Another stab at an occasional series. This will look back at what I consider to have been an outstanding debut single that many years later has not only stood the test of time but reckoned by some out there never to have been bettered.

mp3 : Lloyd Cole and The Commotions – Perfect Skin

Perfect Skin by Lloyd Cole and The Commotions was released in May 1984. It enjoyed a ten-week stint in the Top 75, gradually but slowly making its way to #26 after seven weeks before falling away quite quickly. This demonstrates it was one of those songs that didn’t make an immediate impact on radio listeners and the record-buying public but the more familiar they became with it,  the more they appreciated it and the more numbers went out and spent money on it. After all, there was no other alternative as the frontman was a complete newcomer to the music scene although at least one of the backing band, Lawrence Donegan, had experienced some success with The Bluebells.

There’s a wonderful quote given by Lloyd in an interview to one of the UK music papers in 1984, just before debut LP Rattlesnakes was released:-

“If I hadn’t listened to ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ I could never have written ‘Perfect Skin’. I was totally drunk on Dylan at the time I wrote that song and all the imagery is deliberately Dylanesque. I thought, ‘why not be blatant?’ The only difference is, Dylan would have written a song like ‘Perfect Skin’ in an hour. It took me a week!”

I didn’t make that connection at the time as I wasn’t the slightest bit interested in Bob Dylan. All these years later, with my tastes thankfully less narrow than they were in my formative/poseur period, I do get it.

mp3 : Bob Dylan – Subterranean Homesick Blues

Perfect Skin was issued in 7″ and 12″ formats. Here’s the more than listenable b-sides, with the latter of them initially being exclusive to the 12″

mp3 : Lloyd Cole and The Commotions – The Sea and The Sand
mp3 : Lloyd Cole and The Commotions – You Will Never Be No Good

But was it the band’s finest 45?


That accolade goes to Rattlesnakes, released as the third single from the LP in November 84.



  1. It’s a great single but not the best, that for me was the follow-up Forest Fire, utterly sublime especially the extended version on the 12″. The guitar at the end always gives me shivers

  2. I think both Forest fire ( the guitar solo for people who don’t like guitar solos) and Rattlesnakes (one of the best singles by anyone) beat it. Andy’s Babies – b side the Forest Fire is my fav flipside of theirs , one of he few LD co writes

  3. Awesome – I’m a huge LC & the Commotions fan. He’s an English lit student’s musical muse, and I was studying English lit in college at the time.

  4. I always favored Perfect Skin over his subsequent singles. Too American to call it ‘cracking’ though.

  5. remember entering my local record store one morning when the guy unpacks just arrived new records, takes one of them out and puts it on the turntable. it takes me 30 seconds to realize i need that record, it’s obviously great. i’ll take a copy, i said, what is it?
    it’s the debut album by a scottish group, lloyd cole & the commotions, was the answer. i had apparently missed perfect skin as a single, still think rattlesnakes is THE stand-out track for me after that day. (forrest fire is a belter too!)

  6. A really great debut, each album had a cracking single; “Lost Weekend” and “Jennifer She Said”. I agree that “Rattlesnakes” is probably the finest 45, and has been a perfect start to the last couple of electric shows I’ve seen with The Leopards. However, for me the extended “Forest Fire” never fails to stir the emotions and highlights the talents of Neil Clark on guitar.

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