Lloyd Cole and the Commotions – 1984-1989

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 2)

I came to this backwards, having first learned of Lloyd Cole as a solo artist, whose work I didn’t find particularly special. I think I got this roughly in the same period as Rattlesnakes (finding either was not easy), and I am glad I did. I definitely prefer Cole from his early days, though I would be willing to relisten to some of the solo stuff. Cole has worked with Robert Quine (Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Lou Reed, Matthew Sweet) and Fred Maher (Lou Reed, Matthew Sweet, Scritti Politi, Luna). Most of the Commotions ended up playing with Cole on his solo albums. Bassist Lawrence Donegan went on to become a journalist and author, including the golf journalist for The Guardian. As it turns out, Cole is reportedly an accomplished golfer, having grown up on the Glasgow Golf Club, where both his parents worked.

What I Think of This Album

Lloyd Cole is pretentious as fuck. Fortunately, he has at least three things going for him to balance things out:  his songs are incredibly tuneful; he has the benefit of a skilled band, particularly guitarist Neil Clark; and he seems to traffic much more in irony than earnestness (though this could just be my own wishful thinking).

Cole and his band released three albums from 1984-1987, and this compilation democratically selects four tracks from each, with the bonus of B-sides “You Will Never Be No Good” and “Her Last Fling.”

I’ve already addressed the Rattlesnakes tracks in that post. The reward is that the others are basically just as good. The Easy Pieces tracks are more keyboard-and-strings heavy and definitely glossier than the earlier material, but the songwriting and Cole’s performances are excellent. The melody of “Brand New Friend” equals anything on Rattlesnakes, and while the faux-gospel backing vocals are distracting, the fact remains that this is a great song.

Similarly, the tune in “Cut Me Down” is wonderful, and Clark does a fine job with the chiming guitar part. And “Lost Weekend” is brilliant, marrying lyrics that border on self-pity to a sardonic delivery and lively melody, with a stellar jangly guitar line from Clark. This song does seem to borrow quite a bit from Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger.”

There is a delicate grace to “Mr. Malcontent,” with a fine vocal from Cole (though the keyboard intro is def weird). “My Bag” hearkens back to the guitar-dominant sound of the debut, though with a funky-soul edge (don’t worry, it works). “Jennifer She Said” has a great chorus and lush strings.

Gary Barnacle (the Clash) played brass on Easy Pieces, produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley. Meanwhile, Ian Stanley of Tears for Fears produced the Mainstream songs.

The Best Thing About This Album

“Lost Weekend” is pretty funny and sounds great.

Release Date

June, 1989

The Cover Art

Some of this works, some of it doesn’t. I dig the ribbon and the small font. The shot is nice, too, and while the colors are fine, I think the whole thing is too washed out. This makes me think of the Go-Betweens song “Draining the Pool for You.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Baskerville 2 by Anders Noren.

Up ↑