on 11 July 2000
Ah... My entire life seemed to revolve around this album back in 1990/91. It was my first taste of the Cocteaus and remains my favourite album. It's only 37 minutes long but by the time track 10 fades out you'll swear you've been listening to it for hours, such is the emotional sweep that pervades it and carries the listener along. For me, the standout tracks were Cherry Coloured Funk, Fifty Fifty Clown, Pitch the baby, Heaven or Las Vegas and Road River & Rail. However, after playing those ones to death I 'rediscovered' the other five songs and played them to death too. Ten years later this album remains one of my top two albums of all time (the other being Hats by the Blue Nile). Heaven or Las Vegas was the Cocteau Twins at their finest, though theit next album, Four Calendar Cafe, was also sublime, though it marked the beginning of the end. Check out the predecessor Blue Bell Knoll too: the Coc's first foray into keyboard/sequencer dominated sounds and away from the murky guitar and echoes of their past. And if you're REALLY lucky you'll track down the CD single of Iceblink Luck, the single from Heaven or Las Vegas, which features two unreleased tracks on the 'b' side, both of which are gorgeous (and it's quite beyond me why they were left off the album.) Heaven or Las Vegas? Well it sure ain't Las Vegas.
on 16 March 2003
In 1984 I purchased 'Treasure', mostly because the cover looked fascinating, the song titles looked intriguing, and track one
sounded ok. It changed my life forever.
The Cocteau Twins were not just a band, they were an entire chapter in musical history. Loads of musicians, especially half the ones at 4AD, took something from them and came up with beautiful music. The masters themselves evolved from distorted guitars on debut album 'Garlands' to a concept of blending lots of melodies, rhythms and vocals together. On their predecessor, 'Blue Bell Knoll', the result was just a little too technical, a bit too artificial. Then, a few years later, on 'Heaven Or Las Vegas' they hit perfection.
Ten songs, ten masterpieces. And you can hardly even begin to describe their music. It's not very loud, but not really soft either. Some songs are quick, some are quiet. Some are complicated, some relatively simple. The melodies are hard to grasp - or are they? After a few times you hum every song along with your CD, so they're not that hard then, are they? But then, when you've turned off your CD-player you suddenly find you can only remember one or two at best. It's that kind of music, simple, yet complex. You can listen to this album and discover something new for at least twenty times. There's such a diversity on this album - listen to the vocal acrobatics on 'I wear your ring', the pulsating guitars on 'Fotzepolitic', or the romantic moods from 'Road, river and rail'. Then there's the intoxicating chorus on 'Iceblink luck' and the deceptively simple rhythms in 'Fifty-fifty clown'. And that's just half the album for you.
If you feel you like progressive rock music - or maybe just *any* kind of rock music - you'll never regret buying this one.
on 30 July 2010
I love the Cocteau Twins. A dynamic duo comprising Robin Guthrie on guitar and assorted noises, and Liz Fraser on vocals and assorted lyrical nonsensicals. They are creators of a kind of musical utopia that you can enter by listening to their songs. And as you listen you begin to craft your own imagery and meaning to their work. The sound of pearly dewdrops' drops falling to the ground on a misty September morning. A lazy calm as a flower unfolds itself to capture the summer sunlight. Lyrics that tantalize you with half-heard phrases that defy interpretation - perhaps they can only be understood in a dream. They provide the soundtrack to your imagination.
All their best songs provide a glorious cacophony; a guitar-based wall of sound gently colliding with a perfectly tuned voice that sweeps you to a place of perfect contentment or emotional ecstasy. 'Heaven or Las Vegas' is a great introduction to the musical delights of the Cocteau Twins. The opening track, 'Cherry-coloured funk' is a perfect example of the Cocteau Twins style. It just exudes coolness. Liz effects a deep, sultry voice that purrs with contentment and then slowly her voice rises to a glorious crescendo to match the chiming guitars. Just gorgeous.
`Iceblink Luck' takes the Smiths' `The Boy with the Thorn in his side' riff apart and reassembles it into something far more urgent. Liz infuses her voice with an added fizz of emotion to match the music and launches into a near-rant about tearing down a madhouse and burning down the Walls of Jericho. It's all, as Liz sings (I think) 'exquisite stuff'.
