The Lotus Eaters were part of that great Liverpool scene of the early 80s, albeit as a band they came along after the demise of Zoo Records albeit their individual members were around at that time.

Jem Kelly had been a member of The Wild Swans whose Revolutionary Spirit/God Forbid 12″ was arguably the best 45 ever released by Zoo. Their break-up had seen vocalist Paul Simpson go off and form Care alongside Ian Broudie. Kelly, who had written the music for the Zoo singles hooked up with Peter Coyle who had sung with a number of local bands that hadn’t made any breakthrough. They turned out, initially, to be an ideal match for one another.

Such was the affection that listeners had for The Wild Swans, this new band were invited to record a session for the John Peel Show before they had signed any deal. This session, in October 1982, created a bit of a stir and a bidding war for the band, largely on the basis of one of the songs – The First Picture Of You – that had been aired during the session.

In due course, the band would sign to Arista Records for what was allegedly a decent sum of money. The first single, released in July 1983, was no surprise.

mp3 : The Lotus Eaters – The First Picture Of You (12″ version)

It’s a wonderfully, dreamy, laid back piece of pop music that climbed all the way to #15 in the singles charts, spending three months in the chart. The b-sides were decent too…

mp3 : The Lotus Eaters – The Lotus Eaters
mp3 : The Lotus Eaters – Stranger So Far (Peel Session)

Big things were expected of the band. But to everyone’s disappointment, the follow-up single was a flop, failing to hit the Top 40.

mp3 : The Lotus Eaters – You Don’t Need Someone New

The next four months were spent working on the debut LP with a variety of producers and in April 1984 what was regarded as the strongest new song was released as the band’s third single:-

mp3 : The Lotus Eaters – Set Me Apart

It sold even more poorly than the sophomore effort. All the hopes and aspirations from the time leading up to the release of the single were gone. Record company interest totally diminished almost overnight and the release of the debut LP, No Sense of Sin, was greeted with huge indifference thanks to a non-existent marketing/media campaign.

Twelve months later it was all over.

In the immediate aftermath, Jem Kelly reformed The Wild Swans while Peter Coyle recorded some solo material before immersing himself in the dance scene of the late 80s/early 90s.

And now to the postscript.

In 2001 there was a reunion of The Lotus Eaters with a new album on a Japanese-owned indie label along with some live shows. Nothing much happened for another eight years as the two protagonists did their own things in academia but in July 2009, there was seemingly a one-off concert at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, with a string quartet, to play the songs from No Sense of Sin. The interest in and reaction to that show led to a another album of new songs in 2010 along with promotional tours of the UK and Japan. There’s been various rumours of them working together more recently but nothing concrete has emerged.

All I have in the collection is the debut single. It’s on vinyl and its more than a third of a century old. That’s my excuse for the occasional hiss, pop, crackle and jump you might hear.

Oh and here’s a copy of the Peel Session version that caused such a stir:-

mp3 : The Lotus Eaters – The First Picture Of You (Peel Session)

It is VERY Wild Swans.  Easy to see why so many record company folk were keen.



  1. It is a very good single. I bought the second one on picture disc which I think I quite liked at the time but sounds dreadfully dated now,

  2. Ive got one of the later lps you mention , pleasant enough but nothing that gets close to this. Always associate it with another 1 hit band , fiction factory’s feels like heaven. Not sure why

  3. Just watched them on the ToTP 1983 reruns this weekend – They just looked so young and shell-shocked to be on that show (and obviously not too proud to do it either) but brought back fond memories of First Picture Of You.

    I know what you mean about the Fiction Factory association but same year, same sound and look makes sense.

  4. I have this 12″ too, as well as No Sense of Sin. The single is an all-timer for me. Not only have I never heard anything else, but I never knew anything else existed. Wondering if these albums from this century are worth seeking out. I’m not surprised the band is a big deal in Japan. The Wild Swans are still huge there and in the Philippines.

  5. I’m afraid I’m a bit of a Lotus Eaters fanatic…I have all the initial releases, the Japanese release (though I haven’t seen it for a while) and the 2010 release as well. No Sense Of Sin really had an affect on me. It is an essential part of my Liverpool Scene selection of albums. I’ve followed both as solo artist with Peter Coyle having been more prolific. His second solo album has one of the greatest titles of all time – I’d Sacrifice Eight Orgasms With Shirley Maclaine Just To Be There…

  6. Much as I love First Picture and like the follow-up, I’d never been inclined to check out the album or make the effort to find out what happened next. So thanks for this piece.

  7. Inspired to listen to No Sense Of Sin again this evening, I don’t get why Can You Keep A Secret wasn’t picked as the follow up single…it hit all the right notes for the time and is just wonderful really.

  8. They had another single enjoying cult popularity in the Philippines called “German Girl”. No idea if it could be classified as MOR; it’s not as poetic as the others, but the atmosphere is there.

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