Lloyd Cole on new Commotions box


In the next seven days Lloyd Cole and the Commotions’ new six-disc box set – Collected Recordings 1983-1989 – will be released. The set collects the three studio albums (Rattlesnakes, Easy Pieces and Mainstream) and provides two bonus audio discs of B-sides and unreleased demos and outtakes. A DVD with TV appearances and videos completes the box set.

SDE caught up with Lloyd Cole last week to discuss the new set. He was actually feeling under the weather, so our chat became an email Q&A which you can read below:

SuperDeluxeEdition:  How did this box set come about?

Lloyd Cole: Universal proposed it.

SDE: Do you enjoy ‘looking back’ and putting archival sets together? You’ve created some good ones.

LC: I’m not against it, but I wouldn’t want to be devoting the majority of my time to it as it has felt the last year or so, every year. Also I was lucky to be in a pretty great band so looking back isn’t painful. I do like having my albums in print, and if a box is what it takes, then I’m ok with that.

SDE: Do you learn anything from the process?

LC: Sure, but it’s too late to benefit from the insight.

SDE: Have you always been aware of all the demos and unreleased songs that fill out disc five of the box, or did some of that material come as a surprise?

LC: There were one or two I’d forgotten – Eat My Words, the Patience demo, and I hadn’t forgotten Poons but I’d given up trying to find a copy…



SDE: Do you agree with the generally accepted view the Rattlesnakes is your best album?

LC: Ours, certainly. Mine, I don’t know. It is certainly flawless for what it is and I’m not sure I’ve made a flawless record

SDE: What are the factors that contributed to it being better than the two that followed?

LC: Luck. The songs. The unified shared vision.

SDE: Was this the happiest period, looking back?

LC: 1984 for sure. All year was wonderful.

SDE: Did you start working on Easy Pieces with Paul Hardiman?

LC: Well, we recorded 4 songs, as you know. But we didn’t embark on an album. That session was badly planned. I think we just thought – we’ll just carry on as before… but it was different and a big studio with a well known (London Calling) engineer, instead of just us and Paul in the garden… Brand New Friend and Perfect Blue were in the wrong key for my singing voice … none of us spotted this…

SDE: Were you happy with the initial work, or were the record label justified in having concerns?

 LC: We were happy with it and they were justified.

SDE:  How was the working relationship with Langer / Winstanley?

LC: Frenetic, mostly fun. Upbeat. We just got on with it. We trusted them.

SDE:  At the end of the process did the label feel vindicated in changing producers because you’d had three top 40 hits?

LC: I’m sure they did. The production isn’t the only weak element of the album. The poor songs are just poor.

SDE: Was the commercial success of Easy Pieces as satisfying as the critical success of Rattlesnakes?

LC: I retain my position that easy pieces initial success was entirely down to Rattlesnakes. Any album after Rattlesnakes would have sold well.

SDE: Can you describe the beginnings to Mainstream?

LC: Not really. We didn’t have a plan for the album so we just tried this producer and that. We weren’t on great form working with Chris Thomas in Paris, and neither was he… we tried Stewart [Copeland]- my idea – that didn’t work. I don’t know how we ended up with Ian [Stanley], I’m guessing Chris Hughes must have suggested him. Chris stopped by often to check on the sessions.

SDE: Ian Stanley produced the album in the end. Was it really that painful, the process of working with him? If so, why?

LC: It wasn’t painful for me. Ian was mostly good with me, but the rest of the band found it very difficult. Ian was very detail oriented, and taking three days to get one guitar track, or drum track done really wore us out…

SDE: Looking back on the three records how easy is it to identify cause and effect that contributed to perceived dissatisfaction? e.g. Production, song-writing, band friction, label pressure….

LC: Relatively. The biggest error was aiming for a Xmas 1985 release for Easy Pieces. With a little more time and thought that album could have been much better and then we might have learnt how to make records when we didn’t have 10 perfect songs and the ideal recording environment. And a holiday would have helped.

SDE: What exactly stopped the band staying together for a fourth album? Were you frustrated with working within a democracy?

LC: A little. But I would have stayed if we’d had a great idea for album 4, but we didn’t. We didn’t have a great idea for albums two or three… in the end we made good records because the band was so strong, and only one great one – when we had a unified vision for the album…

SDE: Are there any of the demos that you really wished had made it on to an album?

LC: Not any of the final albums but I think it’s clear we could have made a very different third album which might have followed the lead of tracks like Nevers End and Poons.



SDE: Everybody’s Complaining sounds like a classic. How did that not end up on the album?

LC: The album moved away from that type of song.

SDE: Tell us about Old Wants Never Gets – that’s quite a fast-paced track.

LC: Not sure what to say. I think it’s me with Blair backing me up trying hard to sound like prince.

SDE: Why did the Rattlesnakes outtake Beautiful City not earn a place here?

LC: Because it’s on the 2004 Rattlesnakes 2 CD set. That isn’t deleted and I’m working towards remastering it, to bring it in line with this set.

SDE: You have avoided most of the 12-inch versions and radio edits – the staple of many expanded deluxe reissues – why?

LC: Because they were atrocious. The one included is the only decent one.

SDE: Will we see any of this material issued on vinyl?

LC: Not by Universal. Maybe a 3rd party. Any suggestions would be welcomed.

