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.
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.