Those Elvis Costello fans confused and disappointed by his foray into country music with 1981’s Almost Blue didn’t have to wait long for his return to the sort of musical experimentation he started with Trust.
In 1982, he released Imperial Bedroom, his most ambitious and intricate album yet. Produced by Geoff Emerick, who served as the engineer on several Beatles classics, this record was Costello’s Sgt. Pepper’s — packed to the brim with musical flourishes, including a full orchestra on some tracks.
Track seven of Elvis Costello’s Look Now, ‘Mr. and Mrs. Hush’ is one of the most fun songs on the album.
This is the funkiest, grooviest track on Look Now but it doesn’t feel out of place. Costello has a way of skipping through genres on a single album without sacrificing the cohesiveness of the whole. This might be his Imperial Bedroom meets Painted From Memory album, but that doesn’t mean he can’t slip in a little Get Happy!! or Trust.
Wonder of wonders, the musical gods have graced us with a new Elvis Costello album, his first proper release since 2010’s National Ransom. He did drop 2013’s Wise Up Ghost alongside The Roots, but that collection of reworked tracks hardly counts as new material.
But this album, Look Now, is a dive back into the deep, lovely waters of classic Costello. It contains shades of his masterpiece Imperial Bedroom as well as underrated 90s gems Mighty Like a Rose and Brutal Youth. It also owes more than a little to Painted From Memory, his 1998 collaboration with Burt Bacharach, and indeed Bacharach co-wrote three of its songs.
Here’s a nifty little New Wave cut from Elvis Costello’s second album, 1978’s This Year’s Model.
Costello has spent the last two decades or so in elder statesman mode, releasing chamber orchestra and country folk albums, so it’s easy to forget what a scrappy, literate punk rocker he was back in the day.
The Random iTunes Fairy was definitely in an Elvis Costello mood today. The first spin of the dial turned up an alternate version of Imperial Bedroom‘s ‘Kid About It,’ which already had its moment in the Random Weekend spotlight in April of 2013.
My second try landed on ‘Tokyo Storm Warning,’ one of a few epic tracks on 1986’s Blood & Chocolate.