1961 – January 31. Buxton, Derbyshire – LC born to Brian and Brenda Cole.
1983 – LC and Blair Cowan leave Glasgow University to become professional musicians. Lloyd Cole and the Commotions sign publishing deal with April Music (soon to become CBS Songs).
1984 – February – Commotions sign to Polydor UK.
April – Perfect Skin released, reaches #26 on UK singles chart, band appear on Top of The Pops.
October – album Rattlesnakes released to near universal praise, stays in the UK top 100 for 12 months. Band sign to Geffen in North America.
1985 – Rattlesnakes released in N. America. Band tour to generally packed rooms full of earnest hipsters. Continued chart success in Europe with Brand New Friend and Lost Weekend and the album Easy Pieces. Critics are less excited by these offerings, though.
1987 – LC and the Commotions release their final album Mainstream which is critically lauded but performs less well in the record shops.
1988 – LC moves to New York City. Mainstream released in N. America on Capitol. No tour to promote it, as there is no longer a band.
1989 – Lloyd Cole and the Commotions 1984-1989 is released worldwide and sells well.
LC records in New York with Fred Maher (Scritti Politti, Lou Reed), Robert Quine (Richard Hell, Lou Reed), Blair Cowan from the Commotions and the then unknown bass player Matthew Sweet. All the while his hair is growing longer. LC and Elizabeth Lewis are married two days before Christmas. Honeymoon in Paris and then..
1990 – Lloyd Cole (the X album) released to huge record company marketing campaign and expectation. Life size scowling LC figures are found in record stores all around the world. The album is critically acclaimed and vaults LC to superstar status in France and Sweden, but nowhere else. On the sell out world tour LC shocks Commotions fans with dirty loud rock music. Not all are happy with LC’s reinvention.
1991 – LC and Blair Cowan co-write a group of songs which cry out for an Orchestra, at the same time LC is writing rock tunes. Decides to make deliberately schizophrenic album. Produced by the same Lloyd Cole team with the addition of legendary string arranger Paul Buckmaster (Elton John, Rolling Stones) recorded in NYC and LA Dont Get Weird On Me, Babe received great reviews and a huge marketing campaign, but a hit cannot be bought and although sales are again healthy, Polydor and Capitol must be becoming frustrated.
1993 – Having bought a swanky NYC pad and installed a recording studio at huge expense LC sets about making a record that doesn’t sound like a Lloyd Cole record. Electro/Dance remixer Adam Peters is brought in as producer. Did Bad Vibes succeed in its goal of not sounding like a Lloyd record? Not really, but it did prove the final straw for Capitol who decided to pass on it. In the rest of the world things went little better.
October 4th – Elizabeth gives birth to to a healthy baby boy – William.
1995 – After almost a year in the studio with Adam Peters, Adam and Chris Hughes, Stephen Street, and eventually no producer LC delivers Love Story. Hailed as back to basics, return to form, etc, LC finds himself back on Top of the Pops with his first solo hit Like Lovers Do.
1996 – After the struggle that was the making of Love Story Polygram actually had faith in LC to produce the next record himself. A band was put together from the previous years touring band with the addition of Robert Quine on electric Guitar and Neil Clark on lap steel. The album was delivered at the end of the year and mixed early 1997. Polygram A&R man Dave Bates and new publisher Chrysalis were both very happy with it…
1997 – Howard Berman, however, the managing director or Polygram, was less enthused. The album was never released.
1998 – LC finds himself in a sort of limbo. He not only had an album in the can on a record company he was no longer with, but also half an album of songs recorded with the band he’d put together as an antidote to his relationship with Polygram.
The Negatives played every couple of months in NYC and LC found that there was an element to playing live music that had hitherto eluded him – having fun. the Negatives covered songs by Kraftwerk and Bruce Springsteen and with three guitars and no keyboards they could make quite a racket, and it was never a chore…
1999 – January 3trd – Elizabeth gives birth to to another healthy baby boy – Frank.
LC decides that he wants his next album to be the collected recordings of the Negatives and a few of the tunes from the 1996 album which the band were playing in their set. This was still not quite a whole album so the band went back into the studio on LCs budget and recorded 3 final songs.
Towards the end of the year the Coles finally leave NYC moving to Western Massachusetts, 3 hours North.
