What’s In The Bag? (99)

I re-visited something that I wrote back on November 19th, 2002, I wasn’t looking for it, I just stumbled across it, and, with some additions and amendments, here it is for the 99th Album that has been found in a bag, beginning with a quite appropriate intro based on the previous ‘Uncut Top 200 Albums Ever‘ post:

November 19th, 2002

I am utterly incapable of compiling a list of what I believe to be the best albums of all time. The results would fluctuate wildly depending on so many factors over which I have no control that it would be pointless. Instead of doing that I would rather just point at something and say, “Yes, that is a great album and this is why…..”

So I will. Every now and again, when the urge takes me I’m going to point, nobody has to look in the direction I’m pointing if they don’t want to. So without further ado, I am now going to do my first bit of stiff index fingeredness by saying, this is a GREAT album:

58925The Cocteau Twins – Heaven or Las Vegas

I waited for what seemed like forever for this album to be released. Blue Bell Knoll was being worn out by the needle on my record player and then suddenly there was a single called Iceblink Luck and it received radio play, which was a rare thing for the Cocteau Twins, then it actually entered the singles charts. After years of people saying, “So what music are you into?” I received something other than ‘Never heard of them.” When I said the Cocteau Twins. The only thing I can think of that made this particular song more accessible than their previous single releases was firstly that there were some intelligible words in there but also the success of artists such as Clannad and Enya. They were poles apart as artists but there was a vibe about them all that somehow resulted in them falling into the same rather loose category.

Heaven or Las Vegas seemed to take the Cocteau twins ‘Goth’ background and stand it on its head. Here were songs that you could mumble along to: amazing melodies that couldn’t possibly exists on any other record. Frasier’s voice had reached a new maturity and her outlook had changed with the birth of her first child. Robin Guthrie’s ‘cathedral of sound’ guitar still felt like an ocean swirling around in the inner ear but it was more focused than it had ever been. It was as though everything they had been working on for the previous ten years came together in one defining moment that lasted for 37 minutes and felt like the journey of a lifetime.

The sheer beauty of this record can only be experienced by listening to it and if you have not done so then I urge you to get it, play it and love it. It is an absolute joy.

Two tracks that didn’t make it to the album but are just as good appear on the single iceblink luck and are Watchlar’ and Mizake the Mizan.

A couple of my responses to Comments by my on this 2002 Post:

  1. I have a great deal of difficulty putting forward any particular Cocteau Twins album as being their best. The reason being that the first things of theirs I heard were the E.P’s Spangle Maker, Peppermint Pig and the like, and they were on the John Peel show as well with the songs from Garlands such as Wax and Wane, Blood Bitch and Blind Dumb Deaf. I followed them through Head over Heels, Treasure etc. right up to the end. At the time, each album was significant in its own way and I’d tear myself apart trying to say which is best. For somebody who hadn’t heard them before I would suggest Heaven Or Las Vegas or Milk and Kisses initially as they are certainly two of the most accessible albums.
  2. I was delighted to pick up the 10 cd box set of the Eps a little while back, even though it cost me an arm and a leg. I remember seeing it for sale when it was released but I thought, “What do I need that for, I have them all on vinyl already?” , I also remember deciding not to buy the Frosty The Snowman single as well, I saw it in the record shop and thought, “No, that’s silly”. Now they sell for a fortune on Ebay! Ah well, nevermind.


January 4th, 2016

Well, I still agree with all that, and the album does make number 144 in the Uncut 200 Albums list, and it certainly should be in there. My vinyl copy still plays nicely, although I sold the Iceblink Luck 12″ and a few others, and the 10 CD box set has gone to a new home.

I do wish that Elizabeth Fraser had done more after the demise of the Cocteau Twins. There are odd bits here and there but nothing very solid, a track on a film soundtrack, a single (Moses) which was disappointing, the best of output has undoubtedly been with Massive Attack on Mezzanine.

There’s more about The Cocteau’s HERE where I was looking at Blue Bell Knoll.