner notes don't reveal too much more than the notes for the Ryko edition, which were already longer than those Costello penned for most of the previous Ryko reissues. Still, if you've got the Ryko reissue of Imperial Bedroom, the new liner notes do make a good case for picking up the Rhino edition.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2000
When this album came out in 1982, it was a sonic, lyrical, and musical revelation for Elvis Costello and the Attractions. Time has not diminished it. Geoff Emerick's elegant production affords the Attractions a chance to truly demonstrate their amazing musical chops: Pete Thomas's exquisite, never overdone drumming; bassist Bruce Thomas melodically galavanting "up the thin bits" a la Macca; and king of the keyboard jungle Steve Nieve flexing his musical muscle with tantalizing orchestral arrangements. This was also the first Elvis album to print the lyrics, but without punctuation or traditional spacing. In hindsight, this made the sleeve--yes, we're talking vinyl here--an unplugged interactive experience. This always was the best-sounding Costello album, but Rykodisc's version betters the Columbia and Demon editions in that regard AND adds no less than nine bonus tracks of b-sides, demos, and unreleased songs. Without a doubt the finest and most musically well-rounded album this quartet ever made. That's not a slight to all their other fine albums, but this was their Pepper. They finally had the time and budget to make what they wanted, and they came through with flying colors. Let's just hope the world doesn't forget about Imperial Bedroom. Anyway, it will always be our little secret treasure.
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