28 Songs, 1 Hour, 32 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Lloyd Cole & The Commotion’s 1984 debut album, Rattlesnakes, practically defines the sound of mid-‘80s college rock with its cold, jangly guitar lines, its modest-for-the-era production and its soulful yet detached vocals from leader Lloyd Cole. While today tunes such as “Perfect Skin,” “Rattlesnakes” and “Forest Fire” sound like completely normal, literate pop songs (with references to Eva Marie Saint and Joan Didion), back upon first release, they were treated like alien missives by the mainstream who promptly ignored them. But the group is practically a classic rock band cloaked in indie-rock production. “Speedboat” shifts its mood from its Tom Verlaine-like vocals and moments of quiet contemplation to bursts of Midwestern U.S. organ textures that take the band a long way from their University of Glasgow, Scotland roots. “Down On Mission Street” aches with the ghosts of Robyn Hitchcock and the Soft Boys’ version of pop music. The deluxe edition includes b-sides (“Glory,” “Jesus Said,” “Sweetness,” “The Sea and the Sand,” “You Will Never Be No Good”) and live tracks (“Forest Fire,” “Charlotte Street”) and even a demo (“Perfect Skin”) that present a complete picture of the band’s early days.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Lloyd Cole & The Commotion’s 1984 debut album, Rattlesnakes, practically defines the sound of mid-‘80s college rock with its cold, jangly guitar lines, its modest-for-the-era production and its soulful yet detached vocals from leader Lloyd Cole. While today tunes such as “Perfect Skin,” “Rattlesnakes” and “Forest Fire” sound like completely normal, literate pop songs (with references to Eva Marie Saint and Joan Didion), back upon first release, they were treated like alien missives by the mainstream who promptly ignored them. But the group is practically a classic rock band cloaked in indie-rock production. “Speedboat” shifts its mood from its Tom Verlaine-like vocals and moments of quiet contemplation to bursts of Midwestern U.S. organ textures that take the band a long way from their University of Glasgow, Scotland roots. “Down On Mission Street” aches with the ghosts of Robyn Hitchcock and the Soft Boys’ version of pop music. The deluxe edition includes b-sides (“Glory,” “Jesus Said,” “Sweetness,” “The Sea and the Sand,” “You Will Never Be No Good”) and live tracks (“Forest Fire,” “Charlotte Street”) and even a demo (“Perfect Skin”) that present a complete picture of the band’s early days.

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About Lloyd Cole

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 to a quintet that included keyboardist Blair Cowan, guitarist Neil Clark, bassist Lawrence Donegan, and drummer Stephen Irvine.

The uncommon quality of Cole's songwriting earned the Commotions a contract with British Polydor, and in 1984, they debuted with Rattlesnakes, a wry, heartfelt record of jangling guitar pop stuffed with references to the likes of Jules et Jim, Simone de Beauvoir, Norman Mailer, and On the Waterfront. "Perfect Skin," the shimmering first single, reached the U.K. Top 30. Produced by the hitmaking team of Alan Winstanley and Clive Langer, 1985's Easy Pieces was a slicker effort that included the singles "Lost Weekend" and "Brand New Friend," both of which earned significant airplay on alternative radio outlets.

Following the release of 1987's Mainstream, Cole disbanded the Commotions and moved to New York City to establish himself as a solo performer. There he joined forces with noted session drummer Fred Maher, who enlisted ex-Voidoid Robert Quine on guitar and an up-and-coming singer/songwriter named Matthew Sweet to play bass for Cole's eponymously titled 1990 solo debut, which continued much in the vein of his work with the Commotions. Released in 1991, Don't Get Weird on Me, Babe marked a major artistic shift, as the entire second half of the album explored lush, string-sweetened cabaret music, arranged by Paul Buckmaster (known for his work with Elton John and the Rolling Stones).

Commercial success continued to elude Cole, however, and it took 1993's Bad Vibes -- a diverse effort touching upon psychedelia and electronics -- a year to find U.S. distribution. By the time of 1995's Love Story, his sound had come full circle; a return to the more minimalist, folk-rock-inspired work with the Commotions -- the LP not coincidentally marked Cole's reunion with the band's guitarist, Neil Clark. The new millennium sparked a new union for Cole, for his 2001 album The Negatives not only showcased the album's namesake, but the name of his new band. Collaborations with Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne, Ivy), Jill Sobule, and Michael Kotch (Vitamin C, Eve's Plum) were featured on the new record, as well as production credits from Stephen Street (the Smiths, Blur). Extensive touring followed. During the same year, Cole released two lower-key albums of solo material: Etc (Lost Songs, Tunes 1996-2000) and the entirely instrumental, electronic Plastic Wood.

Cole resurfaced in 2004 with the understated Music in a Foreign Language LP. Recorded largely at home, the album featured a cover of Nick Cave's "People Ain't No Good." In 2006, Anti-Depressant -- in which Cole compellingly dealt with the positive and negative aspects of aging -- was released. Broken Record followed four years later. The 2013 album Standards was co-funded by fans and featured contributions from Fred Maher and Matthew Sweet. Cole released an interesting electronic record, Selected Studies, Vol.1 in March 2013 with the Krautrock legend Hans-Joachim Roedelius. It received favorable reviews and provided another unique chapter in Cole's distinguished career. The following year, Cole curated Kollektion 02, a retrospective compilation of Roedelius' music. In 2015, Cole released 1D Electronics 2012-2014, a collection of solo modular synthesizer experiments originally recorded for his collaboration with Roedelius.

Taking a break from his burgeoning career as a synth boffin, Cole spent time working on a box set comprised of the complete recordings made with the Commotions. Collected Recordings was released in 2015, and he and his backing band the Leopards hit the road to promote it. Hardly missing a beat, Cole released another box set in 2017, In New York: Collected Recordings 1988-1996, made up of four albums, one unreleased set, and a disc of demos. ~ Jason Ankeny

  • ORIGIN
    Buxton, England
  • BORN
    January 31, 1961

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