Monday, 17 October 2011

Skeletons: Early Songs: Early 90s Demos: 'Tap Room Tales'

One of my favourite albums at the time of recording 'Tap Room Tales' in the early 90s (sorry that I can't be more specific, that decade remains a blur) was 'Rattlesnakes' by Lloyd Cole. I love the guitar solo at the end of the magnificent 'Forest Fire' and tried to emulate it here; failing pretty miserably as you can hear. I guess that you could call the song a pean to the muse; a nod to my then fledging musical career that brought me to London, all the way from... Skipton. In the song we replaced the (not very rock and roll) Skipton; Gateway to the Dales, with the city of Manchester, partly to affiliate ourselves with The Smiths or any number of shoe gazing bands from that fair city that were hogging the musical headlines at the time, but mainly because I needed that extra syllable.
My main memory of the song's recording (at Steve Davis's Brixton Studio) was my vocal, done whilst demolishing the prop of a bottle of Jack Daniels with Steve. We were going for a relaxed Tom Waits and ended up with a pissed poor Pogues/Shane MacGowen drawl; so much for 'the method'...
After finishing the vocal that you hear here, I stumbled back down Acre Lane towards the tube and thought I'd celebrate with a Chinese. Sitting on the last tube home, I used my guitar case as a picnic table and tucked into my sweet and sour chicken/prawn fried rice combo. As we went through the first tunnel nausea struck; I would surely puke. Being a good citizen and not wanting to soil the carriage I did what any like minded Londoner (who'd just imbibed a pint of bourbon) would do: I dutifully took my guitar out of its case and used the case (beautiful red velvet lining) as my... receptacle. That guitar was never the same again. It currently rests under the stairs in Corsica, a silent reminder of my rock and roll years; it still gently hums in a soiled velvet embrace; lending a unique resonance to the term 'feedback'...


  1. What do you mean "funny"?
    You mean the way I talk?
    Funny how?
    What's funny about it?
    You're a big girl, you know what you said.
    I make you laugh, I'm here to amuse you?
    You mean I amuuuse you?
    I'm funny how?
    Like a clown?
    What's so funny about me?
    Tell me, tell me, tell me what's so funny about meee...

  2. I too loved "rattlesnakes", although having a swingometer of a solo career, Lloyd never again captured the glory of that first album. Seems it happens to many artists, 10 years of artistry goes into the first album, 2 months the second!!

  3. Agree, he was a little too prolific; like Ryan Adams, he quality control wasn't always there. He seemed to become more about 'attitude' than songs, although I do love the lush orchestrations of 'Don't Get Weird on Me Baby' ("Margo's Waltz') and the pop sensibilities of 'Lloyd Cole' ("Blue Skies").

  4. Argh, I have to chime in here guys... Bad-mouthing Lloyd! I beg to differ! In my (our) opinion, LC's solo stuff has been mostly superb! "Love Story" is especially fine... "Like Lovers Do" and "Unhappy Song" pop gems. "Don't Get Weird" is a wonderful album. I grant you he is consistently miserable, but often with tongue firmly in cheek. The later lo-fi stuff is quite charming. "NYC Sunshine" is actually sweet and beautiful!
    Well aware that it's a "subjective taste" thing, but just had to step in to defend poor old Lloyd!

    Tim, Myrna & Eric (from Toronto)

  5. I'm a big fan Tim.
    Lloyd and Grant McLennon of the GoBetweens sit on the same pedestal for me... I went back to his albums after the recent chat... His songs are the proverbial woods and trees; from a distance it's hard to distinguish them; up close they're all pretty much perfect.
    Of his recent stuff I liked 'Etc' and 'Music in a Foreign Language' although 'recent' seems to mean within the last 10 years.
    He also recorded a gem as 'The Negatives' ('Impossible Girl').