Lloyd Cole and the Commotions were a bunch of eccentric art school oddballs who specialised in writing oddball love songs. Cole had the tendancy to wield his cultural influences in the most unusual ways possibly – devising lyrics which would at an instant sweep from mentioning Simone DeBeauvoir to Eve Marie-Saint (and back again).
The Commotions started off life in Glasgow as a soul band. As they gathered purpose and direction the group’s sound expanded outwards to incorporate funk, blues and rock. The band consisted of Lloyd Cole on vocals and guitar, Neil Clark on guitar, Stephen Irvine on drums, Lawrence Donegan on bass and Blair Cowan on keyboards.
All in all the group released three albums in the mid 80’s, the sublime ‘Rattlesnakes’ in 1984, the slightly less sublime ‘Easy Pieces’ in 1985 and the (at times) downright ropey ‘Mainstream’ in 1987. Lloyd left the band in 1987 and has since persued a moderately successful solo career which peaked in the early 90’s.
After a successful mini-tour of the UK and Ireland in 2004, the Commotions decided to create a new record which is still currently in production and should be ready for release by 2006. A full UK tour is scheduled for Fall 2005.
What are they most famous for?
Undoubtedly the Commotions are still held in high regards for the Rattlesnakes album and the subsequent singles released off it. ‘Perfect Skin’ still gets a fair amount of mainstream airplay for a song that is over 20 years old.
Lloyd’s solo effort ‘She’s a Girl and I’m A Man’ off the album ‘Don’t Get Weird On Me Babe’ proved to be a college radio classic in the US. It is probably Lloyd’s best recognised piece of work in Europe and in the States.
Why aren’t they famous?
The quality of the band’s later material could never quite live up to the work produced in the ‘Rattlesnakes’ era. This lack of consistency meant that a serious assault on the mainstream was just too much to ask of the band. Besides Cole’s lyrics were hardly typical where they?
Where to start
Rattlesnakes has got to be the first port of call for Lloyd cole and the commotions – its pure genius. It would be easier to list the tracks off the LP that I would not recommend than vice-versa. My particular favourites are “Perfect Skin”, “Rattlesnakes”, “Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken” and “Patience”. The recent reissue of the album boasts a bonus CD which contains live tracks and out-takes from the Rattlesnakes recording sessions. Some of these songs (‘You’ll never be no good’ I’m looking at you!) are even better than some of the tracks that made it onto the album.
In comparison to Rattlesnakes “Easy Pieces” (the band’s 2nd LP) is somewhat weaker than its predecessor but still has it’s moments. ‘Brand New Friend’ and ‘Lost Weekend’ are as catchy as anything as Lloyd Cole and the Commotions has ever written.