• Lowlife Lyrics

    Ott 30 2011, 7:02

    A SULLEN SKY >>>

    i've got myself all wrapped together
    the only way i know how
    not too tight and a little loose
    the only way i know how
    don't let let the sky fall in my hair
    and i wonder within
    what makes the breakers in the sky
    who tells the tide to come in

    please don't disturb this finest hour
    in its most perfect form
    don't scare the dancing clouds
    or they shall cease to perform

    there they go into the distance
    i know it won't be long now
    i'd like to catch and keep one
    if i only knew how
    if i only knew how
    if I only knew how
    if i only knew how

    SWING >>>

    We could do with going anywhere
    somewhere that we could swing
    I could do with going anytime
    as long as I could swing
    sometimes I see almost everywhere
    the prostitution of talents
    but I'm so busy trying to bury this
    everyone has been stripped
    everyone has been stripped

    now stripped and starved of stature
    but still must suckle the young
    I can not impose upon myself
    or even get a grip on my tongue
    or even get a grip on my tongue
    i don't have to hold my tongue

    we have lost and can not renew
    that which I care for and regard
    regarded as the most precious thing
    we've lost the reason to swing
    we've lost the reason to swing


    How can I have everything and still feel so alone
    Have so many pretty girls and still feel on my own
    I have everything that I need except the spice of life
    Can't you help me find my way
    In this pain and strife

    I have climbed my highest mountain
    And got stuck in this hole
    I have paid the price with my friends
    Success has took it's toll

    I have everything that I need except the spice of life
    Can't you help me find my way
    In this pain and strife

    This pain and strife
    This pain and strife
    This pain and strife

    The spice of life

    This pain and strife


    Can you still be young tomorrow
    or will you do some thinking first
    your mouth overflows
    it overflows
    and yet you're dying of thirst

    Now I catch only small pieces
    from a deaf and tattered mind
    you see no reason for concern
    so I must leave you

    Can I put the words in for you
    like when we used to converse
    you seemed much older than your face
    a vision of colourful verse

    Shall we take a look at the bright side
    can I take it you'll be there
    I can't remember all that I want to
    but you seemed younger when you were there

    Now I catch only small pieces
    of a deaf and tattered mind
    you see no reason for concern
    so I must leave you
    leave you blind


    I don't mean to ignore you
    or dislike or deplore you
    and I guess I'm still a so-called friend
    but times and people change

    and I find it kind of strange
    to hang around when the party is done

    I'll gather up my thoughts
    forget the times we fought
    and I'll see you when the sun is in your eyes
    you've never been a burden
    and I know it's kind of sudden
    and I know I've sprung a sweet surprise

    but times and people change

    and I find it kind of strange
    to hang around when the party is done

    I've really got to go now
    so I think that you should know now
    it's the burden of an unhealthy past
    so gather up my thoughts
    forget the times we fought
    I'll see you when the sun is in your eyes
    I'll see you when the sun is in your eyes


    Just between us and ourselves
    have I fallen from grace
    in want to go where all kids go
    go to my nameless place

    Where lonely birds can really fly
    like poetry in motion
    where only the highest waterfalls
    come diving into the ocean
    diving into the ocean

    I know I kneel by nearby ponds
    but never stay too long
    but never is a long long time
    again I could be wrong

    all I need is a little push
    in birth I could immerse
    into my lake of understanding
    where I drown in reverse


    I could be frequently picked and was I ever
    I could say beautiful things yet I was not so clever
    I doubt if I had ever been
    a young thing with a sad face
    I had my own natural wit
    the sad thing was that I meant it

    I took this more or less
    as my personal load
    my very own to struggle with
    down eternity road
    as far as I know I was the first and I was somehow the only
    as far as I know I won't be the last
    it's better to be lonely


    That branch that reaches out to beg
    Struck me lightly with little noise
    Called up mental images of
    When I went crashing to the floor

    A strange thing suddenly struck me
    And took the wraps from a perfect day
    That if i had seen myself lying there
    I would have left me where I lay

    Who it was or how it happened
    Would never have entered my tiny mind
    So maybe I've found or maybe I've learned
    But what I've learned is never easy to find


    I bent over backwards, broke my neck
    And I stood up quick, then I hit the deck
    I get up slow, you stop and smile
    Then I smile back and you run a mile
    So then we take a backwards step
    And then you forgive me but never forget
    You cut! You cut!!
    You cut me deep for permanent sleep

    I gave to you years of life
    Then I turn my back and you use your knife
    You gave to me your pains and tears
    They went through my head like foreign spears
    You gave to me your pains and tears
    You cut! You cut!!
    You cut me deep for permanent sleep
    I hated it..!!!!

    I bent over backwards and broke my neck
    And I stood up quick
    I get up slow, you stop and smile
    Then I smile back
    I'll say my peace then I'll be gone
    The sun of a dark love, the sun that you shun
    You cut! You cut!!
    You cut me deep!
  • Lowlife Reviews

    Nov 16 2010, 1:03

    Lowlife - "Rain"
    Nightshift Records
    Ian Gittins

    HERE is early, unfinished music, a charming swirl merely hinting at its designs. Atmospheric and half-prepared, it reminds me, strangely, of "Unknown Pleasures."
    Lowlife are a collaboration of Will Heggie, original bassist with The Cocteau Twins, and Craig Lorentson of ex-Scottish psychobillies Dead Neighbors. Lorentson's raw, hopeful vocal stakes its space, but unsurprisingly it is Heggie's nonchalant, imposing bass which shapes these gems, marking out and moulding the swelling area of the song much as Steve Severin does for The Banshees.
    As expected, strains of "Garlands" linger as Will constructs enticing, webbed patterns of sound driven by an Echo-type rock momentum rather than the poised hesitations and timeless stretching of the extraordinary Twins. This is louder, more rigid although working still by interference, Lowlife are as yet tight inside the rock format. They may simply be beginning by asserting themselves, casting spells.
    Titles hint at wonder: "Reflections Of I", "Sense Of Fondness", "Hail Ye". This album does not yet impose itself as a treasure but it is a collection of small noises, words falling inwards, a beaty, relevant, watchful music. Hardly there at the moment - hopefully it will grow. Lowlife are infant and suggestive and, with care, could nurture a rare beauty. I'm not sure where they'll go - they could move in closer to sound and structure, more aware of the moment, or outwards to worthy, sometimes inspiring but ultimately limited U2-style declamations. Both styles touch in here; but I prefer a whisper to a scream.
    I hope Lowlife do too.

