Wednesday, 3 July 2013

back from the dead !!!!

Let's get this out the way first, I have been shit with this Blog for the past.. god knows how long. I could make a series of valid excuses, but then this blog isn't about me , so I won't !

by Lloyd Cole now in the shops or already in your home if you were one of the 600 who pre-ordered this and helped to fund the project. I am aware that I have yet to grapple with Cole's recent instrumental piece -Selected Studies 1 and have jumped straight to the 'Mainstream' offering but I will come to the other piece later on.
Standards, do I have any? Yes and they are very high where music is involved. Broken Record has kept me satisfied since it's release and there has been so much more revealed on every listen, the gift that keeps on giving, and all that. Standards, what did I expect? Play it safe, build on Broken Record in terms of it's critical reception, this wouldn't have been a bad thing . Teaming up with Fred Maher & Matthew Sweet, who we last encountered on Bad Vibes (20 years ago already?) no I didn't see that coming. It seems that Cole has also been on a little rant about being 'niche' and 'cult' and having to pander to industry expectations, media PR circuits and the like, but it is hard to imagine a singer/songwriter who comes across as very restrained, considered and pre-meditated exploding out of the speakers possessed by some latent demonic vitriol. That's not to say Cole causing a commotion would be something unwelcome, I for one would be very interested to hear the rage against something, anything-unleashed against the post ironic ennui.
And Standards, Cole has also set himself against the Dylan benchmark referring to Dylan's Tempest and his general Fuck the audience stance. This comes as something of a relief , as I was working my way through recent interviews and features an overriding sense of 'jacking it in' was beginning to take hold, none of us want that, and as for the audience 'having enough Lloyd Cole records' I'm not sure you could make enough, in the same way that I have yet to be bored by Cohen or John Cale for that matter. L.C's comment about the new Bowie L.P being the best since '82 but he would only listen to it the once is very telling, but only about an artist of that sort of stature, it's a bit like going to see a Stones concert now, more about the spectacle of something historic than the quality of what that band are producing artistically at that moment, a kind of Rock National Trust concert. Thankfully L.C is anything but this type of artist , even if financially he wouldn't mind too much, and the fact that he is still crafting and honing records rather than banging them out so that the next tour can have a nice 'theme' goes to show how much he really does still care about what he is doing , despite the fact that he is struggling to win any new listeners. It should also be remembered that Dylan himself struggled for sometime as the songwriters songwriter with covers of his records far outselling his own versions, and once again Tim Hardin and also Cohen wasn't really setting the charts alight between Suzanne and First we take Manhattan, granted record sales counted for a lot more in terms of income at that point, but all the same we got to enjoy some amazing work from some hugely underrated artists for a sizable period of their careers.
Standards then, what an arresting piece of work . California Earthquake , beautifully re imagined and typically off kilter cover choice, and now costing me money ordering John Hartford's back catalogue as I am now hooked, cheers. Women's Studies thankfully didn't hurt my wallet anywhere near as much as Josef K  has been on the shelf for some time, nice nods towards Kafka and the Scottish post punk scene , fast product from Prague, nice. Would be interested to find out if the great wall of china reference is the Kafka short story or the Dead Kennedys track, as both sort of fit. Anyway nice jigsaw! I like the fact that the 'Young and Stupid' line ties in nicely with Josef K as well , had a lot of wry smiling listening to this record. The Howard Zinn/Springsteen juxtaposition early on works beautifully also, this song reminds me of checking through references on Rattlesnakes and easy pieces as cod-intellectual teenager, and I thoroughly enjoyed reliving the sensation. I struggled a little with 'Monday Morning Quarters' but had to make the assumption that this is an American sporting idiom referring to making a judgement in hindsight, after the event ? Music is absolutely addictive, I am a little confused by the 'media' trend that this is L.C's first time working with a band for x amount of years or sentiments to that tune, surely there was a band involved in the creation of Broken Record or am I missing something here?  Period Piece - this is what L.C is all about , extended metaphor, dualism, clinical statistics- all  made human by incorporating them into his personal experience . The idea of the Geisterbahnhofe flickering into life as the old order passes is as beautiful an Image as Cole has laid down anywhere for my money and weaves cinematically throughout the song conjuring Scott Walker's Stalin, the legendary Bowie/Iggy associations with Hansa , not to mention the mythology behind the Formers 'Heroes'. The dualism invoked by referencing Dickens' Tale of two cities , strikes me as a theme that runs trough the entire album, the pairs in opposite studies, the myrtle and the rose, 'bipartisan consensus' in women's studies . Stunning video also, Cole mentioned in an interview once that he and the commotions had kind of missed a trick with the video age, I don't think I have ever been more delighted by a collection of videos from Jennifer through Baby, So you'd like to save the world is particularly fantastic, and Period Piece is subtle, beautiful film making extending the Wall metaphor as a division with his past and the generational divide.
Myrtle and Rose -I have been struggling with the title, I am no doubt missing something blatantly obvious but then , if I am honest, this reminds me of the lure of buying Lloyd Cole albums in the first place. For me they were something to unravel, explore, a sphinx like quality always drew me back again and again. Also I am somewhat stupid. I did find that also I might be trying to hard and when the refrain The longer you were gone the less the longing kicked in I found my feet. During my research I did come across some lines by a German Poet that were rather interesting " with myrtles and roses...I would decorate this book like a coffin and bury my songs inside it" which I found  quite relevant considering L.C's recent musings on his lot. Also this song had echoes of work from Music in a foreign language , which is a win win situation from my point of view.
No Truck all I can say is I love this! The music reminds me of a composite of undressed and trigger happy which are two of my favourite songs, the sentiment is like a slight change in perspective on Dylan's Don't think twice it's alright , as if shot from a different angle,  you're the reason I been travelin' on/for I'm leaving here today.
Blue like Mars, this initially was and is (for now my favourite track) it sounds remarkably like it should live on L.C's debut solo album, but then evolves sonically into some amazing guitar work and sonic effects. Lyrically I will refer back to my early comments about a Sphinx like quality! I hold my hands up to not being able to penetrate these lyrics, the best I can offer here is an overriding sense of someone that has had their day, run their coarse, in a kind of sunset boulevard meets Wim Wenders films sort of a way ! oh where am I going with this.... what I do know is that I am listening to this album a lot and this track in particular is resonating with my current reading material Chuck Palahniuk's Invisible Monsters, there you go make sense of that! or stuck inside the future with those Martian blues again.
Musically, when Opposites Day began I moved from being reminded of the call and response guitars of the libertines to Elastica and then to Morrisey's the first of the gang to die, and that's before anyone started singing! Great song , very refreshing musically and nice pay off lines also ties in with earlier themes in the album. Also nod to Bowie's Candidate 'jump into the river holding hands'.
'I can't stay,
But I can't leave you like this'
Cole has said in the past that he was trying to become the Raymond Carver of song writing, I believe he reached that pinnacle on many of the tracks from Music in a foreign language, here though, on Silver Lake, we surely have a Bukowski piece set to music 'If we get lucky we'll go top shelf
We ain't drinking from no damned well" .
It's Late, loving this musically and the lyrics suggest that the 'Lateness'' alludes to the protagonists time of life, that this encounter is a last chance to prove himself and also give in to a weakness, temptation in 'lips as red as hellfire' 'I went looking for the devils daughter' , also some nice echoes of Perfect Blue-'I could be blue tonight'
Kids Today, Funny , pitched in the grumpy old men tones but really listing a string of repetitive generation gap clich├ęs and youth envy, I like the pay off line illustrating the fickle nature of father/son conversations perhaps? this works considering Will Coles presence on the record. 
The last lines of Diminished Ex appear to me to address not only the character in the song but also perhaps the press and media that Cole has had to endure and maybe even some of his fan base.
'So in light of these diminished expectations
I propose a temporary truce
If we are to negotiate these waters
Without further casualties'
But hey, that's just my reading of it.
Picking up from an earlier point regarding Cole moving forward to make the kind of albums he wants to make and not creating for the market, the best example of this I can think of in recent times is perhaps Nick Cave's foray into the realms of Grinderman. I enjoyed this mid life crisis, car crash, (dare I say it) Lost weekend beano, but more importantly the recent Bad Seeds offering Push the Sky Away brought with it a fresh new perspective and began a new chapter for a band that were in danger of becoming slightly formulaic. I am certainly not suggesting a rendering of No Pussy Blues but maybe , where we witnessed the brimming of the inner L.C back on Bad Vibes, we could knock the glass over and see what kind of  choice poison spills out.
Oh and yes, anyone shed any light on Three Volcanoes and a rose bush, soon to be nothing, soon enough, Seven of diamonds to the eight of spades. If not I am sure it will keep me busy until the next album.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Mr.Anderton will lead me to it.......perhaps

