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on 14 May 2017
For fans only....not as good as Lloyd's other box sets
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VINE VOICEon 6 March 2009
A complete gem of a collection, and the best I've seen in the box-set line since Warren Zevon's "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead". This collects all of the material from Cole's post-Commotions work to his Antidepressant album of a couple of years ago. Despite the title, no barrels have been scraped. All of the tracks were produced for release, either as bonus tracks, versions which didn't make albums, contributions to compilation albums and an absolute gem of a dance remix of "Butterfly"
Not a casual purchase, to be sure, but very rewarding. Cole's extensive notes on the songs are as wry and funny as his lyrics, the box art is lovely, and, all in all, this is a handsome and rewarding collection.

I was looking for his "Folksinger" disks here (two CDs of solo live performances). Can't see them, but will keep looking.
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on 22 January 2010
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.
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on 7 March 2009
I'm a very big Lloyd Cole fan. I used to hunt for rare Lloyd Cole b sides in record shops all over the country in my mid 20's. (Well you couldn't really tell before the Internet came along if you definitely had *everything*) No I'm not actually mad. Obsessive maybe, but not mad. Two of my good friends also like Lloyd Cole but never actually spent all of their time and money searching out all the CD singles (or albums for that matter) to complete their collection. Why? Because they knew they could get them off me - not true Lloyd Cole fans you see. One of them used to send me postcards from various holidays he went on and would always leave a p.s. at the foot saying something like 'Been looking in old bric a brac stores for Lloyd Cole b sides but no luck' etc.

I'm in my late thirties now but back in my mid twenties I went to stay with one of these two friends in London - they told me they had a real treat for me and had found a new Lloyd Cole b side in a backstreet London record store. Excitedly I sat down and waited for the musical feast to begin. It turned out that they were taking the proverbial 'Michael' and had actually recorded the track themselves with an mouthorgan and set of drums.

The point of telling you these things is to hopefully get you to understand why this is a must have item for any true obsessive Lloyd Cole fan. It neatly packages together all of his unreleased and rare material since he split from the Commotions in 1989, all in one neat box with a lovely commentary from Lloyd himself about what the tracks are doing there.

I won't miss searching through those back street record stores - I know I've got all his b sides now! If you are a fan of Lloyd Cole then this box set will complete your collection...

...for now
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One of my favourite Lloyd Cole & The Commotions tracks, 'Lonely Mile', which was on the B side of the 'From The Hip' single, isn't on here, and as far as I can gather is not available anywhere. I had to buy a very expensive second hand copy. Ho, and indeed hum. However, that very personal and minor gripe aside, this box set is a wonderful trawl through Cole's voluminous back pages, and proof positive that some of his B sides and ephemera beats most acts' entire albums in terms of songcraft and appeal. Not everything is great, as he admits himself, but Cole's illuminating liner notes reveal much about the times and circumstances of the individual songs under scrutiny, and where he was at back then.

I wouldn't recommend this to anyone new to Cole's music, but for those already on the Cole bus, it is an essential purchase. Lloyd's not the greatest singer in the world, but he tailors his songs to his vocal limitations brilliantly, and his way with words has never lost him. If you've got the time, settle back and give this a thorough listen. It gets better every time.
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on 19 January 2010
I have been collecting Lloyd Cole releases since 1980's. This one was even better than I expected: lots on unreleased material and previously unavailable recordings and versions of familiar songs. I was quite surprised by amount of completely new material (because I have all his albums).
A must buy!
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on 17 March 2015
King Cole.
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on 18 November 2015
Amazing Lloyd Cole as ever
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on 6 June 2015
A must for Lloyd Cole fan
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