BRAND NEW FRIEND

Rattlesnakes, the debut album from Lloyd Cole & The Commotions, was universally acclaimed by the critics on release; it also sold in very respectable numbers, reaching #13 in the UK album charts. I was sure that all three singles lifted from it had brought success to the band, but only Perfect Skin cracked the Top 40, a feat that eluded both Forest Fire and Rattlesnakes.

As happens with so many newly successful acts, some of the music press turned against the band in the run-up to the release of the new material, with a number of writers accusing the frontman of being pretentious and aloof, taking him to task for this habit of dropping in the names of real people (the debut LP had namechecked Leonard Cohen, Eva Marie Saint, Truman Capote, Arthur Lee and Norman Mailer) into songs about fictional females called Louise, Julie, Jodie and Patience.

The opening line from the lead-off single in advance of the sophomore album, Easy Pieces, superbly stuck up stuck two fingers up at such critics, as he sets off for a stroll, under wet skies, with his buddies Jesus and Jane – and I’m pretty certain Jesus wasn’t, in this instance, just a Spanish boy’s name :-

mp3 : Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Brand New Friend

It really is a wonderful piece of pop music that has aged as beautifully and smoothly as a classic malt whisky, with perfect use of a drum machine,accordion, strings and soulful backing vocals.

It was a hit with the record buying public, giving the band their first Top 20 single in October 1985.

JC

10 thoughts on “BRAND NEW FRIEND

  1. Remember being slightly disappointed when it came out for basically not being rattlesnakes part 2 . However soon grew to love it and agree it has aged really well

  2. Agree with FoRW, but it did grow pretty quick and a track like “Why I Love Country Music” has become a favourite as years have went by.

  3. I felt the same as FORW there in that it seemed quite a disappointment of a follow up to Rattlesnakes. These days I like it just as much if not more. I’m not nearly as bothered about the soulful backing vocals, synths and drum machines as I was back then

  4. Easy Pieces is a deeply unloved album, and deserves immediate re-evaluation!
    Sure, like any album there’ a couple of less than great tracks (Minor Character seems inordinately half-arsed and ‘James’ is a bit plodding, but the good stuff? Ahh! The good stuff is great!
    The bigger than a warehouse opener of ‘Rich’ all booming drums and blasting brass is a technicolour, widescreen blockbuster for the ears.
    The winsome waltz of ‘Pretty Gone’, the clever wordsmithery of ‘Cut Me Down’ or the exquisite images of the frankly beautiful ‘Perfect Blue’ all are major stand out tracks that would propel a modern career to the stars.
    Unfortunately people gloss over ‘Easy Pieces’ for the comfy nostalgia of ‘Rattlesnakes’ which is indeed a masterpiece but its follow up had so much character and filled out the music, with more synths, brass sections and made great use of black backing vocalists.

    The overlooked middle child no more! Play ‘Easy Pieces’ today and embrace Lloyd and the Commotions at their most playful.

  5. I had “Rattlesnakes” and while, yes, it was in instant classic, felt that “Easy Pieces” was a strong follow up in that it branched out successfully from the vibe of the debut album. I felt that moving from folk-rock to include the technology discussed without throwing the baby with the bathwater was done with panache. As for Lloyd, this divorced his songs from the largely acoustic setting of the debut; showing that it was the song and not so much the methodology of their recording, that was the crux of why they were so accomplished. I think that he had to make those moves in order to validate his art.

  6. One thing to mention about Easy Pieces….and that’s the fact Lawrence Donegan has admitted, in a passage in one of his books (I think it’s the one where he worked as a journalist on a weekly paper in Ireland) that the notes of ‘Lost Weekend’ ripped-off Iggy Pop’s The Passenger.

    Doesn’t stop it from being another great 45.

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