2000 – With time on his hands while lawyers negotiate the future of his Polygram recorded material LC learns Macromedia Flash and builds the first lloydcole.com.
The Negatives is released. The band embark upon their first and last US tour, and overseas playing student festivals in Portugal and major concerts in London, Paris and Rio de Janeiro.
2002 – Live acoustic performances have become LC’s primary income source. He has inadvertently become a folk singer and decides to make his idea of a folk record in his rented studio space with a few guitars and some synthesizers. Signs with Sanctuary Records.
2004 – Lloyd Cole and the Commotions are reunited for a month to celebrate the release of Rattlesnakes deluxe edition. Rehearsals are in Glasgow and the band play to packed houses at the famous Barrowlands, and then in Dublin, Manchester and London.
2007 – The BBC/Universal release the collected Commotions and solo recordings at the BBC – studio sessions and live recordings from 1984 to 1995 in 3 volumes.
2008 -Three nights at Dublin’s Whelan’s nightclub are recorded.
LC liaises with Tapete records in Hamburg towards the release of a rarities box set – many hours spent auditioning old DAT and cassette tapes and many forgotten recordings are unearthed.
2009 – Tapete Records release Cleaning out the ashtrays. Weighing in at 59 songs over 4 CDs, it is substantial and is warmly received by fans and critics alike – “two decades of thoughtful, literate pop . . . one of our finest songwriters” Independent on Sunday (UK)
Coinciding with this release LC and Tapete join forces to produce the Folksinger Series – live acoustic recordings. Volume 1 – Radio Bremen – highlights of a single 2003 concert. Volume 2 – The Whelan – the best of the three nights in Dublin, recorded and mixed by Mick Glossop.
LC forms a semi-official fan community team – The Young Idealists. The YIs poster coffee shops and bars in advance of concerts and CD releases, they sell CDs at shows, they code websites…
LC forms an acoustic trio with local musicians Mark Schwaber and Matt Cullen. The Small Ensemble set to work on new material and old. LC and Matt learn the banjo, Mark learns the mandolin.
The Commotions reunite in Glasgow to play two songs and receive the Tartan Clef lifetime achievement award.
2010 – The Small Ensemble play a mini tour, driving to Chicago and back. Before embarking they spend 12 hours in the studio recording 12 songs. The result LC’s first white label (not an album) CD- Lloyd Cole Small Ensemble Slaughterhouse Studios 01/22/2010.
Funded by Tapete Records and 1000 LC fans, Broken Record is LCs first old school full band record in almost a decade. The album was released in Europe in September to almost unanimous critical acclaim. The Small Ensemble toured until the Summer of 2011.
2011 – Most of 2011 is taken up with touring after Broken Record, with the Small Ensemble and then solo.
In 2002 legendary Austrian composer and krautrock pioneer Hans Joachim Roedelius heard LC’s Plastic Wood and liked it enough to make is own, unsolicited re-mix. Nine years later they finally come up with a plan for a record together – they will exchange ‘unfinished’ tracks, for the other to complete. LC holes up in his attic with his brand new modular synthesizer.
2012 – By the end of January LC has finished his work on the Roedelius tracks and has sent his files to Austria. By the end of the year an album is complete.
LC tours with eldest son Will, as an acoustic duo. Later, LC and Will enter the studio to document the arrangements from the shows. The result – Lloyd & Will Cole Acoustic Sessions 2012 , a second white label CD.
Late September LC is back to the attic with notes and ideas for new songs. Fans and Tapete have again funded a new album. A start date in LA with old cohorts Fred Maher and Matthew Sweet is set. LC decides to make no demos, but hopes to have all songs completed before the LA sessions, and then to work ‘Blonde on Blonde’ style with Maher and Sweet. 2 months of solid writing yields an album’s worth of songs. Recording goes to schedule and overdubs begin in Massachusetts in December. Musicians include Will Cole, Small Ensemble guitarists Schwaber and Cullen, Commotion Blair Cowan, Joan (as Policewoman) Wasser and Dave Derby.
2013 – Selected Studies Vol. 1 is released in February to (rather surprising) universal acclaim.
