With Love Story, his second Rykodisc album, Lloyd Cole completes his transition from fervid rocker to adult crooner. Looking back, you can see that this romantic Scot's work with his original backing band, the Commotions, and his first solo album, were of a piece; his second solo outing, the aptly titled Don't Get Weird on Me, Babe, paired a beginning suite of normal rock tracks with another of languid torch songs, complete with strings scored by Paul Buckmaster. After Bad Vibes, which I found uninteresting, he's in better, if again adult, form with Love Story. Anyone who grooved to growling old Commotions numbers might be taken aback by the tasty flamenco flavoring on "Love Ruins Everything," the Al Stewart-esque drawl in his voice on "Baby," and the MOR shadings of "Happy for You." But this is all quite an achievement for the players, the tough New York crowd--including guitarist Robert Quine and drummer-producer Fred Maher--who worked on his earlier solo albums and Matthew Sweet's as well. Listen closely and you can hear them mar the sonic fabric, most tellingly on the lovely, scarred "Be There," whose shimmery guitar and lilting vocals are set against a background of guitar noise. The touring band--Cole plays Sunday at the Park West--includes old Commotion hand Neil Clark, but not Quine.
Urge Stalkers Blow Town
The Stalkers--two local women who've dedicated their lives to dogging Urge Overkill--are leaving town. "We're moving down to Austin," says Beverly Babb, aka Miss B. "I've got to get out of here. I'm sick of it." Babb, a bike messenger, says she can't countenance another winter on wheels. Babb and Karol Cooper--Miss K--are saying good-bye with, of all things, a wedding Saturday night.
Well, perhaps there will be a wedding. "I'm marrying National Kato," says Miss B, "and Karol is marrying Blackie." The two lucky gents in question are the Urge Overkill members the women have been persecuting for more than a year; as yet, the artists haven't confirmed attendance. The wedding idea came about, Cooper says, on a night they were tormenting the band outside Delilah's, the Lincoln Avenue bar where drummer Blackie Onassis was spinning records. "We heard that someone at the bar said, 'I've never seen two women go to so much trouble to marry a rock star.' Well, we've been found out. Our motives have been revealed. If they marry us we'll stop stalking." The public is invited to what looks to be a heartbreaking situation for a couple of would-be brides. It begins at 8 PM at a loft at 2341 S. Michigan. After they settle in Austin, the pair say, stalking activities will resume.
More No Depression
Those interested in the "no depression" or Americana music I wrote about a few weeks ago have a number of opportunities for more info. The subscription address, again, for the new quarterly No Depression is PO Box 31332, Seattle 98103. The magazine's E-mail address is NoDepress@aol.com. Also, local Bloodshot Records has released two collections of what it calls "insurgent country," with tracks from the Bottle Rockets, Jon Langford's Waco Brothers, Freakwater, and many others. For a catalog or more info, call 248-8709 or write 912 W. Addison, Chicago 60613 (email@example.com). On America Online, the no depression folder can be found under the keyword music. Then, in succession, click on communications, message boards, alternative rock, alternative-rock topics, and then no depression/alternative country. There's also an Internet mailing list. To subscribe to it, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put nothing on the subject line; in the body of the message, put, "subscribe Postcard2 (your E-mail address) DIGEST (your name)."
Shannon is Gone
At the end of Blind Melon's first appearance in Chicago, lead singer Shannon Hoon picked up a microphone stand and pitched it into the audience. The move--reckless, stupid, grasping for attention--captures well his life, which ended in a tour bus in New Orleans a couple of weeks ago, presumably from the effects of his heroin addiction. Mentored by Guns N' Roses' Axl Rose, with whom he shared an Indiana hometown, Hoon made a guest appearance in the Gunners' "Don't Cry" video before going platinum on the strength of a curiously entrancing slice of plangent boogie called "No Rain." It's always the soi-disant badasses who come up with songs like that--think of Rose's "Sweet Child o' Mine." But Rose has real talent and a corrosive charisma; Hoon, as it turns out, was just a cliche, a fluke semistar whose brief illumination was immediately accompanied by drugs and almost incessant legal trouble--drunk and disorderly in New Orleans, urinating on fans at a Vancouver concert, assaulting a guard at the American Music Awards. His girlfriend once mentioned that she was carrying four bail bonds for the singer at one time. His bandmates are calling the death an "accidental overdose," putting what sad spin they can on this news. On the band's second album, Soup, the latest alternative-rock flop, Hoon sings a song called "Skinned," a manic acoustic number whose antiquated, upbeat, almost Hot Tuna-esque chorus seems to be just a cliched excuse for star excess: "This is just the shape I'm in," warbles Hoon. On closer examination the song turns out to be a gruesome tale of sadism: "I'll make a shoehorn out of your skin / A lamp shade of durable skin." It's quite an artistic legacy.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Norman Watson, Heather Devlin.