The title track, 'Heaven or Las Vegas' is positively anthemic. A plethora of guitars and thumping drums conjure up a vast, endless landscape and coming into view is Vegas simmering in the Nevada desert. Liz describes it as looking `brighter than the sun is to me'. More like heaven than a dusty, desert town. This reminds me of Talking Heads' `Big Country' which uses similar sweeping guitars to convey the immensity of the American landscape. The last verse that begins (or at least *sounds like* it begins), `Baby bear, I'd love to see you ...' gets my spine tingling every time. Play loud, very loud.
In summary, there is no polemic or treatise here to mull over, just pure unadulterated pleasure at the music that this band have created that still sounds good even after over twenty years of playing. It's not rock `n' roll but neither is it meaningless ambient trance. It's a timeless, sometimes achingly beautiful and life-affirming musical delight.
on 16 May 2003
Ten tracks. Not ten songs. Ten vast, heavenly, swirling atmospheres. There isn't really a track here that has a recognisable structure and there is no way to describe this music unless you've already heard it. It is the sort of music that conjures up images of places you've never been and drags you up to somewhere else. And there's the voice. Oh yes, the voice. There is simply no-one else alive who can, or has ever even thought to sing like this. Ice Blink Luck is one of the most beautiful, life-affirming songs ever and I can only make out about five words in it. Elsewhere Fotzepolitic is the sort of music that school girls could skip to, fifty-fifty clown could soundtrack a fairytale and the title track is the best dream you've ever had. Cherry-flavoured funk is possibly the best (definitely the most original) female vocal performance of all time. I will re-emphasize that no other band can create an atmosphere with music in the way that these can. Early suede, durutti column, my bloody valentine and the cure all come close, but it's just the voice. It's so original, the soft guitar and the fuzzy bass. You get the impression that glitter will start flying out of your stereo when you first press play. It doesn't though, so buy this, buy some sort of lighting effect from gadget shop, lay back and prepare to have your breath taken away.
on 9 October 2008
I bought this album years and years ago...and then my sister nicked it. And I forgot about it.
But then Amazon had it going in their sale for less than £5.00 so I thought 'why not'?
What a classic album. I'm sat here, listening to it now. It just hasn't aged at all.
A rare thing with the Cocteau's, just about understandable lyrics, but still with that ethereal winsomeness that is such a trade-mark of all their albums.
O.k., I suppose you could say that this is the most 'commercial' Cocteau album. Who cares? It's got some beautiful tunes, some gorgeous productions, some classic songs.
From the promising, slightly down-tempo 'Cherry-Coloured Funk', the album moves into the lilting, almost circular 'Pitch the Baby'. After dreaming off, we wake up to 'Iceblink Luck', with that lovely bell-like guitar and melodious bass and glorious chorus. Then, suddenly, 'Fifty-Fifty Clowns', that insistent beat, smooth keyboard chords stepping through up to a climax, wilting vocals behind a wailing guitar, but so smooth and mellifluous.
Then we have the almost rousing chant-like `Heaven or Las Vegas'. No idea what she's singing about, don't really care, but it's something about being in either Heaven or Las Vegas. That unmistakable Cocteau bass and guitar, loads of reverb softening the sound to the typical sonic dreamscape.
Oh, and then `I Wear Your Ring'. This album just keeps getting better. That lovely, stepping up, almost gasping vocal harmony. `Fotzepolitic', electric twelve string guitars or something, almost an electronic acoustic strumming wall of sound. `Wolf in the Breast', again, a lovely soft melody, with a gently howling guitar, but a harmony that just keeps reminding me, somehow, of late Beach Boys.
`Road, River and Rail' is a seriously down-beat track, almost sounding Joni Mitchell-ish, circa Hejiraand then, finally, `Frou Frou Foxes in Midsummer Fires', a gentle, laid-back start, reminiscent of older Cocteau, blossoming into a fairly conventional (for the Cocteau's) song, finally fading away.