    The third Cocteau Twin returns in an atmospheric band called LOWLIFE.. Ian Gittins investigates.

    EARLY morning hours in a boarded-up Bayswater hotel and Will Heggie and I consider precisely what hope a band called Lowlife might have of "doing" a coversation which is self-evidently, in the way that some things are, important.
    Will was a Cocteau Twin, leaving an arguing band where Liz and Robin's bond made him an awkward outsider. Now he's an awe-inspiring figure among less-experienced musicians, almost from another world. He harbors no acrimony about the split, although he notes a devaluing trend in today's Cocteaus towards an ethereal elevator music - a decline, maybe, into precocious doodling.
    Lowlife's own LP, "Rain", annoys Will too. He calls it "an underachievement," a mere hint of what Lowlife can do. Since its release early this year, the band has been making startling progress, swept along partly by the lyrical imput of Craig Lorentson. His words are of discovery and personal examingation, potentially bringing to Lowlife a crucial, slender significance lost in the diversion of Liz's "Fluffy Tufts" and "Persephone".
    "The whole thing comes together - music and words. What Craig sings is part of the music. We often rehearse and come up with nothing, but when we do find something it's like ...phew! Even recording with the Cocteaus, me and Rob would go in and record a song around a beat, then Liz would come in after I'd finished with an obscure lyric, absolut trash, which meant nothing to me, just because she liked the sound of the words. Now everything sounds so good and it's incredible!"
    Lowlife gave me a glimpse of two new tracks "Permanent Sleep" and "As It Happens" - and, yes, there is a delicate, shaped, noble music, not devaluing itself in some inglorious rush, cutting free from outside forces, winding inside of itself in a beautiful, patterned ebb and flow and even, at this early stage, intensely affecting. It could just be the stillest, most complete music you've heard in a long time.

    (NIGHTSHIFT RECORDS - LOLIF-2) (five stars)
    If 'Rain', the embryonic and infant LP from Lowlife, is a tender band carefully finding its feet, unsure where it is pulled for and why, 'Permanent Sleep' is an astonishing step forward - a leap from the edge into a sweeping music of atmosphere and gesture. A band which had, possibly, hesitated on the divide between declaration and investigation, leading to the inconclusive result of 'Rain', moving decisively towards a music of impulse and majesty, a textured whole.
    That Lowlife are exceptional, in both their care and application, cannot escape anyone who takes time for 'Permanent Sleep' No broad or limiting assumptions are made; every resonant, swelling note is considered and pulled out with proud exact care, drawing into gorgeous, loving noise which never loses sight of ideals. Lowlife are busy perfecting their moves;
    there have been few delights to rival these.
    'Permanent Sleep' suggests, as does all the best art, that 'anything is possible'; these tight, shaded touches of emotion and hope, pulled into an artful and imposing framework, are moving in a currency far above the daft mediocrity of most dribbled out in the name of 'pop'. There is a rare, tremorous fascination with life, a refusal to be discracted, minor miracles worked with the dear tools of voice, guitar and drum. It is impossible to hear this music and remain unaffected.
    This 'Permanent Sleep' is a music which touches on the human condition, fully and nearly, because it must. It works from a core sound which, linked with a divine but misused voice, helped the early beauty of the Cocteau Twins, before evasive words led them down a frustrate dead end. Now, coupled with a true voice of intense concern and relevance, the wonderful whole is coming together. Lowlife have been working harder than anyone could imagine, and it is because of that it is all shinily easy. They are here to be appreciated; no-one should devalue them. 'Permanent Sleep' is music of rare splendor and love, a beating and resplendent whole which is the best LP I have heard this year. By all correct and hopeful standards, it is a classic - such sensitivity and longing carried through a voice speaking in a higher register of poetry, and growing all the time. People may wonder where these beauties could ever come from... and for Lowlife, this is just the beginning.

    LOWLIFE 'Permanent Sleep'
    (Nightshift LONE 2) (four stars)
    Coming out of the clouds of the unknown are Lowlife, an illuminating quantity whose main claim to fame is that they have an ex-Cocteau Twin, Will Heggie, working on their immaculate landscapes.
    The title, 'Permanent Sleep', not only gives you an idea of the nature of this record but also underlines the way in which Lowlife construct their deep atmospheres through hypnotically mysterious songs, all dressed up in secret gestures. The album glides gracefully from beginning to end with tantalising intensity, like the lingering glow of autumn's nearing candle. Doomy, brooding bass lines close the curtains in Lowlife's room where it's often dark, claustrophobic and uninviting. Guitars blur gently together, suggesting tragedy, echoing the cries of a thousand stretched hearts. Yes, it's all quite deep and mystifying; Lowlife have a morbid preoccupation with evasive melancholia and selfpity. This sometimes causes their bowl of sensual fruits to be strangled by their own insular privacy. Still a charming album full of dreams and great pride.
    Ron Rom

    Permanent Sleep
    Nightshift lolif 2 lp
    Dave Henderson

    Scottish outfit whose flowing soundtracks are reminiscent of The Cocteau Twins at their most effective. Hardly suprising then that mainman Will Heggies was an original Twin and interesting too, to see where his vision of all things lyrically tuneful has gone.
    Through a wash of guitars and effected vocal lines, Lowlife meander like a slow and beautiful dream, slipping haphazardly into gear from time to time to hammer home that killer punch. Never overpowering, Permanent Sleep is further enhanced by some wistful and charming melodies that readily set the nerve ends on edge. Magnetic. (four stars)

    LOWLIFE: Permanent Sleep.
    Nightshift. LOLIF 2. Producers: Keith Mitchell/artists.
    Dave Henderson

    With an ex-Cocteau in tow, the mood on Lowlife's debut album is decidedly anthemic But the atmosphere here is carefully applied to the West face of rock'n'whatever with an oversized powder puff rather than a trowel. Lowlife have a magnificently lush sound. Layered and tactile, it's the equivalent of a jacuzzi in champagne. Take it neat.

