One on one: Elvis Costello and the making of his masterpiece, 'Imperial Bedroom'

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Scott Mervis: June 7th 2017

Elvis Costello is the master of the opening line.

“Imperial Bedroom,” perhaps his finest hour, begins with a whisper of “History repeats the old conceits/The glib replies/the same defeats,” and with that the British rocker opens the curtains on a “windup world” of domestic bliss, artifice and duplicity.

Song after song tells a heartbreaking mini tale of love gone sour and, for the first time, the Attractions make full use of the studio, turning to Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick to help provide the rich sonic backdrop.

Upon its release in July 1982, Rolling Stone declared Costello’s seventh album a masterpiece, evoking such ambitious projects as “Sgt. Pepper” and “Tommy.” While it didn’t soar up the charts (hitting No. 30) and none of the singles may ring familiar to the casual fan, it was a turning point in Costello’s career, moving him further away from his prickly punk past.

You may have had to see it to realize it. On the ’81 tour, coinciding with the release of “Trust,” Costello and the Attractions were still bashing through their short sets at Ramones speed. When they hit the Stanley Theater here on Aug. 17, 1982, they wielded more authority in an expansive 37-song set.

Thirty-five years later, Elvis Costello and the Imposters (keyboardist Steve Nieve and drummer Pete Thomas from the Attractions with bassist Davey Faragher from Cracker) are revisiting the album on the Imperial Bedroom and Other Chambers Tour, using it as a jumping-off point into related material.

Late last month, he did his first interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to talk about it. Read More....