SDE: Finally, do you still enjoy buying physical music such as vinyl, box sets etc.?

LC: Absolutely. Files are fine work-in-progress or the odd individual track I might like a little. I buy everything else on cd or vinyl.

Lloyd Cole was ‘talking’ to Paul Sinclair for SDE. The Collected Recordings 1983-1989 box will be released on 29 June 2015.

Lloyd Cole and the Commotions / Collected Recordings 1983-1989

Disc one – Rattlesnakes

  • 1 Perfect Skin
  • 2 Speedboat
  • 3 Rattlesnakes
  • 4 Down on Mission Street
  • 5 Forest Fire
  • 6 Charlotte Street
  • 7 2cv
  • 8 Four Flights Up
  • 9 Patience
  • 10 Are You Ready to be Heartbroken?

Disc two – Easy Pieces

  • 1 Rich
  • 2 Why I Love Country Music
  • 3 Pretty Gone
  • 4 Grace
  • 5 Cut Me Down
  • 6 Brand New Friend
  • 7 Lost Weekend
  • 8 James
  • 9 Minor Character
  • 10 Perfect Blue

Disc three – Mainstream

  • 1 My Bag
  • 2 From the Hip
  • 3 29
  • 4 Mainstream
  • 5 Jennifer she said
  • 6 Mr. Malcontent
  • 7 Sean Penn Blues
  • 8 Big Snake
  • 9 Hey Rusty
  • 10 These Days

Disc four – B-Sides, Remixes & Outtakes

  • 1. The Sea and The Sand (B-side to Perfect Skin)
  • 2. You Will Never Be No Good (B-side to Perfect Skin)
  • 3. Andy’s Babies  (B-side to Forest Fire)
  • 4. Glory (B-side to Forest Fire)
  • 5. Sweetness (B-side to Rattlesnakes)
  • 6. Perfect Blue (Hardiman mix) B-side to Jennifer She Said
  • 7. Jesus Said (B-side to My Bag)
  • 8. Brand New Friend (1985 Wessex Studio recording. Previously unreleased ***
  • 9. From Grace (Unfinished 1985 Wessex Studio recording. Previously unreleased ***)
  • 10. Her Last Fling ( B-side to Brand New Friend)
  • 11. Big World (B-side to Lost Weekend)
  • 12. Nevers End (B-side to Lost Weekend)
  • 13. Mystery Train  (Recorded live at The World, New York, 1986) B-side to Jennifer She Said
  • 14. I Don’t Believe You  (Recorded live at The World, New York, 1986) B-side to Jennifer She Said
  • 15. Love Your Wife (B-side to From The Hip)
  • 16. Lonely Mile (B-side to From The Hip)
  • 17. Please (B-side to From The Hip)
  • 18. My Bag (Dancing Mix) 12” single

Disc five – Demo Recordings & Rarities (ALL UNRELEASED except Trk 2 & 6)

  • 1. Down At The Mission [Unreleased single A-side]
  • 2. Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken? [Unreleased single B-side (appeared previously on Rattlesnakes Deluxe Edition 2004)]
  • 3. Patience [Demo recording]
  • 4. Eat My Words [Demo recording (Never before heard)]
  • 5. Forest Fire [Demo recording]
  • 6. Perfect Skin [Demo recording (appeared previously on Rattlesnakes Deluxe Edition 2004)]
  • 7. Poons [Demo recording (Never before heard)]
  • 8. Old Hats [Demo recording]
  • 9. You Win [Demo recording (Never before heard)]
  • 10. Old Wants Never Gets [Demo recording (Never before heard)]
  • 11. Another Dry Day [Demo recording. (Never before heard)]
  • 12. 29  [Demo recording]
  • 13. Jennifer She Said [Demo recording]
  • 14. Hey Rusty [Demo recording]
  • 15. Everyone’s Complaining [Unreleased recording. Studio Grande Armée (Paris). Produced by Chris Thomas]
  • 16. Mr Malcontent [Unreleased recording. Studio Grande Armée (Paris). Produced by Chris Thomas]
  • 17. Jennifer She Said (Polished Rough Mix) [Unreleased recording. Sarm Studios (London). Produced by Stewart Copeland and Julian Mendelsohn]
  • 18. Hey Rusty [Unreleased recording. Sarm Studios (London). Produced by Stewart Copeland and Julian Mendelsohn]

DVD – Promotional videos & television performances

Promotional videos

  • 1 Perfect Skin
  • 2 Forest Fire
  • 3 Rattlesnakes
  • 4 Brand New Friend
  • 5 Lost Weekend
  • 6 Cut Me Down
  • 7 My Bag
  • 8 Jennifer She Said
  • 9 From The Hip
  • 10 Mainstream

Television performances

  • 11 Perfect Skin (Top of the Pops, June 1984)
  • 12 Rattlesnakes (The Old Grey Whistle Test, November 1984)
  • 13 Speedboat (The Old Grey Whistle Test, November 1984)
  • 14 Brand New Friend (Wogan, September 1985)
  • 15 Brand New Friend (Top of the Pops, September 1985)
  • 16 Lost Weekend (Top of the Pops, November 1985)
  • 17 Mister Malcontent (Recorded live in concert at Ibrox Park, Glasgow, June 1986)
  • 18 My Bag (Wogan, September 1987)

lloyd cole collected recordings

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