    PERMANENT SLEEP (Nightshift)

    LOWLIFE, as you must know by now, is ex-Cocteau Will Heggies' band, a treasured secret and no fragile beauty. "Permanent Sleep" if their first LP and once you've heard its majesty and shared in its journey you won't want to part with it for love nor money.
    Like the Cocteaus, Lowlife practice a mystical form of musical alchemy with crystalline perfection, transcending descriptive narrative to achieve that perfect cohesion between words and music. But where the Cocteaus meander into opium dreams, Lowlife remain very much on the surface of your consciousness, more lucid, collected and proud. This music is a rougher diamond indeed but their self-awareness has not dimmed their sensitivity.
    This music is a friend and offers a disquieting sanctuary in its cascading circular rhythms and sweeping landscaped horizons. "Coward's Way" and "Mother Tongue" particularly ease the fevered mind, tracing undulating contours that refresh a sense of soul, bringing calm to chaos and perspective to unreal reality. A track-by-track analysis here would prove inadequate and would be doing Lowlife a great disservice. This is true holistic music and far greater, far more splendid than the sum of its parts, with Heggie's winding bass subcurrents and Craig Lorentson's magnetic vocals being tossed and turned in a bubbling cauldron of freestyle guitar.
    Like peering into a prism, "Permanent Sleep" reflects a spectrum of colour in elliptical patterns, thoroughly absorbing and satisfyingly complete. "The Betting And Gaming Act 1964", "Wild Swan", "A Year Past July" - strange titles for a new form of beauty. For heavens sake don't let this one fade away.

    Helen Fitzgerald

    Don't Mention the Cocteau Twins

    LOWLIFERS Will Heggie and Grant Macdowell are about to release a new EP, Vain Delights, a follow-up to their aclaimed Permanent Sleep album. Caught between the bar and the off-licence, they give us the benefit of their inspiration.

    "HOW the hell am I supposed to know who scored the first goal in the 1930 World Cup? What's that to do with English and Scottish football anyway?"
    The combination of a heavy drinking session the previous night and the devious questions on the pub trivia machine are beginning to tell on Grant Macdowall's patience. He and Will Heggie are nevertheless happily downing their pints (with rum and Jim Beam chasers) and between rounds they tell me a little about their group Lowlife, and look forward to watching Scotland thrash Luxembourg at Hampden that night.
    It seems that the world and his wife are aware that Will Heggie was the bass player in the early Cocteau Twins, and, much to the group's annoyance have stressed this fact when talking about Lowlife. This has been taken to the extent of the Cartel labelling Lowlife's records with stickers publicising the Cocteau Twins connection. It is something Will feels is very much in the past, and so the stories he has to tell of Robin and Liz and eccentric 4AD entrepreneur Ivo must remain off the record. A pity, but our only concern here is with Lowlife.
    Apart from Will and Grant, Lowlife consists of Craig Lorentson on vocals ("Craig never does interviews" says Grant mysteriously) and Stuart Everest on guitar. Formed when Will found himself at a loose end after the Cocteaus, he helped out Grant and Craig in the late unlamented Dead Neighbors, and financed the initial Lowlife work with an advance he had received from publishers Beggars Banquet.
    The first material to see the light of day was the mini-LP Rain recorded in summer 1985, but due to various pressing problems and record company hassles it didn't come out until early this year. "It sounded dated before it was even released" moans Will.
    July saw the release of the impressive LP Permanent Sleep that garnered rave reviews especially Helen Fitzgerald's tortured prose in the Melody Maker. Permanent Sleep is built around Will's bass, with Craig's portentous vocal style and Stuart's somewhat gothic guitar, combining to create something that is slightly reminiscent of the mellower side of Joy Division. It can be oppressive, but both Coward's Way and Wild Swan stand out as melodic and intelligent, while the title track is beautifully sinister. Certainly a major step forward from Rain, but perhaps a little gloomy lyrically?
    Will: "It wasn't intentional to make it sound depressing or anything. The way we work is Craig maybe will get the feel or atmosphere of the piece and write the lyrics from that. Craig went through a lot of personal sort of experiences in the last year or so, so it's probably more Craig than the rest of us."

    Grant: "It depends what mood we're in really. The stuff we're doing now is not like that at all."

    There certainly seems to be no 'tortured artist' syndrome about Lowlife's lifestyle. Living in Grangemouth seems to require constant and excessive intake of alcohol. Will and Grant are still awestruck at the memory of touring with Johnny Thunders, a drinker to whom they pale in comparison. Similarly they have bemused memories of previous interview experiences. On one occasion in Aberdeen it was obvious their interviewer had no idea who Lowlife were, and little interest in pop music. "It was like 'do you know anything about farming?' And Colin Somerville on Radio Forth; he'd be all perky and trivial and DJ-like and then he'd suddenly fire off these question out of the blue, and we'd pause for about 30 seconds and say 'er, could you repeat the question please?'."
    When it comes to live performances, Lowlife's tend to be few and far between. Recent shows at the Edinburgh Assemly rooms Rooms in the summer, and Glasgow Rooftops last month were only partial successes, and the group are still very suspicious about potential venues.
    "We've been offered all sorts of venues that have just been like pub- rock or cabaret places. We'd rather just wait till we get offered some decent venues, not too large but not little dives either."
    Lowlife are currently relying on record sales to finance their new projects. At the they are writing and recording new songs for an LP that will hopefully be out early in 1987, but more immediately they release a 12" EP at the end of November entitled Vain Delights. It deserves some attention, if only to keep the group supplied with alcohol. It features a remixed version of Permanent Sleep amongst the new material.
    As Grant and Will rush off to buy a carry out for their bus to the match they mention that they are all big fans of Preston North End. Why? "Because they're the worst team in Britain." Maybe, but I've a sneaking suspicion they'd have put more than three past Luxembourg...

