2001 rolled around and quite incredibly, Lloyd Cole released two CDs worth of music on XIII Bis Records, the label that had ensured The Negatives material got to see the light of day the previous year.

Both albums were released on the same day but they couldn’t have been any more diverse.

Etc. was, more or less, the lost album of 1996 which had been caught up in the record label wrangles I referred to a couple of weeks back. It’s an acoustic, at times folksy/country album, consisting of fully realised songs, demos and covers. Lloyd’s voice had rarely sounded more impressive, almost as if he was determined to make it as much of an instrument within the sounds he was creating, never straining for notes and delivering every word in a clear and concise manner. It’s a beautiful record, one which reflected the way he was now earning his living as live musician, touring solo with just a couple of guitars…no support acts, splitting his sets into two halves with an interval for the audience to enjoy a drink, loads of entertaining stories in between the music as he reminisced about his career and giving his audience the songs that most had come along to hear – the Commotions hits reinterpreted in an Unplugged fashion.

mp3 : Lloyd Cole – Old Enough To Know Better
mp3 : Lloyd Cole – Memphis
mp3 : Lloyd Cole – Fool You Are (demo)

The middle track is a cover of the song written by the actress Karen Black that she had performed in Nashville, the 1975 hit movie directed by Robert Altman. Lloyd’s version features Matt Johnston of The The on backing vocals.

The other CD was Plastic Wood, consisting of 19 tracks of ambient electonica across 45 minutes, with all keyboards played by Lloyd himself. It was totally unexpected and unsurprisingly it divided opinion.

I don’t listen to enough music of the genre to determine if it’s very good or an amateurish effort when compared to the acclaimed masters. It’s an album I’ve rarely returned to over the years and indeed I went as far as deleting it from the i-tunes library so as to prevent the tracks getting in the way of any occasion when I wanted a Lloyd Cole mixfest. It is worth, however, drawing your attention to this allmusic review of Plastic Wood with the writer very keen to offer praise.

I looked for but couldn’t find the CD where it should be on the shelf which means I’ve either filed it in the wrong place (and I’ve neither the time nor energy to search for it) or I’ve forgotten about loaning it out to someone at some point.  If it’s the latter and you’re reading this, then I’ll willingly take it back without the imposition of a fine.


4 thoughts on “LLOYD COLE THE SOLO YEARS : 2001

  1. Perfect summary. I never bought plastic wood but he continues to record electronic lps and occasionally plays at specialist events often with other artists. I guess it stems from his love of Low. I came across somewhere a letter he had written to his son about Low. It is a fantastic bit of writing and sums up the how as you get older and have children that desire to share with them the music you love , the hope that they will share the feelings you have and the realisation that this probably won’t be the case as they make their own discoveries

  2. In a very bizarre coincidence, my uncle from the Bronx who moved to Tennessee in the 60’s appeared in a few scenes in Nashville. He even got in a couple of lines. Altman was shooting in his office building and needed some local businessmen as extras. My uncle can be seen in his awesome mid-70’s suit and major sideburns, walking around pretending to be Karen Black’s agent.

  3. I did not know about “Plastic Wood” when I first heard of his collaboration with Roedelius on “Selected Studies Vol. 1” in 2013. You could have knocked me over with a feather. I had no idea of any movement in this direction from Cole, who I had lost track of in the early 90s. Moreover, when a guy is known for his incisive lyrical efforts, the notion of him pursuing a thread in ambient, instrumental electronics seems counterintuitive. But as long as he did it as wonderfully as on “Selected Studies Vol. 1” I could care less! It was afterward when I heard of “Plastic Wood” which at least provided a context for such a direction. (FLASH FORWARD FIVE YEARS) I still don’t have “Plastic Wood” since it is one of those albums which are very scarce on the ground, especially in America. But I’d buy it in a heartbeat based on what I heard on the Roedelius album.

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