As the series is alphabetical, it should come as no surprise following his appearance last week that Mr Cole is back, this time with the backing band that first brought him to the attention of the public.
Lloyd Cole and the Commotions were a British pop band that formed in Glasgow, Scotland in 1982. Between 1984 and 1989, the band scored four Top 20 albums and five Top 40 singles in the UK. After breaking up in 1989, Cole embarked on a solo career but the band reformed briefly in 2004 to perform a 20th anniversary mini-tour of the UK and Ireland.
The band were formed whilst Cole (who was born in Derbyshire, England) was studying at the University of Glasgow. They signed to Polydor Records; their debut single “Perfect Skin” reaching number 26 in the UK charts in Spring 1984, while the second single “Forest Fire” reached 41. The first album, Rattlesnakes, was released in October 1984. Produced by Paul Hardiman and featuring string arrangements by Anne Dudley, the album peaked at No. 13 in the UK and was certified Gold for sales over 100,000 copies. NME included in its Top 100 Albums of All-Time list, and the title track was later covered by the American singer Tori Amos. The Welsh band Manic Street Preachers included the album amongst their top ten list.
Due to the insistence of their label, the follow-up album, Easy Pieces, was produced by Clive Langer & Alan Winstanley (who had previously produced Madness, The Teardrop Explodes and Elvis Costello and the Attractions). Released in November 1985, the album was a much quicker commercial success than its predecessor (entering the UK album chart at No. 5 and certified gold within a month). The singles “Brand New Friend” and “Lost Weekend” were the band’s first and only UK Top 20 hits (reaching No. 19 and No. 17 respectively).
Two years later, the band released their third and final album, Mainstream. Produced by Ian Stanley (former writer and keyboard-player of Tears for Fears), the album peaked at No. 9 in the UK and was also certified gold, but contained only one UK Top 40 single, “Jennifer She Said” (No. 31).
In 1989, the band decided to split up and released a “best of” compilation, 1984-1989, which was their fourth Top 20 album (UK No. 14) and fourth Gold certification. Following this, Cole embarked on a solo career with the release of his self-titled album in 1990.
On the first two Commotions albums, Cole was the band’s main songwriter (though he co-wrote several songs with various bandmembers). The third album is credited to the band as a whole, though Cole remained the sole lyricist. Particularly notable were Cole’s knowingly pretentious lyrics (he was studying philosophy at the University of Glasgow when the band started) and namedropping the likes of Norman Mailer, Leonard Cohen, Arthur Lee, Grace Kelly, Truman Capote, Simone de Beauvoir, Nancy Sinatra, and Eva Marie Saint as well as referring to Sean Penn (somewhat sympathetically) as “Mr. Madonna”.
Cole moved to New York City and later to New England to pursue a solo career with Polydor/Capitol Records and later appeared on Rykodisc, before establishing self-published entities in the United States. His solo career has found him collaborating with the late Robert Quine, Fred Maher, Dave Derby and Jill Sobule.
Clark continued working with Cole on almost all of his solo releases and full band tours. He was also a member of the short-lived group Bloomsday, with Irvine (of the Commotions) and Chris Thomson of The Bathers.
Cowan collaborated with Cole and his new backing band in New York on Cole’s first two solo albums. He played with Del Amitri, Paul Quinn and the Independent Group, the Kevin McDermott Orchestra and Texas but is today an IT-specialist at British Telecom.
Donegan is a journalist and an author – he is a golf journalist and Scotland correspondent for The Guardian and published several non-fiction titles, including No News at Throat Lake and Four Iron in the Soul.
Irvine joined former bandmate Clark in Bloomsday and, as a session musician, worked with Del Amitri, Etienne Daho and Sarah Cracknell. He is also managing artists and bands.
Don’t know about the rest of you, but the fact that Lost Weekend was their biggest hit was a surprise to me. It was one of the few songs that bassist Lawrence Donegan gained a writing credit, and in one of his excellent books he acknowledges that the the tune has more than a passing resemblance to The Passenger by Iggy Pop.
I’ve a few Lloyd Cole & The Commotions singles in the collection and have decided to go with the biggest hit….mainly becuase it has one of the strangest intros of any record (it sounds as if it is playing at the wrong speed!) and also for proof that more doesn’t necessarily mean best as the compact 7″ version is by far superior:-
mp3 : Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Lost Weekend (Extended Version)
mp3 : Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Big World
mp3 : Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Nevers End
mp3 : Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Lost Weekend (7″ version)