For Lloyd Cole fans, and lovers of good music everywhere, the 59 songs contained in Lloyd Cole's CLEANING OUT THE ASHTRAYS--primarily B-sides, alternative mixes of album tracks and songs whose planned releases never materialised--offer a treasure trove of lyrical and vocal brilliance.
As excellent as the music is, there are just as many heartbreaks, bittersweet moments, heroes and villains contained in the liner notes as on the disks themselves. In the booklet that comes inside this attractively packaged 4-CD box set, Cole's personal essays tell not only the stories behind the songs but also provide an intriguing look at the challenges of keeping a musical career moving in the right (or any) direction throughout all the recent convulsions of the record business.
Why did some of these tracks stay unreleased for so long? Cole informs us, for example, that "Bad Vibes sold so badly that we never made it to releasing the third single..." How easy is it to build on a successful single? After `Like Lovers Do' from 1995s Love Story
became a hit in the UK, Cole notes that, "`Baby' failed to chart and we were back to business as usual..."
Read along as you listen, or just sit back and enjoy alternate versions of Cole classics such as: Don't Look Back, No Blue Skies, Butterfly, Morning Is Broken, Like Lovers Do and Sentimental Fool. Plus great B-sides like: The Witching Hour, Wild Orphan, Blame Mary Jane and Millionaire. I'm also partial to his various Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed, Marc Bolan and Burt Bacharach cover versions, including: Chelsea Hotel #2, Vicious, Mystic Lady, Children of the Revolution and I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself.
CLEANING OUT THE ASHTRAYS gets five stars from me. No ifs or butts.