From The Desk Of Joe Pernice: Elvis Costello’s “Imperial Bedroom”

JoePerniceFor more than a decade, the Pernice Brothers have mostly made plush, romantic orchestral pop that doesn’t gild the lily once tended by the Zombies, Walker Brothers and Elvis Costello. True to frontman Joe Pernice’s working-class nature, the band’s sixth and latest album, Goodbye, Killer (Ashmont), does away with the sighing string section and goes straight for the guitars, from the mod-rock riffing of “Jacqueline Susann” to the Teenage Fanclub power-pop of “Something For You.” After a four-year spell between albums, the Pernice Brothers return with their leanest and most efficient effort to date. Pernice will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new Q&A with him.

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Pernice: OK, this is my final post. It must be about music. And it must be superlative. So here you go. I would never say such-and-such an album is the greatest album of all time because the ensuing debate would be tied with “which religion is better” for the most boring way to spend my ever-shrinking time on Earth. But for my money, the one album I’d choose to own if I could only own one is … Elvis Costello’s Imperial Bedroom. There you go. But I think this “desert island record” stuff is a bunch of bunk. Think about it. What state would the world have to be in for someone with the obvious authority to say, “OK, Joe, we’re moving you to this desert island, and you can only take one record with you.” To that I’d say, “Fuck the record. How about a lifetime supply of toothpaste and brushes. Maybe some penicillin and hunting and fishing gear. How about a fertile, lovely genius to help me repopulate the place?” A record? What the fuck am I going to do on a desert island with an LP? Do I get a turntable? How am I going to power the turntable, rig some monkey-driven Gilligan’s Island bamboo job? Seems like way too much work to listen to a record. Ever have giardia? Well I have not, and I don’t plan on contracting it sipping from a lemur’s toilet, listening to a record when I should have been helping my genius breeding partner concoct some sort of water-purification system. Desert island record. Please. It’s like the IRS telling you that you shouldn’t worry because even in the event of a wide scale catastrophic nuclear event, the U.S. government is prepared to continue collecting and spending tax dollars. Oh, really? Good luck. “Sorry, I seem to have to have lost my billfold in the blast. I do, however, have a surplus of poisonous seared flesh.” I could definitely live quite happily without Imperial Bedroom or any other album for that matter. I don’t want to, but I could. Now go listen to Imperial Bedroom, then read Maslow’s “Hierarchy Of Needs.”

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3 Comments

  1. jb
    Posted July 4, 2010 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    I find nothing to disagree with here.

  2. The Dude
    Posted July 4, 2010 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    Can anyone, anywhere, name a singer-songwriter still at it who’s produced a more consistent body of work, with the fewest number of missteps, since 1976? I’d sure like to know.

    The value of E.C.’s contributions to pop/rock over the last 35 years simply can’t be overstated.

    In 100 years, if there’s any justice at all, he will be held in as high esteem in rock as Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart are of the classical music world today.

  3. Posted July 13, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    To me, ‘This Years Model’ was THE alterative album of the 70’s. Then there was the 80’s and then in the 90’s there was the Scud Mountain Boys ‘Massachusetts’. The 70’s(especially the late) was a great time for tunes and it wasn’t until Joe’s body of work that I regained that listening pleasure. I thank all my artists for the tunes that resonate in and around my head.