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Don't Get Weird On Me Babe

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Album Review

Lloyd Cole's second solo album, 1991's Don't Get Weird on Me, Babe, was about a half-decade ahead of its time. If it had come out in 1996, after Richard Davies' Cardinal project, the High Llamas' Gideon Gaye, and the new belief in indie circles that Pet Sounds and Burt Bacharach were musical icons worthy of veneration, this would have slotted right in. In the year bracketed by My Bloody Valentine's Loveless and Nirvana's Nevermind, Don't Get Weird on Me, Babe (title courtesy of Raymond Carver) was considered a self-indulgent oddity. In retrospect, however, it's clearly one of Lloyd Cole's finest works. The album is divided into two distinct parts. One (the first half in the U.S., the second half everywhere else) is more of Cole's trademark literate, jangly guitar pop, featuring the sterling "Tell Your Sister" and the uncharacteristically rocking "She's a Girl and I'm a Man," the closest Cole ever came to an American hit single. This side features a core band of Fred Maher (who co-produced) on drums, Matthew Sweet on bass, and Robert Quine on guitar. That trio also appears on the other half of the album, but that set of six songs is dominated by a full orchestra arranged and conducted by Paul Buckmaster. Buckmaster's dramatic orchestrations add an entirely new dimension to the darker-edged songs without drowning them in Mantovani-style glop. In fact, the arrangements are rather low-key, especially on the haunting, hushed "Margo's Waltz," a gorgeous song with a jazzy bass part by Leland Sklar, subtle vibes, breathy female backing vocals, and almost subliminal brushed drums. Strongly reminiscent of Bacharach's most restrained '60s work — especially during ex-Commotion Blair Cowan's lovely Hammond B3 solos — "Margo's Waltz" is among the three or four best songs Cole has ever written. However, it's only one of many highlights on this exceptional, underrated album.

Biography

Born: 31 January 1961 in Buxton, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Through both his lauded work fronting the Commotions and his more eclectic solo efforts, Lloyd Cole established himself as one of the most articulate and acute songwriters of the post-punk era. Born January 31, 1961, in Buxton, England, Cole formed the Commotions in 1982 while studying philosophy at the University of Glasgow. Originally a large soul band, the group eventually trimmed itself down...
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Don't Get Weird On Me Babe, Lloyd Cole
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