#165: Imperial Bedroom by Elvis Costello and The Attractions


Imperial Bedroom by Elvis Costello and The Attractions (1982)

Favorite Tracks: "Beyond Belief" and "Tears Before Bedtime" and "Shabby Doll" and "Man Out of Time" and "Almost Blue" and "...And In Every Home" and "Human Hands" and "Kid About It" and "Boy with a Problem" and "Pidgin English" and "You Little Fool" and "Town Cryer"

Thoughts: WOW. I like Elvis Costello, but I was a little bummed to have another of his albums when I JUST listened to him at #167. But after Metallica, I decided I should count my blessings, as it were. So I half-heartedly queued up the album's first track, "Beyond Belief", and GOOD LORD. I had to listen to it another 6 times before moving on to the next track. It knocked my socks off. The soft, quick singing as the song builds and builds. What a great start to an album--one of the strongest I've experienced when hearing a song for the first time. I couldn't wait to see what the rest of the album held in store.

"Tears Before Bedtime" was less impactful, but it was still a fun and groovy listen. It reminded me vaguely of Prince. "Shabby Doll" was just alright until at about the minute mark the piano came in and then I LOVED it. "The Long Honeymoon" was a nice song, but I kept being distracted by the wire percussion brushes in my left headphone. They sound just like a cat kicking in a litter box.

"Man Out of Time" has more killer piano, and a great building sound as well. "Almost Blue" is a classic sad song, apparently inspired by Chet Baker's version of "The Thrill is Gone." Almost me, almost you, almost blue.

Side 1 ends with "...And in Every Home," full of fun horns and orchestrations. Side two opens with upbeat "The Loved Ones" and then comes the romantic "Human Hands" which had me rocking my head and once again enjoying the piano part. "Kid About It" also had a great intimacy about it with the volume fluctuations of Elvis' singing. The next stand-out track was "Pidgin English"--a complex and fun song that reminded me of Bowie, doo-wop, late 60s Beatles (the horns), and features Elvis singing in several types of voices. Give it a listen! It's shocking that it wasn't released as a single.

The album ends with a bang: "Town Cryer", a piano and orchestra-laden masterpiece. Seriously, check out this album.

Is This Better Than Every Picture Tells A Story?: Certainly as good!

You can get killed just for living in your American skin

I'm terrible at keeping up with the news but this month many of my friends brought attention and voices of outrage to the murder of Michael Brown by Ferguson police, as well as the brutal mistreatment of peaceful protesters that has followed. I don't feel like I have anything to add to the conversation that hasn't already been better said by others about racism and police militarization in America...But that doesn't mean I will be silent. I want to boost the voices of those affected and shed light on this and other travesties of justice.

This weekend driving in my car Bruce Springsteen's song "41 Shots (American Skin)" came on. Written following the brutal shooting of unarmed street peddler Amadou Diallo by the NYPD, I heard it for the first time in the recording of Live in New York City Madison Square Garden concerts. He has since played it at several concerts in response to the shooting of Trayvon Martin. In 2012 he released a studio version of the song on his album High Hopes.

41 shots
And we'll take that ride
'cross this bloody river
to the other side
41 shots
I got my boots caked in this mud
We're baptized in these waters
and in each other's blood

Is it a gun
Is it a knife
Is it a wallet
This is your life
It ain't no secret
No secret, my friend
You can get killed just for living in
your American skin