Lloyd Cole / Lloyd Cole and the Commotions

Collected Recordings

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Since his career began in the mid-'80s, Lloyd Cole has been working steadily to carve out a career as one of the most consistent and satisfying singer/songwriters of his era, with the occasional side trip into electronic music for extra flavoring. Despite all the good work he's done, many if not most of his fans hold a special place in their hearts for his early records with the Commotions. From 1983 to 1987, and over the course of a handful of singles and three albums, they crafted some legendary and long-lasting sophisticated guitar pop that stands shoulder to shoulder with the best of the era. Released in 1984, Rattlesnakes, especially, is one of the rare occasions when songwriting, performance, and production all come together to create a perfect moment in time. With this exhaustive box set, fans of Cole and this era of pop will be able to hear everything the Commotions laid down to tape in crisply remastered and lovingly curated fashion. Each album gets its own disc, with Rattlesnakes still the clear favorite, though both 1985's Easy Pieces and 1987's Mainstream certainly have their charms. "Jennifer She Said" from the latter record is one of Cole's career highlights for sure. Along with the studio albums, a disc of B-sides shows that Cole's castoffs were just as good as the songs that made the cut. "You Will Never Be No Good" would have been a fine addition to Rattlesnakes, for example, and taken together the songs provide a nice alternate history of the Commotions. Giving fans who already thought they had everything another reason to buy the set, a full disc of demos and unreleased songs is included, too. It's certainly not as polished as the group's finished products and it's fascinating to get a glimpse behind the scenes as the band got the songs together. The slightly scruffy take on their signature song "Perfect Skin" and an early version of "Are You Ready to be Heartbroken?" are practically worth the cost of the collection by themselves. In addition, there are six previously unheard songs that never made it past the demo stage, like "Poons" and the very Echo & the Bunnymen-sounding "Eat My Words," and their inclusion makes the collection even more interesting. The disc of videos and TV appearances is nice, but inessential. What's most important is that all the Commotions' music is gathered together in one place, showcasing Cole's already brilliant songwriting talents, the band's sympathetic accompaniment, and some of the most accomplished and emotionally satisfying music of the '80s.

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 03:04
2 02:42
3 02:53
5 02:52
6 04:16
7 03:12
8 05:07
9 03:54
10 02:44
11 02:20
12 02:35
15 04:01
16 03:55
17 03:48
18 06:26

Track Listing - Disc 5

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 04:13
2 02:10
3 03:39
4 04:02
5 04:37
6 03:21
7 03:41
8 04:10
9 04:20
10 05:10
11 03:16
12 05:14
13 03:22
14 04:53
15 03:22
16 04:19
17 03:22
18 05:23
blue highlight denotes track pick