“All instrumental, dreamier than one might expect from Cole and bouncier than one might expect from Roedelius, this is a worthy, surprisingly melodic set likely to surprise fans from both camps. Recommended.” ROLLING STONE
Recording continues through February. The album – 11 new songs, ten written by LC – is mixed in Bochum, Germany by Olaf Opal.
Standards is released in June. Everyone – fans and critics alike seem to love it.
Classic Pop calls it “…a timeless classic.”
Standards solo tour begins in the Autumn but is interrupted by the Later… with Jools Holland TV show. LC performs 3 songs with The Leopards.
2014 – January – Lloyd Cole and the Leopards perform 4 UK shows. LC’s first full electric band shows since the early 2000’s with The Negatives.
The solo tour resumes and continues all year.
In October Standards is released in North America by Omnivore Recordings garnering a second wave of acclaim.
” … by far Lloyd Cole’s finest solo album by a Country mile and in the future will no doubt be compared favourably with his earliest work with the Commotions.” —NO DEPRESSION
2015 – The Standards solo tour finally reaches North America, and at the time of writing continues.
On April 29th Universal/Spectrum release Don’t Look Back, a 20 track compilation of LC’s time at what was then Polygram.
On June 29th Universal release Lloyd Cole and the Commotions Collected Recordings 1983-1989, a six disc box set.
From Uncut “… the Commotions excelled at making young man’s music: occasionally clumsy and anxious to show off… but also brimming with words, ideas and the propulsive energy of precocious youth.”
And Record Collector “… a highly treasurable slab of erudite, age-defying pop.”
Classic Pop wrote “there is enough here to make most aspirant songwriters with an inclination to be louche and literary weep with envy.”
In September LC made his debut as a live electronic performer with two Berlin shows, the first with Hans Joachim Roedelius at a festival celebrating of his 80th birthday. The second, an intimate solo show at Basic Electricity, was recorded and one piece can be heard here.
To coincide with these shows Bureau B released LC’s third full length electronic album – 1D. Fans and critics are polarized by the album with the pleasantly surprised seemingly slightly outnumbering the bemused. Chris Hughes supplied the artwork and then expanded it into a video for the track Renes.
2016 – The Retrospective Year
Lloyd Cole and the Commotions Collected Recordings 1983-1989 was received so warmly, was universally acclaimed, and sold out more quickly than UMG anticipated. A second box is proposed, and work has begun. Spanning 1989 – 1996 – LC’s first four solo albums, the lost fifth album, plus rarities and videos is penciled by UMG for a September release. A second pressing of the Commotions box is coming, Omnivore are in discussions with UMG and LC with a mind to release single album deluxe editions in vinyl and CD format.
With so much focus on these early songs LC decides to devote 2016 to the celebration and promotion of the box sets. All performances this year will feature material from 1983 – 1996 only.
Lloyd Cole and the Leopards will reassemble in August to perform two Rewind festivals, and very probably several other shows (this is very much a work in progress at the time of writing). Solo shows are being booked worldwide.
Between the archival box set work, day to day clerical duties and press release composition LC claims also to be working on new songs for a 2017 album release.
Lloyd Cole and the Commotions
1984 – Rattlesnakes
1985 – Easy Pieces
1987 – Mainstream
1989 – Lloyd Cole and the Commotions 1984-1989 (compilation)
2004 – Rattlesnakes Deluxe Edition
2007 – Live at the BBC Vol 1 & Vol 2
2015 – Collected Recordings 1983-1989 (box set coming June 29)
1990 – Lloyd Cole
1991 – Don’t Get Weird On Me, Babe
1993 – Bad Vibes
1995 – Love Story
1999 – The Collection (compilation)
2000 – The Negatives
2001 – etc, Plastic Wood, 2001 Collected Works 1996-2000
2003 – Music In a Foreign Language
2004 – The Singles (compilation)
2006 – Antidepressant
2007 – Live at the BBC
2009 – Cleaning out the ashtrays – 4 CD set of outtakes and rarities
2009 – Radio Bremen (Folksinger Volume 1)
2009 – The Whelan (Folksinger Volume 2)
2010 – Broken Record
2013 – Selected Studies Vol. 1 (with HJ Roedelius)
2013 – Standards
2015 – Lloyd Cole and the Commotions Collected Recordings 1983-1989
2015 – 1D
Photo credits (top to bottom)