BEYOND the now continuous loop of The Wire I am involved in, few things make me more glad and happy to be a human in this depressing age than the knowledge that a new Lloyd Cole album is available.
So imagine my unbridled delight when three albums and six CDs worth of brilliance came out this month.
First up, and perhaps purely for the completists, is the box set Cleaning out the Ashtrays: Collected B-sides and Rarities 1989 – 2006, four CDs described by Cole as: “A 59 song collection of b-sides, album outtakes, alternate mixes and pretty much every studio recording from 1989 until 2006 which was intended for commercial release, but which did not end up on an album.”
These recordings span his solo contracts with Capitol and Polydor records and his later solo works with a variety of indie labels.
It also comes in a beautiful package and a chunky booklet complete with four essays from Lloyd. It is more than an equal of the wonderful Complete Recordings, the 2001 box set which is my favourite box set bar none.
Most interesting on Ashtrays is the Stephen Street mixes of the 1995 masterpiece Love Story, which, thinking about it, should be in the Top 6 albums I could never do without.
The other two albums Folk Singer: Vols 1 & 2 are the long mooted holy grail of Cole-traners, live shows which showcase Lloyd’s brilliant solo gigs (this time for Radio Bremen and at Whelan’s in Dublin).
Among the great versions of his own songs, there’s some great Tim Hardin, Kris Kristofferson and Bacharach & David covers to go with the relatively recent, brilliant re-workings of Bob Dylan (You’re a Big Girl Now) and Karen Black's Nashville (from the Soundtrack of the Robert Altman movie) on Complete Recordings.
Lloyd Cole makes the world a better place for me and he ain’t even a project slinger from the low rises.