    Thomas Lappin

    Low and Behold!

    DID Will Heggie jump or was he pushed? The ex-Cocteau Twin who headed back North of the border a good two years back left the Twins to make it in termsof CD-new-age-coffee-table style. A lesser man would have given up the ghost... but not Will.
    With a couple of pals from The Dead Neighbors in tow (plus a mutual friend), a new project was set in motion. Lowlife were born, manager Brian Guthrie set up the Nightshift label for the group and with the help of Fast Forward and the Cartel, the group's first mini-album surfaced in January that year.
    Some time later, after the cold cold summer, an album proper, Permanent Sleep, grabbed reviews a-plenty and at the tail end of 86, the group released their most commercial package to date, a 12-inch entitled Vain Delights.
    "I suppose it was an attempt to get some kind of airplay," admits Will rather reluctantly, "and that's not really the way we like to go about doing things."
    However, this disc is a palatable affair and although i can't see Bruno Brooks (thank God) getting his head around it, it should satisfy a few late nighters. It seems the Lowlife yearning for more cohesive chart action and bigger bucks could soon be fulfilled and the false starts that dogged their earlier days will just be a good laugh on a grey day.
    "Yeah, we've made a few mistakes along the way, things haven't always run smoothly, but things seem to be going right now. We did a tour with Johnny Thunders... that was an absolut disaster. All the places were full of Goths who didn't understand what we were about at all." Well, I mean, how low can you get?

    Terry Wall

    LOWLIFE 'Hollow Gut' (Nightshift)
    Profound melancholic and reaches the parts ephemeral pieces of plastic cannot reach. Indolent point of reference would include (dare i say it?) Joy Division/New Order with a sprinkling of Chameleons-style intensity. Cavernous vocals, meshing guitars and atmosphere by the grooveful. Who needs a middle eight when the sum total is this evocative (man)?
    lesley o'toole

    LOWLIFE 'Vain Delights EP' (Nightshift)
    A R KANE 'When You're Sad' (One Little Indian)The two best British independent singles of the week.
    A R KANE have a bass grumble which sound exactly like an expensive sports car coughing its outsize engine to a sticky end. They have captured the growl, stroked it and tuned it into a delightfully affronting purr. The drumbeat has been whipped from Lydon and Bambaataa's 'World Destruction', put on a crash diet and slipped in as a stark but stern frontbeat. While the vocals are chased at random by scratching, whistles and that Pather black bass prowl.
    Another example of pop bands seeing past their blue guitars and chocolate catalogues and mixing pop nooise with the B-Boy culture. Lowlife's 'Vain Delight' sits on a deep vocal cushion, alongside a confident bass investigation, and pacey drum and guitar races. A definite nod of the cropped head is due to Peter Hook and Joy Division, in the same way that A R Kane owe a lot to the groundbreaking that The Jesus And Mary Chain have spent the last two years undertaking. Both bands have been snogging with other group's styles but neither have come away with copyist cold sores or plagarist's lisp.
    Promising stuff indeed.

    James 'Scrooge' Brown
  • Lowlife - Album Reviews

    Ott 10 2010, 11:58

    Eternity Road compiles 19 stand-out tracks from all six studio albums (Rain in 1985 to Gush in 1995) compiled by the band themselves, as well as non-album singles such as Hollow Gut and Eternity Road. Several tracks are exclusive to this compilation, including Ramafied (a covermount version issued with Underground magazine) and the 7" edit of Eternity Road. The booklet includes images and a detailed band history by journalist and manager Brian Guthrie. 19 tracks, 75 minutes of music. Full tracklist: Sometime Something, Again and Again, Coward's Way, Permanent Sleep, The Betting and Gaming Act 1964, Hollow Gut, Ragged Rise to Tumbledown, From Side to Side, Eternity Road (7" version), Swing, Ramafied (Underground Version), Where I Lay I'll Lie, I Don't Talk To Me, I The Cheated, My Mother's Fatherly Father, Suddenly Violently Random, Give Up Giving Up, Truth in Needles, Swell.

    Reviews: "High quality re-release from avant-shoegazers. Eternity Road is an impressive, passionate collection, Bauhaus-bleak yet complex as jazz. Makes Radiohead sound like Nizlopi" (Uncut, 05/2006); "Profound, melancholic, and reaches the parts more ephemeral pieces of plastic cannot reach" (Melody Maker); "A good introduction - but not all you'll ever need - to a band deserving of care and attention" (NME); "Atmospheric and claustrophobic, music to sharpen razor blades to" (M8); "A gorgeous full swell of sound" (Melody Maker); "Eternity Road collates singles and other highlights from an eventful six-album career making a solid case for their own chapter in the dreampop story. Recommended for fans of slow, eerily atmospheric songs and dense production" (Leonard's Lair, 03/2006); "Culty dream-pop rightfully remastered and reissued" (The List, 03/2006); "Absolutely beautiful cult band - dreamy, melancholic wave songs, and a must for all fans of 1980s guitar bands like The Sound and The Chameleons" (, 04/2006)

    Remastered CD combines the debut mini album Rain from 1985 with Permanent Sleep, the first full Lowlife album released the following year. Booklet includes images and detailed liner notes. 15 tracks, 63 minutes of music. Both titles have never before been released on CD. Full tracklist: Coward's Way, As It Happens, Mother Tongue, Wild Swan, Permanent Sleep, A Year Past July, The Betting and Gaming Act 1964, Do We Party?, Sometime Something, Reflections of I, Gallery of Shame, Sense of Fondness, Hail Ye, Again and Again, From Side to Side (original version).

