Thursday, July 08, 2010

Heaven or Las Vegas (1990)

"Cherry-Coloured Funk" I remember when this came out that the line everyone seemed to take on the Cocteau Twins was that Elizabeth Fraser wasn't really singing words, just making lovely noises. Guess what? Yeah well, but anyway, they're definitely hard to make out, even when you're trying to track along right word for word. I also found out that this was the bestselling single album of their career, which spanned 1979-1997, and that it was their last for 4AD. All I knew at the time was that it was gorgeous and enchanting if alarmingly vaporous, difficult to recall to mind well when I was apart from it. In fact, I had a habit for several weeks of putting it on daily with the intention of getting to the bottom of this once and for all. Then that chopping, plodding attack to "Cherry-Coloured Funk" would start and about 30 seconds in Fraser would swoop to the lovely note and join herself in lilting counterparts and my concentration scattered, distracted or buoyed or both by the ineffable. It's hard to say that this is exactly comprehending music, or whether it's rather more something like finding a suitable background soundtrack to ignore. But now when I hear it again I know perfectly well, like muscle memory, what dodges and feints each song will take in the seconds before it does so and all the hooks and notes and various tricks. And it's indelibly connected with the feelings and experiences of the time when I was listening to it so slavishly, a mostly unremarkable period yet with its triumphs and disappointments and unique whatsits, the like of which I shall never again, etc. I always thought of this as the one from their well-stocked catalog that I just happened to land on, all of the rest of it equally distinguished based on what I heard, which just might be to say equally undistinguished, except by the force of what's brought to bear.


  1. I associate this album more with the concert tour that accompanied it. I had the album of course, at the time, in 1991 living in Minneapolis I had my life shattered irreparably by a girl who dumped me. I scraped together what sanity I had left and continued to attend concerts, art shows, movies, etc. Alone every time. I felt strangely at odds with life and disconnected with it... like it didn't mean anything anymore. The concert was beautiful. I remember spotlights on motorized gambols that would wave around and radiate in sync with Elizabeth Frazer's voice and the (three) guitarists. A girl sat next to me during the concert who lived around the corner and was killing an evening. I exchanged a few words, she immediately spouted off about her boyfriend in Montana. She didn't have to worry about me coming on to her... I was beyond feeling anything beside emptiness and remorse. When the concert finished and the lights went up she leaped up out of her seat and ran away from me(!).
    Anyway, the girl who dumped me lived in Boston. It was when I was making arrangements to be with her that she put a stop to it... months of planning wasted. I instead moved to San Francisco 'cause I figured I could hide the fact I was such a loser from everyone for a while. It worked, until about three years ago when my ex-wife divorced me.
    Anyway, to sum it up I remember this album as one of those things that was there for me when everyone else was not.

  2. I saw the Cocteaus on that tour too -- I recall that Galaxie 500 opened for them and all around it was a good show. Good luck with everything and thanks for stopping by.