Vinyl love: Lush “Split”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Lush
Album Title: Split
Year released: 1994
Year reissued: 2016
Details: red vinyl, disc three in limited Origami box set, Record Store Day 2016 release, limited to 2000

The skinny: I’m posting this, the third disc and third part of a series featuring the pieces of previous Record Store Day purchase, just as I am preparing to wade out into the madness for more this morning. In my opinion and it’s likely an unpopular one, Lush’s second album “Split” was their best. The album served as a transition piece in their too short, three studio album recording career, bridging the gap between the dream pop influence of Robin Guthrie in “Spooky” (and their early EPs collected on “Gala”) and the Britpop exuberance of their final album, “Lovelife” (which we’ll see next weekend). It’s also very possible that the slightly edgier tendencies found here could have been rooted in their touring with the who’s who of American alternative as part of the Lollapalooza festival two years earlier. All this and the top notch work by Alan Moulder add up to an excellent album. 4AD pressed this third piece of the Origami box set to brilliant red, oft the colour of frontwoman Miki Berenyi’s hair. Yup.

Standout track: “Desire lines”

Vinyl love: Lush “Spooky”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Lush
Album Title: Spooky
Year released: 1992
Year reissued: 2016
Details: grey vinyl, disc two in limited Origami box set, Record Store Day 2016 release, limited to 2000

The skinny: Last weekend, I started off this series within a series, sharing glimpses of the first piece in the Lush “Origami” box set, their 1990 compilation LP, “Gala“. The focus of this week’s instalment is the influential English shoegaze quartet’s debut album from 1992, “Spooky”. Much like a bunch of the material on last week’s album, this one was produced by Robin Guthrie, guitarist from Cocteau Twins, another highly influential band in the dream pop world, and whose touch obviously informed a lot of Lush’s early days. 4AD chose to press this particular album to grey vinyl, very much in keeping with the feel and beautiful artwork of the album. “Spooky” isn’t my favourite Lush record (though I know many for whom it is), but I really appreciate its sound and mood and it is home to the song below, my introduction to the group and number twelve on my Best tunes of 1992 list.

Standout track: “For love”

Best tunes of 1992: #7 Leonard Cohen “Closing time”

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Believe it or not, “Closing time” was the song that first turned me on to Mr. Cohen: the poet, novelist, singer, songwriter, and Canadian Icon. I loved his voice right from the start and his easy sing-speak delivery and his cool demeanour. Shortly afterwards, I connected Cohen to that awesome song that Christian Slater’s character used to open his pirate radio show in the film, “Pump up the volume” and well, a lifelong love affair was born. I didn’t know this then but “Closing time” was one of two singles released off what would be the last album he recorded before entering a Buddhist monastery, touching off a prolonged break. “The future” is now considered a classic album in his catalogue but it was a struggle to create for the man from beginning to end.

“Ah we’re drinking and we’re dancing
and the band is really happening
and the Johnny Walker wisdom running high”

Around the time that “Closing time” was making the rounds on MuchMusic, I was taking a driver’s training class with Young Drivers of Canada. I was getting my license later than many of my friends, mostly to beat the implementation of graduated licensing (yes, I’m that old), and yeah, so many of those in the class were a few years younger than I was. I remember there being a teen girl in the class who wore a Leonard Cohen concert T-shirt to class one day and we all ribbed her to no end. Leonard wasn’t a “cool” choice amongst all the alt-rock kids but a few of us in the know, came to her defence after things got carried away. No one should have to pay for being a fan of Cohen. I’m sure all those kids know that now as adults.

“All the women tear their blouses off
and the men they dance on the polka-dots
and it’s partner found, it’s partner lost
and it’s hell to pay when the fiddler stops”

It was also around that time that my older brother Andrew came back to live at home for a while. After years of living in the States, he had been indoctrinated into listening to Country music, yes, he wore cowboy boots and the whole bit. Interestingly, “Closing time” got its hooks into him, perhaps it was the fiddle, which was part of what got its hooks into me. Unfortunately, though, that meant that the cassette tape I had this on was always in the player and he would replay it to the point where I was almost sick of it. Then, he would drag me out with him to country bars to pick up women, none of whose companions I was ever remotely interested in, and then, drunkenly sing the few lines he knew of “Closing time” over and over again as we were staggering home in the early hours of the morning.

“Yeah we’re drinking and we’re dancing
but there’s nothing really happening
and the place is dead as Heaven on a Saturday night
And my very close companion
gets me fumbling gets me laughing
she’s a hundred but she’s wearing
something tight”

I only recently learned that “Closing time” is Leonard Cohen’s love poem to Toronto’s famous dive/after hours bar, The Matador, sadly now defunct (though I hear plans to resurrect it are in the works). I have only ever been to the Matador once in my life and that was on my friend Tim’s birthday, probably more than a decade ago now. We were all rather drunk already, which made a surreal experience all the more surreal. Nobody seem to know its precise address but the mere mention of the name to the cab driver got us all there without incident. Once there, we stood in line for an unknown amount of time but I distinctly remember our friend Mark saying to me, “If they ask you if you’re a cop, just say ‘no’.” There are plenty more stories that I could tell of that evening inside The Matador but I’ll leave those for another evening over beers. Let’s just say that when closing time actually rolled around, we stumbled out blinking in the morning sun and into waiting cabs bound for our beds.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1992 list, click here.