16th December 1984
Edinburgh Caley Palais
By the mid-1980s I had evolved from an unreconstructed Progger to a chap with rather more contemporary tastes in music: the UK Indie Scene primarily. Through a network of half-a-dozen or so friends and colleagues who shared my interests, I felt we pretty much had the UK Music scene sewn up, with few bands of any worth slipping beneath our collective radar. One such who did though were Lloyd Cole & The Commotions who, seemingly without any warning signs emerged fully formed Athena-like from the forehead of the Glasgow jangly guitar movement.
Their debut single Perfect Skin was a hit in June 1984, followed swiftly by the equally impressive Forest Fire. The concurrent album Rattlesnakes really was something special, with barely a note nor word wasted over the two sides of vinyl. Musically it had one foot in the aforementioned Glasgow Postcard school (the track Patience could easily have been lifted from Orange Juice’s Rip It Up), but owed much to the guitar sound on the Velvet’s third album although, if one looked hard enough, there were elements of both C&W and soul music to be found in the mix.
Lyrically, there can have been few more “bookish” albums released in the 1980s, with vocalist Lloyd Cole happy to shamelessly plunder much of the curriculum from his English and Philosophy courses at Glasgow Uni. Norman Mailer, Joan Didion, Francois Truffaut, Truman Capote and Simone de Bouvoir were all referenced, either directly or obliquely. There were accusations of pretension laid at Mr Cole’s door back in the day, but I could forgive anyone anything who could come up with a line like:
“Must you tell me all your secrets, when it’s hard enough to love you knowing nothing”.
The band’s Edinburgh gig in December 1984 forded me a rare opportunity to visit to the Caley Palais, a place I had always felt was a sorely underused Edinburgh venue. I did have a rather soft spot the place, I have to say, as it was here I took Wife-to-Be on our First Date – not to see a concert, but rather hypnotist Robert Halpern.
I have to say I have never laughed so long and so hard at anything as I did during that particular evening back in April 1979, as for the first time in my life I understood what the term side-splitting meant. Although looking back, I do wonder what sort of a person takes a girl to see a hypnotist on a first date. That is perhaps a rather murky psychological puddle I think I would rather not go paddling in.
No laughing at Lloyd and the boys of course, although if truth be told very little of the actual gig can I recall. Certainly I have no recollection of who the support band was. I have vague memories of seeing the rather eccentric Swansway supporting somebody around this period, but doubt if it was LCatC.
I am guessing we would have heard all of the Rattlesnakes album, plus perhaps songs such as Beautiful City, Glory (a Tom Verlaine cover), Her Last Fling and perhaps the small but perfectly formed Sweetness, but all is gone, it saddens me to say. Andy’s Babies (a sly dig at Mr Warhol and his associated hangers-on) is pretty much the only one I can distinctly remember. Which is all a bit odd given how I lived night and day with the utterly unique Rattlesnakes album for the better part of 1984.