Lloyd Cole - Rattlesnakes
Of the three, Rattlesnakes was the one which appealed to me way beyond that one song as an introduction. It contains a near sublime collection of beautifully crafted songs, beautifully put together and beautifully played. I know this is not everyone's cup of tea, but it grows and grows on you the more you listen to it once you get over the negative associations which Cole and his band seem to collect. And "Perfect Skin" is just as amazing to hear it now as when it first came out on demo the year before.
In fact, there is not a single duff track on the album. I'll never understand why Cole split the band up. Nor will I ever understand why so many people write off the entire Commotions' canon of work on the strength of a stupid and inappropriate "college rock" label. This band had to contend throughout their career with an association with students which was unfair and unjustified. This is pure and simple some of the finest jangle pop you will ever get to hear in your life.
There is not a bad track on this album. Each one is a little story of its own, a gem which encapsulates a moment or an event and holds you through from beginning to end as the story is unfolded before you. Lloyd Cole's world is based on a series of characters, and in each song he tells you something about them. These characters may be mundane but in each one there is something out of the ordinary, something special which is the reason why he wants to invite you into their worlds. There is Louise, the student who lives in the basement flat in "Perfect Skin" whose epidermis clearly makes your whole world turn upside down (I know how true that can be - I once encountered someone whose skin was that good!). Jodie, the little girl lost drives through America in "Rattlesnakes" reading Simone de Beauvoir and reminding you of Eva Marie-Sainte. Then there is girl who can only be happy when her partner is in distress - "Patience".
I have no doubt, in retrospect, that this was one of the finest releases of the 1980's outside the post punk genre. Though musically different from the post punks, Lloyd Cole and the Commotions have one thing in common with that genre - the sheer travesty that they were overlooked in their time. Their record company kept pushing them towards America and in later albums tailored their songs to be what they felt was more suitable to an American market. Great songwriting transcends geographical and cultural boundaries and it is an insult to any American musical lover to be told he or she does not know how to appreciate something for what it is, so it has been adapted to suit.
In any event, this was the first of three great albums from Lloyd Cole and the Commotions. Rattlesnakes sets the tone and provides a great showcase for Cole's song writing talent. Start your journey with the band here. It is a journey which I hope you enjoy as much as I did.
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on 2011-03-03 CharlesMartel Said:
One of those albums which, for me, defined the eighties.