    Reviews: "Heggie's nonchalant, imposing bass shapes these gems, constructing enticing, webbed patterns of sound driven by an Echo-type rock momentum" (Melody Maker, 02/1986); "Once you've heard its majesty and shared in its journey you won't want to part with it for love nor money" (Melody Maker, 08/1986); "Lowlife construct their deep atmospheres through hynotically mysterious songs, an the album glides gracefully from beginning to end with tantalising intensity" (Sounds, 07/1986); "Through a wash of guitars and effected vocal lines, Lowlife meander like a slow and beautiful dream, slipping into gear to hammer home that killer punch. Never overpowering, Permanent Sleep is further enhanced by some wistful and charming melodies that readily set the nerve ends on edge. Magnetic." (Q Magazine, 08/1986); "A magnificent and lush sound, layered and tactile" (Music Week, 08/1986); "Perfects a dark majesty all of their own making" (Leonard's Lair, 03/2006)

    Remastered CD combines the second studio album Diminuendo from 1987 with all four tracks from the 1987 ep Swirl It Swings. Booklet includes images and detailed liner notes. 16 tracks, 59 minutes of music. This is the first time that Diminuendo has been released on CD. Full tracklist: A Sullen Sky, Big Uncle Ugliness, Ragged Rise to Tumbledown, From Side to Side, Off Pale Yellow, Tongue Tied and Twisted, Licking One's Wounds, Wonders Will Never Cease, Given to Dreaming, Hollow Gut, Permanent Sleep (Steel Mix), Ramafied, Swing, Colours Blue, Eternity Road (12" version).

    Reviews: "Hyperbole and superlative are safe and easy harbours for critics, yet Lowlife assemble the journeyman's tools of guitar, bass, drums and voice and touch the skies" (Melody Maker, 1987); "Characteristic grim beauty" (M8, 1987); "Evocative and dramatic but never overbearing. Lowlife's sound, drenched in reverb and clean upfront guitars, runs an interesting sweep across a good clutch of favourable influences - the Bunnymen, Comsat Angels, New Order" (Q Magazine, 1987); "A landmark album, bursting with feeling and dripping with emotion" (Music Week, 1987); "A 4AD record in all but name, but played exactly right: the opaque song structures, the aura of wonder, that pulsating bass sound, those outlandish song titles (Underground magazine, 1987); "Diminuendo captures Lowlife at their peak, dismissing the inevitable Cocteau Twins and gothic rock comparisons and crafting an album of real distinction. With the inclusion of some of their best singles, and the strong Swirl It Swings ep, 1987 was definitely the year when Lowlife really should have reached beyond their cult following" (Leonard's Lair, 04/2006)

    The third studio album from Lowlife was originally released in 1990, and saw Lorentson, Heggie and McDowall joined by short-stay guitarist Hamish McIntosh, who also recorded as Fuel. The five bonus tracks comprise the first half of the impossibly rare promo-only Black Album of demos recorded in 1988. Booklet contains detailed band history and images. 16 digitally remastered tracks, 57 minutes of music. Full tracklist: In Thankful Hands, Where I Lay I'll Lie, Marjory's Dream, I Don't Talk to Me, Drowning Leaves, Bittersweet, River of Woe, I the Cheated, Missing the Kick, Forever Filthy, Everending Shroud, The Beggar's Burning Bush ((demo), Moved to Tears (demo), Acrid Tongue (demo), River of Woe (demo), Where I Lay I'll Lie (demo).

    Reviews: "Still contains its fair share of gothic melodrama, while indicating a willingness to lighten their material a little to make it more accessible. What really adds value is the inclusion from five tracks from the rare Black Sessions promo, where the stripped down demos are a perfect setting for Craig Lorentsen's resonant and fragile voice" (Leonard's Lair, 09/06); "A paradigm of the sombre British new wave sound, and years ahead of Interpol or Editors" (PopNews, 02/07); "Godhead continues their legacy of ephemeral, elusive and aching swirlpop. Lowlife are masters of melancholy" (Melody Maker, 1991); "Godhead deserves serious attention" (Music Week, 1990); "Scrambles higher than the sum of its influences, and if not exactly the head of God this is about halfway up his midriff. Buy it" (Melody Maker, 1990)

    Fourth album from 1991, produced by Calum Maclean. Here core members Lorentson and Heggie are joined by guitarist Hugh Duggie and drummer Martin Fleming. The five bonus tracks comprise the second half of the impossibly rare promo-only Black Album of demos recorded in 1988. Booklet contains detailed band history and images. 15 digitally remastered tracjs, 60 minutes of music. Full tracklist: Jaw, Inside In, My Mother's Fatherly Father, Big Fat Funky Whale, Good as it Gets, Suddenly Violently Random, June Wilson, Give Up Giving Up, Bathe, As Old As New, Missing the Kick (demo), Bittersweet (demo), Forever Filty (demo), Neverending Shroud (demo), We the Cheated (demo).

    Reviews: "Lowlife's fourth album also turns out to be their most upbeat, although the main highlights can be discovered on the Black Sessions offerings, which match the highs of Diminuendo" (Leonard's Lair, 10/06); "Among their best albums, blessed with an expansive production, and a little more uplifting than usual" (PopNews, 02/07); "Lowlife remain immaculate sonic tragedians. Peerless" (Melody Maker, 1991); "San Antorium moves majestically across the landscape, soaring and soothing in its simplicty, blissful in its wilderness" (M8, 1991)
  • Lowlife - Band Biography By Brian Guthrie

    Ott 10 2010, 11:31

    It's October 2005, and I'm sitting in a hotel bar in Grangemouth, Scotland, with four guys who are meeting in the same room for the first time since 1989. They are Will Heggie, Craig Lorentson, Stuart Everest and Grant McDowall, together known as the original, and many say the best, line up of Lowlife.

    The waistlines, with the exception of Craig, are somewhat larger, and some hairlines have receded altogether, but undeniably there is an instant buzz as they click with ease into past roles. There's also a lot of emotion, air is cleared, and what has remained unspoken for many years is now said - it's all quite cathartic, but also very exciting. Before I go on, however, may I first take you back a little further?

