Lloyd Cole

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Lloyd Cole
Lloyd Cole portrait by Mark Dellas.jpg
Publicity portrait of Cole, c. 1995
Background information
Born (1961-01-31) 31 January 1961 (age 61)
Buxton, Derbyshire, England
GenresRock, pop, indie pop
Instrument(s)Vocals, guitar, harmonica, synthesizers, piano, bass, banjo
Years active1984–present

Lloyd Cole (born 31 January 1961) is an English singer and songwriter. He was lead singer of Lloyd Cole and the Commotions from 1984 to 1989 and subsequently worked solo.[1]

Early life[edit]

Cole was born in Buxton, Derbyshire, England.[2] He grew up in nearby Chapel-en-le-Frith and went to New Mills Grammar School[3] and later attended Runshaw College in Leyland. He studied a year of law at University College London but switched to the University of Glasgow, where he studied philosophy and English, and also met the future members of The Commotions.[4]


1984–1989: Lloyd Cole and the Commotions[edit]

The Commotions' 1984 debut, Rattlesnakes, contained literary and pop culture references to such figures as Arthur Lee, Norman Mailer, Grace Kelly, Eva Marie Saint, Simone de Beauvoir, Truman Capote and Joan Didion.[5] The group produced two more albums, Easy Pieces and Mainstream, before disbanding in 1989.[1]

Songs by the band include "Perfect Skin", "Rattlesnakes", "Forest Fire", "Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken?", "Lost Weekend" and "Jennifer She Said". Cole subsequently relocated to New York City and recorded with various artists, including Fred Maher, Robert Quine and Matthew Sweet.[6]

1990–1992: Lloyd Cole and Don't Get Weird on Me Babe[edit]

This solo setting produced two albums, Lloyd Cole in 1990 – preceded by the single 'No Blue Skies' – and Don't Get Weird on Me Babe in 1991.[1] The latter was recorded in two parts: one side continued the New York rock of his first solo album, while the other side featured a session orchestra, much in the style of Burt Bacharach or Scott Walker. While he remained with Polydor as his record label, the US distribution contract with Capitol Records ended. (US rights were picked up by Rykodisc.) 'She's A Girl And I'm A Man' was released as a single.

"Downtown" (from Lloyd Cole, 1990) was featured in the movie Bad Influence (1990)[citation needed] – starring Rob Lowe and James Spader – while "Pay For It" (from Don't Get Weird On Me Babe, 1991) was on the soundtrack of When The Party's Over, starring Sandra Bullock.[citation needed]

1993–1999: Bad Vibes, Love Story and The Collection[edit]

Cole recorded Bad Vibes in 1993,[1] a collaboration with producer/remixer Adam Peters, using a harder sound. 'So You'd Like to Save the World' and 'Morning Is Broken' were released as singles.

Love Story (1995) was recorded with the help of Stephen Street (who has worked with Blur and The Smiths) and former Commotion Neil Clark. It produced a minor hit with the song "Like Lovers Do", affording Cole a mid-1990s appearance on Top of the Pops. However, following Universal Music's takeover of PolyGram, his contract was terminated, despite at least two full-length recordings being locked in its vaults (later released in 2002 by One Little Indian).[citation needed] Love Story was a Top 30 hit in the UK.[citation needed]

In 1998 Cole's song "Margo's Waltz" (from 1991's Don't Get Weird On Me Babe album) was featured in the film There's Something About Mary.[citation needed]

In the same year The Collection was released, featuring 8 songs with The Commotions and 12 solo singles. The album climbed to #24 on the UK album charts.[citation needed]

2000–2009: The Negatives, Music in a Foreign Language and Antidepressant[edit]

In 1997 and 1998 Cole played with some New York musicians under the name The Negatives.[7] The group consisted of Jill Sobule, Dave Derby of the Dambuilders, Mike Kotch and Rafa Maciejak, who recorded an eponymous CD, released mainly in Western Europe and North America. Songs from the album like 'Past Imperfect', 'Vin Ordinaire' and 'No More Love Songs' returned to Lloyd's live sets regularly throughout his career.

He has since released solo albums on smaller independent labels. Sanctuary Records released Music in a Foreign Language (2003) in the UK. Recorded largely by Cole himself (including tracks recorded directly onto a Mac), the songs had a stark, folk-inspired singer-songwriter style.[citation needed] The album was released in the U.S. by the One Little Indian label, which also collected a number of outtakes (recorded from 1996 to 2000) on 2002's Etc. and released an instrumental ambient electronica album, Plastic Wood, the same year. Lloyd has mentioned Music in a Foreign Language as his favourite album. It featured new versions of Nick Cave's 'People Ain't No Good' and his own 'No More Love Songs'. Both the title track and 'Late Night, Early Town' became staples in his live sets.[citation needed]

In 2004, to mark the 20th anniversary of the release of Rattlesnakes, Lloyd Cole and the Commotions reformed to perform a one-off tour of the UK and Ireland.[citation needed] The reformation was never intended to be permanent,[citation needed] and Cole released another solo album in 2006, Antidepressant, using his usual home recording outfit by playing all the instruments himself with friends like Sobule, Derby and the guitar work of former Commotion Neil Clark on some tracks.[8] The album included 'Woman in a Bar' and 'The Young Idealists' a.o. Lloyd has mentioned 'Rolodex Incident' as a personal favourite.[citation needed]

2010–present: Broken Record, Standards and Guesswork[edit]

