Wednesday, October 8, 2014


 Lloyd Cole and the Commotions caused a stir with these jangle pop reflections of cosmopolitan academia blues.  Cole was born in Derbyshire, England and started the band while studying at the University of Glasgow. They were signed to Polydor Records and recorded their debut album 'Rattlesnakes' with producer Paul Hardiman at The Garden in east London.  The album features Neil Clark on lead guitar;  Lloyd Cole on vocals and guitar;  Blair Cowan on keyboards;  Lawrence Donegan on bass guitar; and Stephen Irvine on drums and tambourine.   String arrangements were done by Anne Dudley.  

The band became associated with a number of bands that had a similar sound.  Cole considers:  "Quite often there are what are seen as "movements" in music, and it's more like a conflict. A bunch of people at the same time... If you set up a sort of scientific experiment and apply A, B, and C to a scenario and see what follows on, the same thing's gonna happen in Durham and Manchester and Liverpool as it's going to happen to other cities in the north of England or Glasgow. The way the music scene had been going, the dominance in the early 80's of very synthetic Stock Aitken Waterman pop music... it was sort of inevitable that people would react in an opposite direction.  Some of the people decided to go in a manner that was clearly sort of revolutionary, like Jesus and Mary Chain, and other bands were saying, "Well, we still want to make pop music, we just want to make pop music that's got maybe something to it." For Prefab Sprout, the Smiths, and us.... it was not a bad time to be in the U.K. in '84, '85."

'Rattlesnakes' went to number thirteen in the British album chart.  Cole reflects on his literary aesthetic:  "Well it's very simple. If you're going to put energy into it, if you're gonna care about the lyrics being elegant, at least elegant, then... you have to do it, you have to put the work in, and if people care about it, they will appreciate it, and if people don't care about it, you still have to put the lyrics together in a manner where by being used to carry the melody, they're just like any other lyric.  So I don't think there's any reason not to do it the way I do it. I have some people that I've worked with... you can hear, you can hear on certain records that the songwriter doesn't value the lyric as much as he values the melody because you can tell that they're moving words around in a very uncomfortable manner just to carry a melody, and you can tell when people care about it also. There's room in music for all kinds of songwriters. I'm just one of those guys who wants the lyrics to be.... elegant is the word I like."


Jodie wears a hat although it hasn't rained for six days
She says a girl needs a gun these days
Hey on account of all the rattlesnakes

She looks like Eve Marie saint in on the waterfront
She reads Simone de Beauvoir in her American circumstance

She's less than sure if her heart has come to stay in San Jose
And her never-born child still haunts her
As she speeds down the freeway
As she tries her luck with the traffic police
Out of boredom more than spite
She never finds no trouble, she tries too hard
She's obvious despite herself

She looks like Eve Marie Saint in on the waterfront
She says all she needs is therapy, yeah
All you need is, love is all you need

Jodie never sleeps 'cause there are always needles in the hay
She says that a girl needs a gun these days
Hey on account of all the rattlesnakes

She looks like Eve Marie Saint in on the waterfront
As she reads Simone de Beauvoir in her American circumstance
Her heart, heart's like crazy paving
Upside down and back to front
She says "ooh, it's so hard to love
When love was your great disappointment."

"Perfect Skin"

I choose my friends only far too well
I'm up on the pavement, they're all down in the cellar
With their government grants and my I.Q.
They brought me down to size, academia blues
Louise is a girl, I know her well
She's up on the pavement, yes she's a weather girl
And I'm staying up here so I may be undone
She's inappropriate, but then she's much more fun and
When she smiles my way
My eyes go out in vain
She's got perfect skin
Shame on you, you've got no sense of grace, shame on me
Ah just in case I might come to a conclusion
Other than that which is absolutely necessary
And that's perfect skin
Louise is the girl with the perfect skin
She says turn on the light, otherwise it can't be seen
She's got cheekbones like geometry and eyes like sin
And she's sexually enlightened by cosmopolitan and
When she smiles my way
My eyes go out in vain
For her perfect skin
Yeah that's perfect skin
She takes me down to the basement to look at her slides
Of her family life, pretty weird at times
At the age of ten she looked like greta garbo
And I loved her then, but how was she to know that
When she smiles my way
My eyes go out in vain
She's got perfect skin
Up eight flights of stairs to her basement flat
Pretty confused huh, being shipped around like that
Seems we climbed so high now we're down so low
Strikes me the moral of this song must be there never has been one

"Forest Fire"

"Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken?"

full album:

All lyrics by Lloyd Cole, all music composed by Cole except where noted.

side one
"Perfect Skin" – 3:13
"Speedboat" – 4:37
"Rattlesnakes" (Cole, Neil Clark) – 3:28
"Down on Mission Street" – 3:49
"Forest Fire" – 4:34
side two
"Charlotte Street" – 3:55
"2cv" – 2:52
"Four Flights Up" (Cole, Lawrence Donegan) – 2:37
"Patience" (Cole, Blair Cowan) – 3:40
"Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken?" (Cole, Clark) – 3:06

"Beautiful City (Live At The Marquee (05/11/84))"

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