A lovely album. The Cocteau's have been so influential. Talking of Frou Frou, I was listening to a Frou Frou album (Details) the other day and noticed how much it owed, not only to Bjork, but also to the Cocteau's. This is one fine album which I am very happy to own again.
Their last album for 4AD and without doubt their best. With this and the previous “Blue Bell Knoll” their sound had become much sharper with an airiness and clarity not present on earlier releases, especially so on this re-master. There is such an exuberance about this record, maybe due in part to Elizabeth Fraser’s impending status of motherhood at the time of recording. Whatever, the performances are very buoyant with actual words being used on many songs. The title track is so energetic that the vocals and guitars almost burst out of the mix. Other beauties on this are the single “Iceblink Luck” and the absolutely gorgeous closer of “Frou-Frou Foxes In Midsummer Fires”. But the whole album exudes warmth and joyfulness. A fitting end to the 4AD years.
on 11 May 2013
Unfortunately Amazon does not respect the different Version of this album and summarizes everything under just the name.
But this so called Remastered Version is an insult to any audiophile with a decent HiFi set-up. The Loudness has wiped out any musicality and differentiation. Now everything a mash to the point that even the voice sounds shrill. It is headache inducing.
Please, dear Music industry, spare us the Loudness BS.
In the comment find the shocking numbers to loudness.
on 11 August 2005
The Cocteau Twins were always a bit of an oddity, with singer Elizabet Frazer singing uninteligable words over an almost pcsycadelic backing. But, against the odds, it worked, and worked well over a whole career of albums.
This, however, is both their most commercially successful album and their best one. Liz 'discovered' the English language on this one and mixes in clear phrases in English which helped to make them more accessible. The quartet of treated guitar, bass and drums with Liz's warm and sensual vocals over the top, reaches its peak here.
It even spawned a hit single (Iceblink Luck). The album always sounded good, but it sounds even better now...
Just hear the wonderous title track, or the delicate closer Frou Frou Foxes in Midsummer Fires and you'll see what I mean.
The belated compilation album Stars and Topsoil is the best way to discover the charms of this band, but once you have that and want to explore further, then this should be your next stop...
Victorialand may beat this collection for sheer beauty of sound, but this collection has the better songs. The cover is lush even by 4AD's usual standards...
Go on, give you ears a treat....
on 17 July 2007
If creativity is to be found in the originators of a genre - those who are 'sufficiently' creative to actually create a style that goes on to later 'become' a recognisable genre - then the Cocteau Twins are indeed higly creative.
While this all sounds good, the issue I have with my statement above is that The Cocteau Twins did not create a genre, per se. They did form a path for bands like Portishead, Lamb and the like to employ heavenly female vocals over often dark music. However, the Twins' music, sound, and vocalisation has never been attempted, let alone repeated. So if mimickry is the highest form of flattery, then it appears that not many wish to flatter them!
However, I think, because the Twins' sound is so complete, so distinct, and so brave, that no one has the courage, or the skill, to match their sonic vision.
Most Cocteau Twins albums are worth owning. This one is a must.
I am unashamed giving this album 5 stars. No-one could dispute the five-star treatment of this album. Everything about this album is great. It is a timeless piece of work, brought out at a time when I think there was a general lull in the quality of music production and output.
Give this album to a 14-year-old boy, and it'll broaden his appreciation of musical styles for life. That's what it has done for me.
Heaven or Las Vegas? I'd say more Heaven than Las Vegas...
on 15 October 2003
I have only recently discovered the Cocteau Twins, rather belatedly (its 2003), but within 3 weeks I have purchased 6 of their albums and have 3 more on order.
They are the most wonderful CDs I have ever owned (and I have hundreds).
But the VERY BEST ONE of all is Heaven or Las Vegas.
There's not a bad song on it - in fact, I love every one. Each is unique, each has the most astonishing melodies, vocals and instrumentation. And each is so unusual that even after dozens of listens, I can't get tired of them.
Iceblink Luck is probably now my all time first equal song (up there with Cico Buff from Blue Bell Knoll).
If you wonder what the Cocteau Twins are like - buy this one - you'll never regret it!
(and the second best is Blue Bell Knoll - get that too!)