    Grangemouth is hardly a pretty place. Dominated by a huge petro-chemical complex and vast docklands, it's not the sort of place you'd think of as a natural home to those who are creative, but from this town have sprung artists, actors, authors and many musicians. Back in the early 1980s two well known bands would emerge. One of these was the Cocteau Twins, formed by my brother Robin and his long time pal Will Heggie, along with Liz Fraser, who they first met dancing at the infamous International Hotel punk club, which I'd been running for some years. The other was Dead Neighbours, once described by Sounds as "Scotland's answer to The Cramps".

    Dead Neighbours were fronted by the tall and imposing figure of vocalist Craig Lorentson. With his white leather jacket, dark quiff and deep booming voice, he was part Elvis and part Lux Interior, with a dash of Nick Cave thrown in for good measure. Along with bassist David Steel, guitarist Ronnie Buchanan and drummer Grant McDowall (and me at the helm as manager), the band quickly built up a solid following around the country, mainly via an endless run of support and guest slots on tours with The Alarm, King Kurt, The Meteors, The Cult, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, The Damned and Johnny Thunders.

    Their debut album Harmony in Hell hit the indie charts for a couple of weeks in 1982, and live work kept coming in, the band by now headlining quite large venues. However on the eve of the recording of their second album, Strangedays/ Strangeways, David Steel left the band after getting married, and suddenly they found themselves with no bass player. At that point I called Will Heggie, who had recently departed the Cocteau Twins after an arduous European tour supporting OMD early in 1983, and had turned down the chance to team up with Dead Can Dance. Since he'd headed back home to Scotland, I asked if he'd help out on the recording and some forthcoming shows - fully expecting him to tell me where to stick it. Thankfully he said yes, and a day later he was bashing through a rough set in our rehearsal hall in the local high school. More than that, though, the foundations and chemistry that would become Lowlife were now in place. Through happy accident I had brought together a set of very different people, and something magical began to happen.

    Within weeks it was obvious that Dead Neighbours were no longer ploughing the psychobilly furrow, and a new songwriting team had begun to emerge with material that broke new boundaries for them. Indeed the finished album even included the original version of Coward's Way, a song that would later become a Lowlife classic. With the Johnny Thunders tour on the horizon, in came guitarist Stuart Everest, another old school chum of Will and my brother, adding yet another new dimension. All the component parts for what would become Lowlife were now in place, and it was no surprise when Ronnie Buchanan left the band after the tour, leaving the other four to move on and develop. The name was borrowed from a song by Public Image Limited.

    Thus in the Fall of 1985 Lowlife entered Palladium Studios in Edinburgh to record Rain, their debut mini-album, six songs of blistering intensity and a rare statement of intent. The band had no label, so along with a lot of my faith, hope and charity (ie a bank loan) I set up a label, Nightshift, to release the record. It didn't take long for the press and radio to pick up on it, especially after a glowing review from Ian Gittins in Melody Maker:

    "A charming swirl merely hinting at it's designs… Lowlife are infant and suggestive and, with care, could nurture a rare beauty"

    Rain made the independent and airplay charts in the UK, USA and France, and it was soon clear that there was demand for a full album. Labels, publishers and booking agents began to track the band (Jim Robertson at ITB was quick to offer an agency deal) and Lowlife's reputation began to grow and grow.

    August 1986 saw the release of the album Permanent Sleep, again on Nightshift. Again the response was instant and positive:

    "Lowlife practice a mystical form of musical alchemy, with crystalline perfection, transcending descriptive narrative to achieve the perfect cohesion between words and music. This is true holistic music and far greater, far more splendid, than the sum of its parts" (Helen Fitzgerald / Melody Maker)

    "Lowlife construct their deep atmospheres through hypnotically mysterious songs… The album glides gracefully from beginning to end with tantalizing intensity, like the lingering glow of autumn" (Ron Rom / Sounds - 4 stars)

    "Lowlife meander like a slow and beautiful dream, slipping into gear from time to time to hammer home the killer punch" (Dave Henderson / Q - 4 stars)

    At this point I was spending every other week flying down to London to discuss possible deals. Arista were interested, as were Virgin, Cherry Red and WEA, but none were really offering a solid album-based deal, or the money to develop the band and spend the amount of time in the studio Lowlife needed to perfect their craft. After I noticed a small ad in Music Week about a new publishing company called Working Music, I took a flyer and sent them a promo package. A couple of days later I got a call from Jeff Chegwin - yes, of that Chegwin family. Jeff was the twin brother of broadcaster Keith, with the added bonus of a sister, Janice Long, who at the time was in a top position at BBC Radio 1.

    A deal was quickly concluded, and with a decent advance in the bank the band quickly knuckled down to recording a new ep, Vain Delights, with a video for the lead track Hollow Gut. Again the reviews were amazing. John Peel, who had aired a couple of tracks early on, was now joined by Janice and several others at the BBC in giving Hollow Gut airplay, while the video found its way onto DEF 2 and Snub TV. Most surprising of all, some of the more teen-orientated music mags like Smash Hits and Record Mirror also began to lavish praise on Lowlife:

    "Profound, melancholic and reaches the parts other ephemeral pieces of plastic cannot reach. Who needs a middle eight when the sum total is this evocative" (Lesley O'Toole / Record Mirror)

    1987 was to prove a hugely important year for the band. Over the course of six months a second full album, Diminuendo, was slowly, carefully and joyously constructed. As with previous records, these sessions were produced by Keith Mitchell. It was assumed by many that Lowlife would end up on 4AD, but in truth Ivo Watts Russell was never interested in the band. Meanwhile the major labels maintained interest, but no one seemed willing to make a move. In truth, it wasn't totally about the music, and as John Tobler remarked in the trade paper Music Week:

    "Lowlife are a band whose virtuosity comes close to excellence, but whose image is fearsome"

    The strange dichotomy which always existed was this. As people, the band lived the rock n' roll dream to excess. You may have read about the extremes experienced by the likes of Motley Crue or Aerosmith, but - believe me - those guys had nothing on Lowlife. The band created music of the greatest beauty, style and passion, yet as people they were a strange and bizarre mixture of beer and whiskey drinking hell-raisers, and dedicated crazy pranksters. I know, since I was their main victim… Oh yes, there was the time they decided to wire up the door handle at the rehearsal room to the mains. And the whole packet of Hubbly Bubbly gum squashed into my hair as I slept. And the barrage of fireworks launched at me across a car park. At times I felt like the hapless crooks in those 'Home Alone' movies - I didn't know what to expect next.

