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Super Hot Stamper - Elvis Costello - Imperial Bedroom

The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.

Super Hot Stamper (Quiet Vinyl)

Elvis Costello
Imperial Bedroom

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Sonic Grade

Side One:

Side Two:

Vinyl Grade

Side One: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus

Side Two: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus

  • This excellent UK import pressing of Imperial Bedroom boasts Double Plus (A++) sound throughout - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Geoff Emerick engineered, creating a unique sound - forget the painfully bad domestic pressings, these imports are the only way to go
  • This dense, darkly serious album contains some of the best songs EC ever wrote - the last of his True Classics
  • 5 stars: "Costello's music is complex and intricate, yet it flows so smoothly, it's easy to miss the bitter, brutal lyrics...the detail and the ornate arrangements immediately peg Imperial Bedroom as Costello's most ambitious album."

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Six of Elvis's first seven albums received a Five Star rating from Allmusic, the exception being Almost Blue, and we generally would agree with that assessment (although Get Happy should probably also get Four Stars, not Five).

Which is to say that Elvis Costello is a brilliant artist whose albums work as albums, a fact that is in danger of being lost in a world of single-song downloads and greatest hits packages. We record-playing audiophiles are inclined to start at the beginning of a side and let it flow through to the end, and that is clearly the best way to appreciate and enjoy the work of this very gifted man.

Click on the Tracklist tab above to see a sample of some of the lyrics to a few of the songs on the album.

This vintage British pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn't showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to "see" the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It's what vintage all analog recordings are known for -- this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it -- not often, and certainly not always -- but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What The Best Sides Of Imperial Bedroom Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes even as late as in 1982
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio

No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

That Midrangy Sound

Some of that sound is baked-in, so to speak, meaning even the best pressings will have it. Geoff Emerick and Costello were not going for anything like the sound of Armed Forces or Trust (their two best-sounding albums from an audiophile perspective). They wanted Imperial Bedroom to have its own sound, a sound unique to this one album, and they clearly succeeded in carrying out that desire.

Which is a long way of saying that if you get a bad sounding copy of the album, don't be surprised. Most of them sound that way; the margin for error in the mastering and pressing stages is close to zero.

What We're Listening For On Imperial Bedroom

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next -- wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information -- fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering -- which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren't "back there" somewhere, way behind the speakers. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

British Only

The best British imports have the fullest, richest, most natural, least-EQ'd sound. The more of that sound they have -- along with freedom from smear, good frequency extension, vocal presence, rock energy, studio space and the like -- the higher the sonic grade.

No domestic copies we've ever played were all that much better than awful, by the way. Like most Elvis Costello albums -- but not all; an important caveat -- the British pressings are the only way to go if you are looking for audiophile sound.

Ah, but which British pressings? That's always the question, one which we have devoted many of our waking hours to answering. It took us a long time to get here, but we now have the copy that sounds the way we always wanted Imperial Bedroom to sound. 

Vinyl Condition

Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)

Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of later pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.

If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.

A Tough Record to Play

Imperial Bedroom is a Difficult Record to Reproduce. Do not attempt to play it using anything other than the highest quality equipment.

Unless your system is firing on all cylinders, even our hottest Hot Stamper copies -- the Super Hot and White Hot pressings with the biggest, most dynamic, clearest, and least distorted sound -- can have problems. Your system should be thoroughly warmed up, your electricity should be clean and cooking, you've got to be using the right room treatments, and we also highly recommend using a demagnetizer such as the Walker Talisman on the record, your cables (power, interconnect and speaker) as well as the individual drivers of your speakers.

This is a record that's going to demand a lot from the listener, and we want to make sure that you feel you're up to the challenge. If you don't mind putting in a little hard work, here's a record that will reward your time and effort many times over, and probably teach you a thing or two about tweaking your gear in the process (especially your VTA adjustment, just to pick an obvious area many audiophiles neglect).

With a sampling of some of our favorite lyrics.

Side One

  • Beyond Belief
  • History repeats
    the old conceits
    The glib replies,
    the same defeats
    Keep your finger on important issues
    With crocodile tears and a pocketful of tissues


    I've got a feeling
    I'm going to get a lot of grief
    Once this seemed
    so appealing
    Now I am
    beyond belief

  • Tears Before Bedtime
  • Shabby Doll
  • The Long Honeymoon
  • Man Out of Time
  • Almost Blue
  • Almost blue
    Almost doing things
    we used to do
    There's a girl here
    and she's almost you
    All the things that your eyes once promised
    I see in hers too
    Now your eyes are red from crying

  • And in Every Home

Side Two

  • The Loved Ones
  • Don't get smart
    or sarcastic
    He snaps back
    just like elastic
    Spare us the theatrics
    and the verbal gymnastics
    We break wise guys
    just like matchsticks

  • Human Hands
  • Kid About It
  • Little Savage
  • Boy With a Problem
  • Pidgin English
  • You Little Fool
  • Town Cryer

AMG 5 Star Rave Review

Having gotten country out of his system with Almost Blue, Elvis Costello returned to pop music with Imperial Bedroom -- and it was pop in the classic, Tin Pan Alley sense. Costello chose to hire Geoff Emerick, who engineered all of the Beatles' most ambitious records, to produce Imperial Bedroom, which indicates what it sounds like -- it's traditional pop with a post-Sgt. Pepper production.

Essentially, the songs on Imperial Bedroom are an extension of Costello's jazz and pop infatuations on Trust. Costello's music is complex and intricate, yet it flows so smoothly, it's easy to miss the bitter, brutal lyrics.

The interweaving layers of "Beyond Belief" and the whirlwind intro are the most overtly dark sounds on the record, with most of the album given over to the orchestrated, melancholy torch songs and pop singles.

Never once do Costello & the Attractions deliver a rock & roll song -- the album is all about sonic detail, from the accordion on "The Long Honeymoon" to the lilting strings on "Town Cryer."

Of course, the detail and the ornate arrangements immediately peg Imperial Bedroom as Costello's most ambitious album.