Thursday, July 21, 2016

ABCs of My Vinyl Collection (Letter C, Part 17)

I didn't really "get" Cocteau Twins until fairly late in the game. The album that did it for me was the 1988 album 'Blue Bell Knoll.' This would be the first album for many of us on this side of the pond because it was the first to receive major-label distribution in America. That happens to be the year I bought my first CD player. I would go back and buy 'Treasure' in relatively short order. Later, in 1990, I would be first in line to get 'Heaven or Las Vegas.' To this day, that's probably still my favorite. What can I say? I'm a pop fan at heart, and that album is the most accessible. It also probably explains why I prefer Kate Bush's 'Hounds of Love' to her other work.

So, I have three albums from Cocteau Twins, but they are all on the wrong format for this series. That's the way things stood until 2012 when I visited Stephen Pastel's record shop in Glasgow. The singles collection 'Stars and Topsoil' was released on vinyl for the first time on that very day, and I thought it would be cool to pick it up in the band's home country.

In recent years, I can't tell you how many times I have been disappointed with new vinyl purchases. If, like me, you buy a lot of wax, you no doubt have run into the same quality-assurance problems I have. Every time I open a new record I cross my fingers it won't be warped, chock full of surface noise or just plain poor in sound. 'Stars and Topsoil' is not one of these problem albums. All four sides of the vinyl sound perfect, and I often play it on my stereo just because I love how wonderfully it fills the room. From that album comes today's selection. "Carolyn's Fingers" was, I believe, a U.S.-only single, and it's the song that got me to buy Cocteau Twins for the first time. I don't think Elizabeth Fraser's voice ever sounded better.

"Carolyn's Fingers"

6 comments:

Echorich said...

I enjoyed Cocteau Twins from the beginning, but when they finally performed in NYC, made the audience at Danceteria wait until approx. 2:30am to play an abreviated show and then sounded, to be blunt, shit, I was waking around with burnt fingers. I got back into them with Blue Bell Knoll and I agree, Heave Or Las Vegas is just a massive album.

The Swede said...

I cherry picked my way through the Cocteau Twins catalogue as it was released, but 'Carolyn's Fingers' is far and away my favourite tune of theirs. Quite majestic.
I never saw them live, though a friend (and mega-fan) did, suffering much the same level of disappointment as Echorich. Elizabeth's crushing stagefright got the better of her apparently.

charity chic said...

My PC won't let me open Cutpi unfortunately Brian but like Grangemouth's finest

Brian said...

Thanks for telling me that, CC. That explains the discrepancy between the number of visitors to the post and the cutpi link. This is the first time I ever used the service... and perhaps the last. I just want to find a good alternative to zippy. Seems shadier than ever. Will keep looking.

I never saw Cocteau Twins, but I had heard they weren't the best on stage. Y'all seem to be confirming that. It's a tough sound to emulate live, methinks. Stage fright wouldn't help.

charity chic said...

Let me know if you find a viable alternative to Zippy Brian. I share your concerns

JC said...

box is worth going with....but only with a subscription (approx $10 a month)