    Through all of that we were a team, but it was becoming apparent that most people in the business judged the guys next to impossible to deal with. In fact I think many A&R men were simply scared. Certainly the one Grant chased around a dressing room with a chair was. More than once I was asked: "how do you manage the unmanageable?"

    That said, we were spending as much money in the studio as any major label signing, and our success on our own independent label meant that in fact there was little another label could offer. On Nightshift Lowlife had complete control of their music and artwork, they liked it that way, and on its release in May 1987 Diminuendo marked another massive step forward. Dreams of what could be possible were now being realised:

    "Lowlife emerge from a distant eerie grace, out of an echo or pause with unworldly drama. The isolation, resonance of this music can bring to mind the notion of music of the spheres" (Ian Gittins / Melody Maker)

    "A further phase in Lowlife's refinement… evocative and dramatic, but never overbearing" (Dave Fudger / Q - 4 stars)

    "Dreamy and bittersweet, this album is mellow and even more than complete" (Alex Kadis / Underground)

    "Diminuendo is a landmark album, bustling with feeling, dripping with emotion and soft to the touch. Don't miss!!" (Music Week)

    The album appeared just as the band got underway on a lengthy UK tour with Australian band The Go-Betweens in May. Night after night Lowlife gave the headliners a run for their money, but both bands got on really well - too well, in fact, according to the GB's management. After a few nights partying I was told in no uncertain terms that Lowlife could no longer lead the all-too willing Aussies astray, this following a gig when Lindy toppled off her drum stool mid-set. For Lowlife the tour was a great success, finishing with a triumphant show at the Town & Country Club in London on the 10th, playing possibly the best set of their career so far and earning a resounding ovation.

    Further headline shows followed, including a prestigious ICA Rock Week gig in June 1987, attended by most of the press and many major label players. This should have been the night when things really took off, but it was not to be. Lowlife played a great show, but unfortunately Jeff Chegwin ending up having an altercation with his wife, which in turn resulted in Craig and Grant dragging their publisher outside onto The Mall. The finale wasn't pretty. To say things changed from that evening onwards would be an understatement. Many a jaw hit the deck, and record company chequebooks remained closed for Lowlife thereafter.

    That said, press and radio support continued, and our audience carried on increasing. A live-for-television set was broadcast on BBC Scotland on a show called FSD, and was later networked. Ramafied (a brand new song) was recorded for a cassette given free with Underground magazine, and to this day it remains one of Lowlife's most popular songs. The single Eternity Road and ep Swirl It Swings soon followed, and we even survived being ejected from REL studios after another of 'those' nights where the owner, seemingly in fear of his life, could take no more… More utter madness, but more mighty and magnificent music:

    "To ignore this would be a mortal sin - for Lowlife to slip away a greater one. Another way to heaven" (Melody Maker)

    "Another giant step for Lowlife… sharp and subtle - a confusing coupling as ever" (Underground)

    "Another hauntingly atmospheric release - confident, strong and effective" (Music Week)

    During 1988 plans were laid for the next album, and in the summer the band started to record assorted demos at Stuart's house on an old Portastudio and even more ancient two-track Revox. These songs were to form the basis of Godhead more than a year later - as well as what has become known as The Black Album, something of a holy grail amongst Lowlife devotees.

    What happened was this. The demos were presented to Jeff at Working Music, who in turn was tied to Chappell Music, where one Charlie Gladstone was based. He also ran an in-house label - Idea Records - and it was intended that the album would be financed and released by them. Chappell then pressed up around 250 copies of the 1988 demos in a plain black sleeve and circulated these around the business, mainly at the Midem trade festival in Cannes in January 1989.

    Stephen Fellows of The Comsat Angels heard the demos, and agreed to produce the next album at Axis in Sheffield. I personally was a huge fan of The Comsats since interviewing them during my time writing for Sounds. However, all was dependent upon our next option with Working Music and Chappell being exercised to fund the sessions. However US giant Warner Bros Music took over the Chappell operation, and the new regime didn't like what they'd heard about Lowlife, or our reputation, or the ICA incident, or the cost of taking up the option. So we were dropped, and gloom and despondency set in.

    I knew I had to get the new album together somehow, but the situation was complicated further by the fact that problems were developing between Stuart and the rest of the band. I was left to do the deed. No-one ever really told Stuart why he was out - he just was and that was that. From that day until their reunion in 2005 the original line-up didn't meet up again. I felt bad about it all, but I had to move on and get the album recorded.