Broken Record, released in September 2010 preceded by the single "Writer's Retreat", marked a departure from his solo recordings, as it was performed by a band of longstanding friends and working partners, including Fred Maher, Joan Wasser, Rainy Orteca, Dave Derby and Blair Cowan – as well as two musicians, Matt Cullen (guitar; banjo) and Mark Schwaber (guitar; mandolin), with whom Cole tours, billed as 'Lloyd Cole Small Ensemble'.[citation needed] The recording of the album was entirely financed by advance purchases by his fans and contributions from Tapete Records[citation needed], which later distributed the album and also oversaw and negotiated the rights to release a boxed set with his complete collection of b-sides, alternative takes and previously unreleased material, under the title Cleaning Out the Ashtrays.[citation needed]

A further album co-funded by fans, Standards, was released in June 2013, and includes contributions from Fred Maher and Matthew Sweet,[9] Blair Cowan (The Commotions) and Joan Wasser (a.k.a. Joan As Police Woman). It was preceded by the single and video 'Period Piece'. Other notable songs on the album were Lloyd's re-make of John Hartford's 'California Earthquake', 'Women's Studies' and favourite 'Myrtle And Rose'. For the first time since 1999's 'The Collection', Lloyd Cole entered the UK album chart with the album.[citation needed]

In February 2013 a new album of electronic music by Cole and Hans-Joachim Roedelius was released, called Selective Studies Vol. 1.[10]

In 2016 Cole went on tour with The Leopards to celebrate the release of the Lloyd Cole and the Commotions Collected Recordings 1983–1988 box set.[citation needed] Live album Lloyd Cole and the Leopards – Live at Brooklyn Bowl was released through his website along with several live recordings of shows he performed with his son William on guitar.[citation needed]

In early 2017 the single Man on the Verge was released as a taster for the Lloyd Cole in New York – Collected Recordings 1988–1996 box set.[citation needed]

The studio album Guesswork was released on 26 July 2019 by earMUSIC. Recorded (mostly) in his attic studio in Massachusetts, ‘Guesswork’ was produced by Cole and mixed by German producer Olaf Opal, with executive production from Chris Hughes.[citation needed] The record was mastered by Kai Blankenberg at Skyline Tonfabrik in Dusseldorf. The electronic sounding album also featured contributions from a.o. Fred Maher and former Commotions Blair Cowan and Neil Clark.[citation needed] It was preceded by the singles 'Violins' and ' Night Sweats'.

In 2021 Cleaning Out the Ashtrays – the 2009 collection of outtakes, alternative versions of his solo work, and cover versions – was released digitally.[citation needed]

Live performances[edit]

In 2010 Cole formed a small ensemble consisting of American musicians Mark Schwaber and Matt Cullen and, in October and November of that year, completed a tour of Europe. Further tours of New Zealand and Australia and Europe followed in 2011. In autumn 2016, Cole undertook a short tour of the UK and Europe, titled 'The Retrospective', playing acoustic versions of songs written between 1983 and 1996.

Personal life[edit]

Cole married his American wife, Elizabeth Lewis, in December 1989.[11][12][13] They live in Easthampton, Massachusetts.[14]


Some of Cole's songs have been covered by other artists. "Rattlesnakes" has been covered by Tori Amos on her Strange Little Girls album,[15][16] while Sandie Shaw has recorded a version of "(Are You) Ready to Be Heartbroken?".[17]

In 2006, Scottish band Camera Obscura released the song "Lloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken" as an answer song to Cole's 1984 hit "Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken".[18]


Lloyd Cole and the Commotions

Lloyd Cole and the Negatives

  • The Negatives (2000)



  1. ^ a b c d Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 282. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
  2. ^ "All Music Guide entry on Lloyd Cole". AllMusic.
  3. ^ Cole, Lloyd. "Buxton Adveriser – Class act by a star pupil". Lloydcole.com. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  4. ^ "Lloyd Cole". Facebook.com. Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  5. ^ Simpson, Dave (8 October 2019). "Lloyd Cole and the Commotions: how we made Rattlesnakes". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 November 2021.
  6. ^ "Magic RPM Lloyd Cole interview". Archived from the original on 29 October 2013.
  7. ^ Vanhorn, Teri (7 December 1998). "Lloyd Cole, Jill Sobule Out To Prove Two Negatives Make A Positive". MTV News. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  8. ^ "Lloyd Cole weblog". Lloyd.com. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  9. ^ "Lloyd Cole weblog". Lloyd.com. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  10. ^ "Selected Studies Vol.1". Amazon.de. 22 February 2013. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  11. ^ "Lloyd Cole weblog". Lloyd.com. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  12. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - A Good Read, Lloyd Cole and Francis Macdonald". BBC. Retrieved 20 August 2021.
  13. ^ Rogers, Jude (30 August 2015). "Lloyd Cole: 'Quite a number of fans have been completely bemused'". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 November 2021.
  14. ^ "Lloyd Cole weblog". Lloyd.com. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  15. ^ Zaleski, Annie (19 September 2021). "Tori Amos' "Strange Little Girls" is a quietly triumphant covers collection that endures 20 years on". Salon.com. Archived from the original on 20 November 2021. Retrieved 22 November 2021.
  16. ^ "Tori Amos - Strange Little Girls". Discogs. Archived from the original on 14 November 2021. Retrieved 22 November 2021.
  17. ^ "Lloyd Cole | SecondHandSongs". Secondhandsongs.com. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  18. ^ "Camera Obscura's Tracyanne Campbell vs. Lloyd Cole: The Broken Hearts Club - Interview |". Under The Radar Magazine. 16 August 2013. Archived from the original on 6 October 2021. Retrieved 22 November 2021.

External links[edit]