RE: LC's reference posts,
The only thing I can imagine LC was referring to here, given the context of this song and the social climate in the UK at that point, would be a certain Chief Constable James Anderton, who at the time had slammed AIDS suffers as "swirling about in a human cesspit of their own making" and adding to the mass paranoia surrounding the condition at this point in time. I understand that Polydor had some issues with the band's inclusion of this song on Mainstream because of its standpoint, but that LC had stuck to his guns and the LP was issued with it on, to be honest it would be very hard to imagine Mainstream without this closing track. Any how that's the best I can offer on this one.
As for Jules et Jim ! Don't know how I didn't ever make that connection, I studied the bloody thing in detail and wrote several essays on it during a film/media studies A level in the early 90's! the record sitting in my collection all the time. I could have kept that quiet obviously, but hey, it was more my style to get sand kicked in my eyes.
 Jules et Jim  directed by Francois Truffaut 1962 -see LC's speedboat "Jules said to Jim why don't we jump in, while the water's clean and we are still friends?"
And thanks to Nicky who commented " Rogers and Hammerstein's Carousel, the song "June is bustin' out all over" is the first line of Vin Ordinaire from The Negatives!  ..........
George Jones country singer
  LC sings on To the Church "can't you find me some George Jones on your radio?" . After failing to turn up to many concerts due to his various addictions and tempestuous relationships Jones earned himself the moniker 'No show Jones'. the church, indeed!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Just Like Tim Thumb's Blues

