Lloyd Cole and The Commotions – Vinyl Reissues – Proper Music – UMC
Rattlesnakes – Mainstream – Easy Pieces
The latest vinyl reissues of the Lloyd Cole and The Commotions studio albums see things done properly; 2016’s ‘expanded’ reissue of Rattlesnakes was dismissed by the band, with Lloyd Cole revealing on his website that they had no prior knowledge of the release, which overloaded a single vinyl disc with the original LP plus four b-sides. This time around, the band’s 1984 debut, together with 1985’s Easy Pieces and 1987’s Mainstream, faithfully replicate their original Polydor releases, complete with printed inner sleeves, and are pressed on high-quality 180g vinyl.
Rattlesnakes stands as a timeless album that showcases an infectious blend of guitar-driven pop, blues and folk rock served on a bed of lush string arrangements. As the frontman, Cole wrote the bulk of the record, with his poetic lyrics taking centre stage. Inspired by Bob Dylan and the literary works of his English and philosophy studies, Cole weaved cultural allusions with the tales of characters who found themselves in a variety of situations as a result of love – some funny, others tragic. There’s not a bad song on it. The pick of the bunch, Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken?, represents everything brilliant about the album: profound words, infectious melodies, and a beautiful arrangement, all captured in the space of a three-minute, radio-friendly pop song.
Easy Pieces saw the band develop a more polished sound where synthesisers overshadowed guitars. While it failed to hit the heights of its predecessor, it remains a solid and highly enjoyable listen from start to finish. The likes of Cut Me Down and Brand New Friend lay down soulful grooves that are as insatiable as anything found on Rattlesnakes, and Cole’s lyrics continue to paint a kaleidoscope of intriguing narratives that ignite the imagination.
On Mainstream, the group backtracked on polished pop, with Cole’s songwriting taking an introspective turn; it’s a mellower sound that Cole would go on to further explore in his solo career. The anthemic ‘Jennifer She Said’, which momentarily sees the album exhibit a production more reminiscent of earlier records, is one of the group’s finest songs and strongest earworms. Stewart Copeland produced the album highlight ‘Hey Rusty’, which conjures a sonic fusion of Bruce Springsteen and U2.
Fans of Lloyd Cole and The Commotions can rest assured that these new vinyl reissues deliver on quality, both in terms of the pressing and the packaging.
Dan Aston | Now Spinning Magazine