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  • Alistair Braidwood

Back to the Old School…

It’s not every week that one of your musical heroes releases a new album, so when two do then surely I’m allowed a certain weakness in the knees. Edwyn Collins and Lloyd Cole have new releases and I couldn’t be happier. Both CD’s come lovingly wrapped in simple, glossy, cardboard sleeves with Collins’ winning out as the nicer artifact as it is decorated with his wonderful sketches of birds (see right). I know such things count for little, but leave me alone. I’m excited.

Edwyn Collins’ album is Losing Sleep, and he has called in favours all over the shop. There’s a Crib, a Magic Number, and a couple of Ferdinands, all bands who would acknowledge the importance of Collins, and particularly Orange Juice, on their work. Very exciting are the appearances of Sir Johnny Marr and Edwyn’s musical cousin Roddy Frame. These are recording sessions that I would have offered a lung to be able to sit in on.

Losing Sleep is a real musical smorgasbord, with a bit of Motown, a splash of 50s rock n’ roll, some new wave attitude and guitars, a bag of Northern Soul and enough Orange Juice (see Orange Juice jonesing for some nostalgia) to please the folk at the back. Many of the reviews of this album have made reference to Edwyn’s recent health problems, which is fair enough as there are songs included which do likewise, but don’t judge this as an album that has overcome the odds. Just listen to one which stands up against anything released this year. This is the title track:

Lloyd Cole is back to his lyrically confident best, confident enough to nod towards Rod on the track Writers Retreat! (and how I love an unexplained exclamation). Broken Record is an album steeped in Americana, with a little banjo here, some mandolin there, and if you don’t know the man’s back catalogue you might think that he’s trying to make a record for these times, when in fact the times have caught up with what Lloyd considers to be the music that suits him best. With that in mind I can imagine that this will be his most warmly welcomed since the early 90s, when in fact he’s been making music this good all along. He also has a few friends on board such as old Commotion chum Blair Cowan, Joan (as Policewoman) Wasser and Fred Maher on drums. I enjoy it when artists get to the point when you feel that they don’t overly care what people think of their music, their going to make to their way, anyway. I think Lloyd Cole reached that point some time ago. This is the first single from Broken Record, it’s the aforementioned Writers Retreat!:

Which is my favourite? I haven’t considered them in those terms. These records have only been in my house for a week but already they have been played more than anything else bought this year (with the exception of John Grant’s sublime Queen of Denmark). I’ve tried to work out why that is. Yes, there is a bit of nostalgia, and a large dose of comfortable recognition, but there’s also some great music being made. But most of all Edwyn Collins and Lloyd Cole have made records that, when put together, sound like I feel at this moment in time.


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