Thanks to Follower Tim Ellis who has filled in some missing suspects on the LC reference post:

"No longer angry,no longer young

No longer driven to distraction,
Not even by Scarlett Johansson"

LC Woman in a bar (Antidepressant)

Scarlett Johansson (1984-)

Actress, model and singer
Note worthy work:(obviously my opinion)

Ghost world
lost in translation
Vicki Christina Barcelona
match point

Bob Dylan sang on Just like Tom Thumb's Blues from Highway 61 revisited

"When you're down on Rue Morgue Avenue
They got some hungry women there
 And they really make a mess outa you."

LC sang on Tell your sister  from Don't get weird on me babe
"why don't you come down
soil your pretty feet on the dirty
ground of rue morgue avenue"

Rue Morgue is generally considered to first appear in Edgar Allan-Poe's work
The Murders in Rue Morgue and Poe appears elsewhere in Dylan's work as well as the beatles
I am the Walrus

And here are a couple that came to me after the post........

"Hey sean could you mosey on down to our gala ball
It reads mister maddonna kicks some beat poetry"
LC from Sean Penn Blues from Mainstream
LC had reportedly read an article where Penn had revisted one of his old Educational facilities
and had been heckled whilst reading his poetry.
Incendently LC visted one of his old schools recently during his UK tour
details of which can be found at this link: Back to school

Sean Penn (1960 -)
Actor, screenwriter, director, political/social activist, one time Mr. Madonna
Genius piece of work?  ....Arguably playing the Lawyer in Carlitto's Way

"My beautiful launderette is my beautiful escape" sings LC during the instrumental section of Mr.Malcontent from Mainstream
1980's british social drama directed by Stephen Frears and an early starring role for Daniel Day Lewis
Not sure what the relevance was in the context of the rest of this song..maybe someone can enlighten us.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

LC's Occupational health record

.Lloyd Cole joins the ranks of the 'Occupy this album' artists to support the growing occupy movement.
David Crosby, Graham Nash, Devo, Jackson Browne, Yo Le Tengo, The Guthrie Family and Micheal Moore have all signed up to the project supporting the protest against the financial world's irresponsible management of western economies. |The movement has seen protests grow in London, New York's occupy wall street and various other sites across the USA and Europe.
The album is expected to be released before Christmas and the proceeds will be split between supporting the Wall St. Movement (50%) and the new protests that are evolving across the States.
The movement started in New York when Canadian activist group Adbusters issued a campaign which began on September 17th in Zuccotti Park in the financial district of the city.
The "We are the 99%" campaign is in reference to U.S statistics illustrating the country's wealthiest 1% standing well above the rest of the population.
Greece and Spain's anti-austerity protests and the Occupy St.Pauls Movement add weight to this global backlash.
to lend support or find out more click here

Don't know how I missed this one

Not really sure how I managed to miss this one.

Heartbroken again, " Listening to Arthur Lee records"

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

"Now, the older I get the more I'm convinced that the idea of a great piece of art without humour is an oxymoron."

This quote from Lloyd came from a recent interview, all of which can be found at Lloyd, but got me to thinking about the various influences and references that appear in his work and how some of it has shaped my own reading preferences. This post delves into the  references that appear in Cole's work and presents key works by those who are name dropped, quoted and works that are referred to in their own right.  In no particular order.

Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986)
was part of the french philosophical existentialist movement and had a long relationship with its founder Jean Paul Satre during which they enjoyed an 'imaginery' married life. Her existential feminist treaty 'The second sex' helped pave the way for the feminist movement.
A provided reading material for Cole's protagonist in 'Rattlesnakes'

Marc Bolan (1947-1977)
Singer songwriter with john's children, tyrannosaurus rex and T-Rex
provided much inspiration for Cole who has covered Bolan's Slider and Children of the Revolution with great effect, he also provides the subject mater of '4MB' making Lloyd feel well.......groovy. and maybe a bit of a nod to Roxy Music's '4HB' from the same era.
Bolan died in a car accident aged just 30, but leaving behind a fairly large and unique body of work.

Greta Garbo actress from Sweden (1905-1990) popular in Hollywood's silent and classic period becoming a recluse in later life after appearing in 27 films. LC sings "At the age of ten she looked like Greta Garbo" on the opening track to his debut LP 'Perfect Skin'

                                                           The Citroen 2CV  "She drove her mother's car it was a Deux Cheavaux"     and one fantastic record.

Truman Capote our first star of "Four Flights up" author of Breakfast at Tiffany's and the 'new journalism' offering in Cold Blood. Capote shares the new journalism label with other authors Cole refers to such as Joan Didion and Norman Mailer below who have all been 'slotted' into the movement. Mailer was the author of 'The Naked and the dead' and 'The Deer Park' "Read Norman Mailer, or get a new tailor" was perhaps not the best rhyme ever but the song its lifted from remains one of Cole's classics. Find it "Are you ready to be Heartbroken?"
Grace Kelly"You can drive them back to town in a beat up Grace Kelly Car" from Cole's Four flights up pictured hear with Cary Grant in' to catch a theif', was a Hollywood actress and a favorite with Hitchcock until marrying the prince of Monaco and thereby forgoing her film career. She died in a car accident in the mountain roads of Monaco in 1982.

Joan Didion
Author ( born Sacramento 1934)
Whose novel 'play it as it lays' 1972 was the main inspiration
for Cole's 'Rattlesnakes'
The main character is forced to have an abortion after which she becomes traumatised and takes to driving around the freeways and west coasts dessert roads, looking for a way out of her problems, she gives herself up to various sexual encounters and experiences in order to break free of her stagnation. During the novel she periodically has dreams
of dead children and foetus body parts "Her never born child still haunts her as she speeds down the freeway" .
Rattlesnakes appear at various places within the novel, and appear to act as a motif for danger, or dangerous males.
The main character is also told to read a passage about rattlesnake bites from a red cross handbook.
Cole has cited this and the book of common prayer by Didion amongst his favorite novels. Didion was famous for her journalism as well as her novels and worked in the style of new journalism which looked to inject a personal narrative and response into pieces , the tone then lending itself more to fiction than factual reporting. Her use of sentence structure and minimal delivery was heavily influenced by Hemingway.

Eva Marie Saint in on the waterfront, what more can we say?
A film based on a series of articles about corruption and mob influence
over union workers in the new jersey docks in the late 40's early 50's.
Directed by Elia Kazan in 1954. Eva Marie Saint played opposite
Marlon Brando as the sister of a murdered dock worker.

Nick Drake's Five Leaves left
recorded in 1969 the first of three LP's before the singer/songwriters untimely death.
The LP features Richard Thompson on electric guitar and some fantastic string scoring by Robert Kirby. Cole refers to the album during 'What's wrong with this picture?' from Lloyd Cole and the negatives  "Smile, she said, and if you want
I'll look the other way
And you can go back to your Five Leaves Left
And you can call me when you get over yourself"
In his usual self effacing manner and humour probably picking the LP to represent somewhat earnest, studious types that like to linger in a melancholic haze. Not that anyone reading this would have ever been guilty of such behaviour. The album's title refers to a Rizla cigarette paper pack that would warn you when you were running out by having a dummy paper  or leaf declare "only five leaves left" I believe its ten now.

The inclusion of a 'SpectraVision Girl' would have changed the status of my page to something else entirely, but I am sure you can find one without too much trouble.
'Late night, Early town'
Music in a foreign language.

I am quite sure I have missed a fair few others, look forward to having them pointed out.

Monday, 21 November 2011

She takes me down to the basement 'Tapes'

Trawling the Internet for LC bootleg bits and pieces can sometimes turn up some gold!
In amongst the badly recorded, shaky hand cam nonsense there are some beautiful moments that have been captured. The first one in a small bar in Stockholm is enough to make any LC fanatic a little green eyed! The second is from April this year in Bologna. Two fantastic performances. If any one has any to add to the list, let me know, I am considering a 'Meet me down in the basement bootleg top ten'.
both of these tracks are from Rattlesnakes.

Rattlesnakes deluxe edition available from this link.