The early work of Cocteau Twins, favoured by some, to me is a little indebted to Siouxsie & the Banshees & Mike Hedges-production of Associates' 'Sulk.' The band came into their own with a series of key-singles (Pearly Dewdrops Drops, Aikea-Guinea, Pink Orange Red) & the watershed album 'Treasure' (another contender for the quintessential Cocteaus album...)Following 'Treasure' they experimented somewhat- from the more ambient-climes of 'Tiny Dynamine', to the minimal 'Victorialand' (Simon Raymonde temporarily leaving to work with This Mortal Coil), & the 'new age' collaboration with Harold Budd, 'The Moon & The Melodies.' 'Blue Bell Knoll' was a return to the Frazer/Guthrie/Raymonde line-up & the ultimate summation of the sound they had been developing - follow-up album 'Heaven or Las Vegas' would emphasise words a lot more, so this is where Frazer's heavenly-nonsense reigns completely for the last time... I do know one person who thinks the opening title-track is the most perfect thing and doesn't require anymore Cocteau Twins than that- opening with some ambient-electronic-strains it builds up into one of those huge songs as Guthrie's trademark guitar cuts across the song. It sounds like the definition of Cocteau Twins, the song you would play to an inquisitive alien who wants to discuss 4AD-acts. The influence on later-generations is apparent and without 'Blue Bell Knoll', there would have been no My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Lush, Medicine, Seefeel, Chapterhouse etc. It's all a highlight, thirty-plus minutes of sublime joys, including the huge 'Cico Buff' (whose chorus says something about beauty, though I don't want to know the words, I know how they sound and feel...), 'Carolyn's Fingers' (which I believe was used in a mineral-water advert in the late 80s!), 'Suckling the Mender' (Frazer duets with herselves), 'The Itchy Glowbo Blow' & the closing pleasure that is 'Ella Megalast Burls Forever' (the best song-titles since 'Trout Mask Replica', incidentally...) 'Blue Bell Knoll' was my favourite album of 1988, and stands out as a key release in the Eighties; the 2004-remaster reminds you how wonderful it is - perhaps people will rediscover this band now they're reforming?
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