[My Gang] This Mortal Coil – Another Day : Reco of the Week 27 Jan 09


Gen 27 2009, 23:56

Track: Another Day
Artist: Elizabeth Fraser for This Mortal Coil
Album: It'll End in Tears, 4AD (1984)
Tags: , , , , , ,
Video: Click the pic...


When I was at school, I got in the habit of borrowing cassette tapes from the library for 10p a week. I pretty much started at one end and worked my way across the shelves, nabbing new releases as they came in. This is how I heard what I consider to be a modern essential - This Mortal Coil - It'll End in Tears.

It was the cover that caught my attention first. Have a look:

What kind of music is all misty mysterious, punky and a bit old-fashioned at the same time?

I can't remember my first listen but I can the next day. Maybe that was the first listen. It was a Sunday evening, already dark out, the lamps were on and the curtains drawn in our upstairs bedroom. My younger sister was in bed with a book, which was all she ever did at the time, and I was ironing my clothes in preparation for the week. I told her she had to listen to this and put the tape in. Bearing in mind it was a big deal for my sister to be parted from her books, I noticed her attention slowly shift away from the pages to the music. It couldn't have been a better setting.

I had already heard Song to the Siren on Annie Nightingale's Radio One show, another one of those stopped-in-my-tracks-to-listen moments. The rest was new to me.

This was roughly around the time of the release, 1984. The memory and the album have stayed with me all this time. It was years before I heard the subsequent two albums in the series, Filigree & Shadow and Blood, and by then, I was either travelling or at university, ie skint. By the time I did have the money to buy them, they weren't available in record shops any more. I had to wait till somebody invented eBay and I had a home computer and broadband before I could get hold of them. Happily, they haven't been remastered.

I think I am not alone in my passion for this series of albums, this special mix of dark and light, goth and classical, rock, avant-garde and ambient. I think the people who have found them love them dearly. Or that's my impression.

The video I have chosen is a trippy amateur homemade one using very basic special effects but whoever made it knew what they were doing. It's got the misty mysteriousness, clouds, otherworldly flora and is in perfect time with the music.

I can't listen to Song to the Siren now, in the same way I can't listen to Ghosts by Japan. Sign of a true fan, is that. Another Day is also sung by Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins and is, in my opinion, a finer, more delicate song that sounds as good after decades of regular listening as on that first weekend.

The original was by Roy Harper, a British folk singer, and appears on his album Flat Baroque and Berserk (1970), reissued in Aug 2008. You can hear it at YouTube here.

From Wikipedia: Background - This Mortal Coil:

The gothic dream pop collective This Mortal Coil was one of the most representative bands on the 4AD label, not least because they were run by 4AD president and co-founder Ivo Watts-Russell. Whether they played covers (of Watts-Russell's favorite artists) or originals, their material epitomized the haunting, ethereal sound that came to be associated with the label. Lush, swirling arrangements drenched in echo, reverb, and other effects were the project's stock-in-trade, often approaching ambient music. A rotating cast of vocalists and musicians supplied the sounds heard on record, all overseen by Watts-Russell and co-producer John Fryer.

A studio entity only, the group started out as something of a 4AD all-star unit, but evolved into a way for Watts-Russell to collaborate with up-and-comers and other artists not signed to his label. Whoever was performing, the music was united by its gentle surges of melancholy and by Watts-Russell's highly influential aesthetic.

From Amazon, user review:

Cut to 1990. Some friends and I go to watch Ride play in Oxford. What was that intro music? Cut to a record shop in which I've just started working. A guy from The Grooveyard (of 'Czechoslavakian Moomin' non-fame) puts on a cd of This Mortal Coil's 'It'll end in Tears'. I am blown away- and pleased to find out the Ride intro music was Fyt. Cut to getting an advance on my meagre wages. Cut to getting home. To turning my stereo on. To pressing play. To listening to heaven.

