In this week’s M Means Music podcast, host Daryl Easlea flashes back to 1982, where the story of Elvis Costello & Sixth studio album by The Attractions Imperial Room begin.

“As 1982 dawned, public mores were changing – the punk and new wave phenomena that Costello imposed on himself were more or less over, with bands either terminated, coming to the end of their cycle, or continuing in obscurity” , explains Easlea. “It was clear that Elvis Costello had the ability to be around for a long time, and Imperial Bedroom made the case for being his first true adult album.”

Imperial Room arrived in July 1982 after the Attractions retired to a cottage in Cornwall at the end of 1981 to write and arrange the record. Costello, for the first time, was primarily drawn to the piano during his writing process, rather than his usual attraction to the guitar.

“Our sessions were as luxurious in appearance as they were in generous duration,” Costello wrote in his biography. “We had booked 12 weeks of studio time, fantastic leeway, considering my first record was cut in 24 hours total and this year’s model in just eleven days.”

Easlea continues to break down the happy sound of the record, although its lead single “You Little Fool”, like much of the album, was seen as too complex. He explains: “There were too many. 50 minutes felt too long, and casual fans were put off by the fact that there were no chart hits on the album.

Regardless, Imperial Room arrived to critical acclaim. Peaked at No. 6 on the UK Official Albums Chart in July and stayed there for nearly three months with no massive singles to hold it in its place.

“The care and attention to every aspect is amazing, it was like Costello setting up his artisan shop in the alleyways amid pop malls,” Easlea concludes. “It’s his masterpiece; that moment when he began to escape the format and constriction he had endured; within a few years, he would definitely break out of the restrictions of a band format. Many people came to Imperial Bedroom after its release, and it continues to reveal its charms in an ever-graceful way. The detail throughout is amazing.

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