Friday, September 4, 2015

Top 100 Songs From the 1990s (No. 21)

21. "No Blue Skies"
Artist: Lloyd Cole
Year: 1990

Remember how tough it was to trim your list when playing along with JC during his imaginary album series on Lloyd Cole and the Commotions? Well, I'm here to tell you if you were asked to do one based on Cole's '90s solo work, it would be much easier. That's not to say there weren't some great moments during the decade, and you can construct a very nice 10-song mix from the decade, as I just did, but chances are there won't be a mess of leftovers like when you put one together from his days with the Commotions.

Actually, I may not have a firm grasp of how revered or reviled Cole was in the '90s, and I'm interested to read about your favorite songs. For me, my fandom was high when Cole released his first solo album. Cole was deep into his "babe" phase, and "No Blue Skies" has a "Baby" (or 10) on this haunting slow burner. Sad and gorgeous. Damn those clean well-read girls. They do put you through the ringer.

For those readers from the UK, you may be interested to know Cole has only had one brief period of commercial success in America, and it might surprise you that it came during this album and the next, the unfortunately named 'Don't Get Weird on Me, Babe.' "Downtown," "She's a Girl and I'm a Man" and "Tell Your Sister" all cracked the top 10 of Billboard's Alternative Songs countdown. Yes, that's a real chart... and yes, that's Cole's entire chart history over here. Another travesty uncovered.


Anonymous said...

I've pretty much git everything lc has recorded and I had a go at the solo top 10 but had to give up just too many great songs. His last 3 are perfect examples of "grown up" pop. I don't mean in that awful dinner party way but in addressing what it means to get older. If I were to chose the best LPs , the debut , the most commotions like love story , the more recent antidepressant and the string augmented side of don't get weird on me baby. That's before the wonderful odds and sods box set cleaning out the ashtrays. Strangely I think I'm a man is one the worst singles he has released!

Brian said...

Great to hear from you. If you try to create a 10-song personal best of from all of Cole's post Commotions work, you will end up tearing your hair out. Outside of Love Story, when it comes to the '90s, I'm more about individual songs. For example, I don't think Bad Vibes is a great album, but I love Morning Is Broken and So You'd Like to Save the World... both of those made my 10 from the decade. For me, the more recent "grown up" pop, as you aptly put it, exceeds just about everything that qualified for this '90s countdown. Women's Studies has quickly become an all-time favorite Cole song. I'm not a big fan of I'm a Man either. Why can't we ever seem to get it right over here?

The Swede said...

Great choice. I'd be interested to see your 10 solo songs from the 90's. I haven't played those 4 albums for a while, but you've encouraged me to renew my acquaintance with them. I saw him on an early solo tour with Matthew Sweet and Robert Quine in his band - not a bad line-up!

Brian said...

I liked that band. In fact, Sweet's background vocals on No Blue Skies is what probably puts this one on top. Sounds like something Sweet might have done on Altered Beast. OK, I brought up the 10 songs from the '90s. So, I'm obliged to show my cards. These are not in imaginary album order:

No Blue Skies
Don't Look Back
There For Her
Morning is Broken
So You'd Like to Save the World
Can't Get Arrested
Trigger Happy
Like Lovers Do

On a different day maybe Margo's Waltz for Don't Look Back. MW is such an oddball in style that it's difficult to make it work in this setting. Americans may balk at choices from Don't Get Weird and the first one. As has been mentioned, some big hits over here didn't make the cut.

Echorich said...

Perfect placement for this wonderful track! Coming on the home stretch Brian - and I can see this is going to be great!!!

Brian said...

Thanks for sticking with it, Echorich. The '90s are torture for both of us, but we'll have a good laugh about it when it's all over.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree re bad vibes . My least favourite. However the 2 tracks you mention are fantastic. There is a great alt version of morning on cleaning out the ashtrays

Uncle E said...

Hey Brian, great choice. Yes, weird title for an album, but aside from Rattlesnakes it's my favorite Cole LP.

Brian said...

FORW, I bought that box set just to hear that alt version.

E, I thought I might hear from you about Weird. I knew how highly you are on it. I like it too, but I'm not really that hot for the American hits. The flip side is far more interesting. This is as good a time as any to admit a mistake above that I just noticed. My Bag made it to No. 13 on that alternative songs chart. There, now that takes care of Cole over here.

kevinpat said...

So okay, I was intrigued by all the love for Lloyd Cole here. I must admit he never did anything for me but on such great authority I decided to dig deeper than the Commotions album I could never get through. After all, the track you chose Brian is really nice. I like it. But I sampled many others, including the list you offered, which was very helpful. I still got nothing. Most likely it's that voice. Cole has no range and stays in the same place the whole song.He seems to rely on his lyrics for emotion and I like his words. But the delivery is too plaintive for me. Nice arrangements! Creative wordsmithing. But just seems drab and a little put-on. SORRY!!! (it's me…..) But unlike the next track, Ron Sexsmith's Secret Heart, which sparkles and although Sexsmith doesn't have a great range either there's a lot of soul to his singing and he sings from his heart. I don't get that from Cole. Tell me I'm wrong. I want to be wrong. I enjoy and appreciate all the folks here and I respect your opinions. But to me it's just Christmas Cole. (hehehehehe) And not Nat King.