This is an album that I always come back to; personally I thought the follow-up albums were too long. There were some great moments: Late Night, Morning Glory, The Jeweller, The Lacemaker, You & Your Sister- but nothing as great as the whole here...The album begins on Kangaroo, from Big Star's heartbreaking Third / Sister Lovers. Was there ever a perfect line as "I first saw you/it was at a party"?. Martin McGarrick (Siouxsie and the Banshees; Therapy?; Marc and the Mambas) and Simon Raymonde (Cocteau Twins; the producer of Billy Mackenzie's Beyond The Sun -as mindblowing an album as this) create a wonderful ambience for Gordon Sharp's vocal. It's not as good as the Big Star version...Song to the Siren is the famous one - used in adverts, (almost) used by David Lynch in 'Blue Velvet' (he couldn't afford it). Eventually used in 'Lost Highway' (though not on the soundtrack album) in one of its best scenes: whiteout headlights and a naked Patricia Arquette telling Bill Pullman he will never have her. Liz Fraser's vocal is as gorgeous as anything else she's done- Teardrop, Suckling the Mender, Aikea Guinea.It's written by Tim Buckley, from the wonderful Starsailor album- any chance of a reissue,Warners?..Howard Devoto, post-Magazine, sings a wonderful version of Third / Sister Lovers, Holocaust. Perfect...Fyt is a building ambient glory, fit to rank next to anything by Brian Eno, Steve Reich et al...Fond Affections is minimal-ballad, again sung by Gordon Sharp and leading to the Cocteau-barrage of Guthrie & Raymonde on instrumental The Last Ray. This builds to the return of Liz Fraser on Roy Harper's Another Day- I prefer this to Song to the Siren. Dead Can Dance vocalist Lisa Gerrard fuses with Ivo & Fryer for Waves Become Wings -as good as anything on The Serpent's Egg. Simon Raymonde joins her for Barramundi; while DCD partner Brendan Perry aids her on Dreams Made Flesh. This songs will move you towards A Passage in Time or the recent DCD box set...Not Me is from Colin Newman's post-Wire#1 (Pink Flag-154)album, A - Z- which also features the wonderful Alone, that is heard in 'Silence of the Lambs' and TMC perform on Filigree & Shadow. This is as close to rocking out as TMC get; Robbie Grey's vocals are VERY Colin Newman. A Single Wish is an original composition and brings a wonderful album to a conclusion. Add the awesome 23 Envelope cover and you have an album you cannot live without.

This is the direction- rather than formless 'chill out' music (a very 1991 concept). As with the first Portishead album, Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance- it's basically joss-sticks & shagging music. Oh, you're going to buy it now?

Official Site: This Mortal Coil - Lyrics and Photos

Another Day

(Roy Harper)

The kettle's on, the sun has gone, another day
She offers me, Tibetan tea, on a flower tray
She's at the door, she wants to score, she didn't means to say:
"I loved you a long time ago
Where the winds of forget-me-nots blow
But I just couldn't let myself go
Not knowing what on earth there is to know
How I wish that I had, 'cause I feel so sad
That I never had one of your children."
From across the room, inside a tomb, a chance is waxed and waned
The night is young, why are we so hung up in each other's chains?
I must take her, and I must make her, while the dove domains
And feel the juice run as she flies
Run my wings under her sighs
As the flames of eternity rise
To lick us with the first born lash of dawn
Oh really my dear, I can't see what we fear
Standing here with ourselves in between us
And at the door, we can't say more, than just another day
And without a sound, I turn around, and I walk away

Wikipedia: It'll End In Tears:

It'll End in Tears was an album released in 1984 by 4AD using the name This Mortal Coil as an umbrella title for a loose grouping of guest musicians and vocalists brought together by label boss Ivo Watts-Russell. The album features many of the artists on the 4AD roster at the time of issue, including Dead Can Dance, as well as key post-punk figure Howard Devoto, who sang "Holocaust", one of two covers of songs from the "Sister/Lovers" album by Big Star to appear on the album. Two key songs were performed by Elizabeth Fraser of Cocteau Twins, including "Song to the Siren" by Tim Buckley; this was released as a single. Fraser also performed "Another Day" by Roy Harper, a track which has also been covered by Peter Gabriel as a duet with Kate Bush. 4AD would go on to release two further albums under the This Mortal Coil name: Filigree & Shadow (1986) and Blood (1991).

