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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Subwayz Selectionz 2015 Cocteau Twins

 Cocteau Twins: Head Over Heels (4AD 1983)

  1. When Mama Was Moth
  2. Five Ten Fiftyfold
  3. Sugar Hiccup
  4. In Our Angelhood
  5. Glass Candle Grenades
  6. In The Gold Dust Rush
  7. The Tinderbox (Of A Heart)
  8. Multifoiled
  9. My Love Paramore
  10. Musette And Drums

One of the more exciting experiences of my life during the 1980's was in discovering new bands, and different genres of music. A lot of my nocturnal time was spent listening to BBC Radio 1, and in particular John Peel, whose radio show championed undiscovered artists, and gave them the airtime to showcase their music to a national audience. John Peel's show was like a voyage of sonic discovery for me. On one show it could be bands like The Fall, or Half Man Half Biscuit followed by hip hop or reggae. I never knew what music would be played, but I knew it would be diverse, interesting and all wrapped up in John Peel's down to earth presentation. Thirty-five years later, and John Peel's legacy lives on. A few of the artists who got the golden opportunity to share their music have gone on to define their era. Alternatively, there are the other bands who made it onto John Peel's show, who disappeared back into relative obscurity after their 15 odd minutes of fame. One of the bands who made it into the world of  '
The Peel Session' were the Cocteau Twins. They appeared quite a few times in session during the early 80's.

Cocteau Twins initially comprised of Robin Guthrie, Will Heggie and Elizabeth Fraser
 who came from Grangemouth, Scotland. The name 'Cocteau Twins' came from an early song by a fellow Scottish band called Johnny And The Self Abusers, who later became Simple Minds. My discovery of the Cocteau Twins was a convergence of two influences. The eclectic brilliance of John Peel in unearthing talent, and the allure of a new TV station called Channel 4, with a new live music show called The Tube. It was an amazing experience for me to watch the Cocteau Twins perform two songs, From The Flagstones, and Musette And Drums. I've always been fascinated by the connection of a tribal fashion identity that has surrounded fans of musical genres for many years. At that time I had never really attached myself to one particular genre of music. After watching the Cocteau Twins on The Tube, I thought they were a goth band, may be in the same vein as The Cure or Siouxsee And The Banshees. However, I later came to realise that Robin Guthrie and Elizabeth Fraser would define their own genre of music.

Cocteau Twins Performing Live on The Channel 4 TV Show The Tube in 1983

Of all the albums I have listened to during the 80's, Head Over Heels by Cocteau Twins has remained with me. During that time I was a fan of electronic music, so it's rather the exception to the rule that the Cocteau Twins appealed to me. I first got Head Over Heels and Sunburst And Snowblind, which was a combined album and EP, first released in 1983. Since then I've added a few more albums by Cocteau Twins to my collection, however Head Over Heels has remained a favourite album of mine.

Head Over Heels is a rare album that I can listen through from the first track to the last without the need to skip through tracks. I think that my appeal to this album is multifaceted. There's a diversity in songs that are featured throughout this album. Within Head Over Heels is a blend of Robin Guthrie's grating guitars, which is heightened by jarring basslines that accentuate and create a ominous atmosphere. Yet out of the moodiness Head Over Heels is given life and elevated by Elizabeth Fraser's uniquely ethereal vocalizations, which compliment and give the compositions an extra dimension of light. There's the foreboding of When Mama Was Moth, and the dark impending bass driven behemoth that is Five Ten Fiftyfold. The resplendent bliss of Sugar Hiccup, and the jarring guitars of In Our Angelhood. The frenetically delirious Glass Candle Grenades, contrasted with the acoustic guitar shimmering swirls of In The Gold Dust Rush. The brooding disquiet of Your Tinderbox (Of a Heart) counterpointed with the downtempo resonance of Multifoiled. The enigmatic My Love Paramore, and the power chorded duet of Musette And Drums.

My Videos
Cocteau Twins: Head Over Heels 

It's funny to read that Head Over Heels was ranked at no. 7 in the magazine Sounds end of the year list in 1983. Alternatively it was also later named as being one of the most eccentric albums of all time by Mojo Magazine in 2003. I like the fact that Head Over Heels is considered eccentric, because it's that eccentricity that makes Head Over Heels unique. Robin Guthrie and Elizabeth Fraser created something special. They had the strength of mind and fortitude to produce an album which would be a statement of intent for future Cocteau Twins albums to come.

Since 1983 I've bought Head Over Heels on vinyl and CD. In 2003 Head Over Heels was remastered by Robin Guthrie. So I downloaded the MP3 edition. In July of 2014 I downloaded a FLAC version of Head Over Heels. If I'm honest I found that the audio quality was good, however I wouldn't recommend any Cocteau Twins fan to especially download a FLAC file because in my opinion there's not that greater difference between the MP3 and FLAC formats.

The Cocteau Twins sadly split up in 1997. However they have left a formidable body of work in their wake, and there is a solid fan base that will ensure that the Cocteau Twins' legacy will continue to flourish. Head Over Heels has stayed close to me for well over thirty years now and will always remain a firm favourite of mine. Whether it being Robin Guthrie in an oversized jumper and big hair, nonchalantly playing his guitar with a reel to reel drum machine in the background. Or the demure Elizabeth Fraser singing songs with the tone of an angelic throng. I will always have fond memories of watching The Tube, and listening to John Peel's Radio 1 show whilst having my imagination caught by the extraordinary Cocteau Twins.

My Various Other Cocteau Twins Videos

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