100 Greatest Albums EVER

Imperial Bedroom
Elvis Costello & The Attractions F-BEAT, 1982

UK Top 20 peak; Number 6; estimated sales 100,000 (UK); 540,000 (US)

Costello lit upon the title of his seventh album because it had, apparently, "just the right combination of spendour and sleaze". And splendour was the stuff that many fans were panting for, following the eccentric experiment of country album Almost Blue. The result was one of Costello's most detailed records ever, whose arrangements and lyrics can throw up surprises indefinitely. "I had imagined this to be my most optimistic album to date," he says, recalling his shock at seeing Barney Bubble's Picasso-nightmare artwork. But few were the listeners who chuckled complacently at such ominous works of emotional dislocation as Man Out Of Time, Shabby Doll or Beyond Belief.

Magic moment The Attractions' screeching car-crash riff that tops and tails the majestic Man Out Of Time.

A reader writes "Elvis plays Beatles. A draw." Richard Hall, Middlesex

Reader's comments from p39

7 Elvis Costello: My Aim Is True The first offering from this genius who has given us so many classics. Alison is the highlight. Lucy Broadhurst, Birmingham

Those Voting Forms Analysed In Depth, p57

2 Too much good stuff Some artists secured a large number of votes in total, but it was spread across their whole output. Therefore they failed to score highly with any one album. Victims of this syndrome included Bruce Springsteen (just one entry, with Tunnel Of Love), Elvis Costello (one entry, Imperial Bedroom) and Van Morrison (one entry, Astral Weeks). All are popular, but their fans disagree about which is their best work.