Track Listing:

1. Kangaroo (Alex Chilton) – 3:30
2. Song to the Siren (Larry Beckett, Tim Buckley) – 3:30
3. Holocaust (Chilton) – 3:38
4. Fyt (Ivo Watts-Russell, John Fryer) – 4:23
5. Fond Affections (Rema-Rema) – 3:50
6. The Last Ray (Watts-Russell, Robin Guthrie, Simon Raymonde) – 4:08
7. Another Day (Roy Harper) – 2:54
8. Waves Become Wings (Lisa Gerrard) – 4:25
9. Barramundi (Raymonde) – 3:56
10. Dreams Made Flesh (Gerrard) – 3:48
11. Not Me (Colin Newman) – 3:44
12. A Single Wish (Gordon Sharp, Steven Young, Raymonde) – 2:26

YouTube: Filmed in 1979, Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel - Another Day. (brought a tear to my eye)

Official Site: 4AD - This Mortal Coil

I have taken over leadership of the Last.fm group for This Mortal Coil and have added all the relevant artists to group connections. If anyone is missing, please do let me know.

Babs My Gang

Reco of the Week archives

Admin - Stats as of today:

Last.fm listeners of this track - 8,268
No. of plays scrobbled in Last.fm - 40,415
Position in Last 7 Days: 2 / 224
Position in Last 6 Months: 3 / 2,478

Main Video
Date Added: July 18, 2008
Views: 2,950, Ratings: 20, Responses: 0, Comments: 15, Favourited: 53 times

Roy Harper Video
Date Added: September 15, 2007
Views: 27,955, Ratings: 51, Responses: 0, Comments: 38, Favourited: 127 times

Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush Video
Date Added: May 02, 2007
Views: 25,471, Ratings: n/a, Responses: 0, Comments: n/a, Favourited: 299 times

Stats after 7 days:

Last.fm listeners of this track - 8,327
No. of plays scrobbled in Last.fm - 40,671
Position in Last 7 Days: 3 / 198
Position in Last 6 Months: 3 / 2,515

Main Video
Date Added: July 18, 2008
Views: 3,117, Ratings: 20, Responses: 0, Comments: 15, Favourited: 53 times

Roy Harper Video
Date Added: September 15, 2007
Views: 28,578, Ratings: 54, Responses: 0, Comments: 39, Favourited: 129 times

Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush Video
Date Added: May 02, 2007
Views: 25,813, Ratings: n/a, Responses: 0, Comments: n/a, Favourited: 303 times

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  • Furretsu

    Oh, I'm soooo all over this. I'll grab an album by the end of the day. I promise.

    Gen 28 2009, 21:48
  • Babs_05

    They're all in Spotify, if you've got that?

    Gen 28 2009, 21:52
  • Afront

    Hey Babs_05, I liked your This Mortal Coil journal.Think I had a similar experience. It'll end in tears for sure, but s'ok as long as the music don't stop. Cheers - ad astra!

    Feb 5 2009, 23:16
  • Babs_05

    Thanks for the comment, Afront. Glad you enjoyed reading. Hopefully, the music will never stop!

    Feb 5 2009, 23:23
  • larrybob

    Check out Roy Harper's original version of "Another Day", and also the video of the Kate Bush / Peter Gabriel version.

    Feb 11 2009, 17:40
  • Babs_05

    Yep, both in the journal. :)

    Feb 11 2009, 17:42
  • dandyboy73

    Great journal. For me it was hearing You And Your Sister from Blood on the radio when that came out that stopped me in my tracks. I still love that album to this day!

    Feb 18 2009, 3:21
  • Babs_05

    Thanks for the comment, dandyboy73. Yes, that's a lovely track. Another firm favourite.

    Feb 18 2009, 13:45
  • Otherness

    I'm a bit late here -- just wanted to say that "Filigree & Shadow" changed my life and God knows what kind of rubbish I'd listen to now if my English teacher hadn't recommended it to me. That's part of why Ivo Watts-Russell is my hero, too :).

    Mar 2 2009, 0:17
  • Babs_05

    I know exactly what you mean. I was like that about the Cocteau Twins and Japan. Couldn't go back to 'normal' music really, after that. Thanks very much for the comment. :)

    Mar 2 2009, 1:39
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