Lloyd Cole was a Top 40 artist for two decades, releasing a string of popular albums with the Commotions during the 1980s before launching a successful solo career in 1990. For the past decade, however, he’s enjoyed a much quieter career, often playing shows for his dedicated fans but rarely, if ever, occupying the spotlight.

“Broken Record,” his most recent album, shows just how dedicated Mr. Cole’s fans can be. Eager to make a record on his own terms, he took a page from Jill Sobule, his friend and fellow songwriter, by reaching out directly to his audience.

“I realized Jill Sobule was brassy enough to basically say to her fans, ‘Just give me money because I’m making a record,’ ” he explained earlier this month, several days before the launch of his American summer tour. “And her people did it. I ended saying something similar – ‘I’m gonna make a record, this is how I want to do it, and here’s the budget’ – because I realized that if we sold a number of deluxe editions before we even made the record, we could make the kind of record we wanted to.”

Forty percent of the recording budget wound up coming from Mr. Cole’s fans, 1,000 of whom shelled out $45 apiece during a presale. “Broken Record” was released overseas last year, with the American release following this May. Since then, the album has been earning some of the warmest reviews of his career.

“I always do a CD signing after each show,” Mr. Cole said, “and I’ve met a lot of people who donated to the record. It’s cool. I don’t think I executed the concept well myself – I had to take far more trips to the post office than would’ve been necessary, had I planned things out first – but it was a cool concept regardless.”

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Publication: The Washington Times

Publication date: 13/06/11