Lloyd’s better than Rattlesnakes album

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When it was released in 1991, Lloyd Cole’s second solo album, Don’t Get Weird On Me, Babe, was considered pompous and self-indulgent. In retrospect, it’s actually his finest work. As great as Rattlesnakes was, Don’t Get Weird…. is even better.

The album is divided into two distinct halves – the first a set of dark orchestral ballads arranged by Paul Buckmaster – and the second a collection of jangly guitar pop songs in Cole’s instantly recognisable style.

Recorded with power-pop master Matthew Sweet (bass), Fred Maher (drums), Robert Quine (ex Voidoids and Lou Reed guitarist) and former Commotion Blair Cowan (Hammond organ), the second half of the album is brilliant – especially the AOR rock of She’s A Girl and I’m A Man and the country-tinged Weeping Wine – but it’s the first side that is truly special. Buckmaster’s arrangements are a joy to listen to, with velvety strings, Bacharach horns and, on the exquisite Margo’s Waltz, jazzy vibes and sultry female backing vocals. Man Enough oozes French Riviera cool and Half of Everything is fantastic – a bitter melodrama with striking cinematic orchestration, mean organ and bluesy licks.

It’s no coincidence that one of the other best guitar pop albums of this era, Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend, also featured many of the same musicians who played on Don’t Get Weird… (Maher, Quine and Cole, in addition to Television’s Richard Lloyd). They just don’t make records like this anymore, babe.

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