Record Mirror, October 16, 1982

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Record Mirror

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Carrion Costello


Billy Sloan

Elvis Costello stunned his audiences with the wealth and quality of his latest material on his recent UK tour.

Critical vultures looking to pick over an ailing Costello carcass have had to withdraw their sharpened claws and wait once more.

But just when will his gifted song writing dry up? Hopefully, not for a long time.

Indeed his recent country album Almost Blue was a courageous exploration even if it wasn't fully appreciated and understood by his staunch audience. But Imperial Bedroom must he 1982's best album, full of superbly crafted songs dealing with emotional situations, all of them real.

He's honed each piece of Imperial Bedroom to a rare sharpness and — coupled with the Attractions' breathtaking skill of arrangement and musical texture has created his finest writing and vocal performance yet.

But then again, if you have heard Imperial Bedroom you'll already know that — and if you haven't, then you Just don't deserve to.


It's been over a year since Costello returned from Nashville with Almost Blue, a set in which he suffered personally duo to Billy Sherrill's apparent lack of interest, yet also benefited from the man's undoubted technical skills.

"It wasn't total disaster although it was sometimes confusing, knowing whether he was interested at all," said Elvis.

"It died a death in America, because I suppose it's like taking coals to Newcastle. I thought that showed a lack of imagination really, because a lot of American country music is very bland and emotionless, the total opposite to what it should be. A lot of people even thought we'd gone soft.

"Sherrill is also not very interested in music. He doesn't have much love for it left, yet he does it very well and can probably do it in his sleep. And we went there for the conflict, really. Not to make life difficult but just to work in a totally different environment."

While Almost Blue was still in the charts, Costello teamed up with Beatles' engineer Geoff Emerick for Imperial Bedroom. Their working relationship was again radically different to the previous album, with Emerick concentrating on getting the sounds and Costello himself in an executive role having final judgement on takes and performances.

"Instead of bending the songs into the form of en album like on Get Happy or Almost Blue, we decided to go for everything from a mass arrangement to the simplest of instrumentation.

"We toyed with the idea of a double album because we had so much material but instead we chopped end changed and eventually became more intimate with particular songs.

"I'd be dashing around the studio singing and then deciding on takes and overdubs, while Geoff did the engineering."


His wealth of material has almost meant that Costello as been in a position to write songs for other artists..

He penned three songs for Frida's solo album only to have them turned down and he's also been writing for the new Dusty Springfield album.

In addition he co-wrote and co-produced the latest Robert Wyatt single "Ship Building" with Clive Langer.

Costello's future plans include his Christmas shows at the Royal Albert Hall when he plans to use what he calls a "very special" horn section — but more than that he's not saying.

And already he's working on yet another set of songs for another album. The vultures must wait longer still.

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Record Mirror, October 16, 1982


Billy Sloan profiles Elvis Costello.

Images

1982-10-16 Record Mirror page 43.jpg
Page scan.

1982-10-16 Record Mirror cover.jpg
Cover.

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