Cocteau Twins BBC album

Written by Andrew Norman on Sat, 18 Sep 1999 22:01:04 +0100.

Full details:

1. Wax and Wane, Garlands, Alas Dies Laughing, Feathers-Oar-Blades
2. Hearsay Please, Dear Heart, Blind Dumb Deaf, Hazel

July 82 and January 83, both sessions for John Peel. The second one has Gordon Sharp on backing vocals and is on the UK "Garlands" CD, of course. Basically similar to the album/single versions, with the obvious exception of GS and the fact that the first two songs from the second session don't appear anywhere else. Robin, Liz and Will.

3. The Tinderbox (of a Heart), Strange Fruit, Hitherto, From the
4. Sugar Hiccup, In Our Angelhood, My Hue and Cry, Musette and Drums

October 83, for John Peel and David "Kid" Jensen respectively, just Robin and Liz. Again, rather similar to the album/single versions, "Strange Fruit" (a rather effective, dark and gloomy version of the Billie Holliday song) and "My Hue and Cry" (a so-so instrumental) are unique to these sessions. Songs tend to end abruptly rather than fading out. David Jensen was a slick DJ with a transatlantic (Canadian) accent and was doing the "Peel Lite" slot just before Peel - he'd play a bit of the more acceptable end of Peel's sort of music (the Smiths, the Cocteaus, but not the Fall or Bogshed) and the "alternative" end of the current charts.

5. Hitherto, From the Flagstones, Musette and Drums

CD 2 starts with three tracks from December 83, recorded on the show "Saturday Live" (not "Saturday Night Live" as the album insists). This was an art/music magazine presented by Richard Skinner (who had previously done Jensen's job with rather more credibility) and Andy Batten-Foster (posh BBC Bristol presenter) with assistance from Peel's legendary eccentric producer John Walters (who produced session 3 on CD1) and Andy Kershaw. Guests would play live in the studio at broadcast time, so these three songs have none of the multi- tracked vocals and slightly more polished production of the earlier sessions. This was probably broadcast in between an interview with Genesis P Orridge about William S Burroughs and Walters rabbiting on about how he first met Yoko Ono, or something similar.

6. Pepper-Tree, Beatrix, Ivo, Otterley

Peel again, September 84. "Pepper-Tree" is a more hard-edged rendition than the B-side (which was the first really "etherial" Cocteaus song to my mind). The other three sound like demos, and "Otterley" doesn't have vocals. Ken Garner's "In Session Tonight" lists "Beatrix" as "Whisht", and "Ivo" as "Peep-bo".

7. Serpentskirt, Golden-Vein, Half-Gifts, Seekers Who Are Lovers
8. Calfskin Smack, Fifty-Fifty Clown, Violaine

Twelve years later, sessions from March and April 96 for Mark Radcliffe (doing the Skinner/Jensen role) and Robert Elms (on BBC local radio for London, GLR). Good renditions of the various songs, "Violaine" isn't exactly My Bloody Valentine but it's got some really fine swirling guitar sounds. None of the versions are radical reworkings but they are all subtly different - "Seekers" has some almost Bjork-like squawking at one point.

Overall I think it's a "fans only" album - there's a huge gap in the middle of it between "Treasure" and the last album, so it's not much good as an introduction or an overview of their career, and there's nothing hugely different (apart from the few unique tracks).

Andrew Norman, Leicester, England

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