    The rest of the band had no idea who to draft in on guitar, so I suggested a guy from Dundee called Hamish McIntosh, who'd released a cult album for Nightshift under the name Fuel. Elliot Davies, at that time the manager of Wet Wet Wet, had heard of our problems with Warner/Chappell, so he offered me the chance to use their Pet Sounds Studio in Glasgow, and work with Ted Blakeway, the Wet's main in-house engineer. Amazingly, with Hamish having only a few rehearsals, the Godhead album turned out to be an absolute treat in 1989. Fears that the two year delay between albums would result in a loss of momentum were soon dispelled:

    "Lowlife cast aside past references and perceptions with the most evocatively impressive music… It would be unforgivable if this album remains totally unnoticed" (The Catalogue - 4 stars)

    "Lowlife's Godhead takes us back to that classic case of a band who never reap enough acclaim because they won't play the game, but they deserve serious attention" (Martin Aston / Music Week)

    "Jesus complexes notwithstanding, Godhead is motivated by desolate rows of plangent guitars, a hollowed out sepulchral bass and the cold botherangst of a singer… If not exactly the head of god, this is about halfway up his midriff - buy it!!" (Paul Lester / Melody Maker)

    After Godhead appeared Grant was involved in a football accident and lost a finger. He was a bloody good amateur player, and a regular scorer for Falkirk AFC in the Sunday leagues, but with family commitments now coming to the fore he decided to retire from drumming. Hamish also decided to concentrate on his own Fuel project, so once again I was obliged to perform another 'band-graft' to keep the Lowlife operation alive and kicking. In came guitarist Hugh Duggie and drummer Martin Fleming, who were already established with their own band The Mutiny Strings. I knew them quite well and rated them highly. The idea to merge into Lowlife took quite a hard sell, but I was delighted that the new line-up was refreshed and charged with new enthusiasm. Moreover the chemistry and song writing clicked right away, and I knew then that the band still had a future.

    In the short term a compilation album, From a Scream To a Whisper was issued in 1990 to satisfy fans who had recently discovered the band, and missed out on the early releases. Meanwhile the new line up played a few select live shows, and slowly began to write material for the next album. Will also decided (after some persuasion from me) to get involved more on the label side, also doing some low key distribution for other small labels, some highlights of which were introducing UK audiences to the likes of Slint, Blake Babies, Julianna Hatfield and the U-Men via some direct import export.

    Behind the scenes, however, bigger business problems loomed. First our local Scottish distributor Fast Forward hit the wall, followed soon after by the spectacular collapse of Rough Trade Distribution in May 1991. The financial hole Nightshift dropped into was huge - we were not classed as preferential creditors, unlike like the taxman - and several original production masters simply disappeared from RTD. I tried to get compensation, to no avail, and soon some of the biggest sellers like Diminuendo and Godhead began turning up in bootleg form, slipping in from countries like Italy and Spain. It was a fraught time, and Nightshift struggled to avoid bankruptcy before a new distribution deal was secured with APT, which had itself risen from the ashes of Red Rhino after the RTD collapse. Again borrowing a substantial sum I got the business side of things back on track, and Lowlife could look forward to a long overdue return to the studio.

    By now almost three years had passed since Godhead, yet the promise of what San Antorium would eventually bring had everyone fired up with renewed enthusiasm. This time around we decided to work with Calum McLean, a highly skilled and very ambitious new producer, and possibly the only person around at the time with the brass neck, ego and attitude to take on and work with Lowlife. The sessions went very well indeed, with the band stretching themselves in many new directions, and guest musicians (including Calum himself) adding extra layers to the sonic landscape.

    While many fans argue the merit of exactly which Lowlife album is their best, most agree San Antorium in September 1991 was the most technically accomplished. Despite being out of the limelight for so long the reviews, as ever, were uniformly good:

    "It's a fine record, but still distanced from the mainstream, still occupying a territory all of its own……they deserve to be recognised as something really special" (Tom Lappin / The Scotsman)

    "Inevitably though, Lowlife are most profound when they are devastatingly desolate. They remain immaculate sonic tragedians, utterly peerless" (Ian Gittins / Melody Maker)

    "Lowlife certainly have talent, the most of which is shown off here on this album. Worth listening to, perfect!" (M8 Magazine)

    It seemed that nobody doubted Lowlife any more, and even Sky News came and filmed the band at work in the studio as San Antorium neared completion. A lot of people wanted the band to succeed and get the big break that they so richly deserved, but sadly it never came. As Lowlife moved further into 1990s the band played fewer live gigs, partly because there just weren't the right people to make it work onstage. The best dates were probably the short tour the band completed in December of 1991. Instead Hugh, Craig and Will continued writing and rehearsing in the back room of a pub every week, using drums machines for the very first time. New material continued to emerge, much of which was pretty experimental and never saw the light of day.

    The business gremlins which had dogged so much of our career returned once more, this time when APT folded. Nevertheless, Lowlife rose again and pieced together Gush. It's the darkest of the five core albums, and I suppose the sense of endings, of final closure hung over the entire sessions, especially as family commitments meant that Will had to leave the studio before the album was completed. That said, it still contains some damn fine songs and some of Craig's most incisive and heartfelt lyrics. Again several outside musicians were brought in to augment the basic trio, not least Jason Taylor, then involved in Bay with Aiden Moffat (of Arab Strap), who released two albums on the Anoise Annoys label, which now took on Lowlife as well.

    Gush was released in the UK late in 1995, and six months later in North America. As with San Antorium there were no live shows to support the album, and by 1997 it was all over, the band bowing out with a series of acclaimed unplugged shows that showed a freshness and zeal, and hinted at further greatness to come. Lowlife never actually broke up, they just drifted into the past, yet the music lives on. Every day college radio stations play the songs in the US, and thanks to the net there are websites and forums. And now, courtesy of LTM, the albums are available once again in the form of carefully remastered CDs with bonus tracks.

    So here we are, back in that hotel bar in Grangemouth, back together again after far too long apart, like some dysfunctional family reunited. And, yes, I am still the brunt of the jokes and pranks as we drink ourselves into the wee small hours. Amongst all the mayhem there was serious talk, reflection and many truths exposed, while plans were even hatched to work together again on new material and maybe, just maybe, some reunion shows. I hope so, since Lowlife live on a good night are truly awesome, and for a band that were sometimes labeled as shoe-gazers, they actually created a sonic storm that really rocked. I kid you not, the power of their music came from a pure and passionate intensity that grabbed you in the gut and tossed you all about.

    Meantime if you are new to what Lowlife are all about then suck in the delights of this compilation. We're not saying it's a Best Of, rather it's an introduction and reflection of what the band were all about. For those of you who are die-hard fans, curl up with some old friends once again.

    All this is just a flavour of my years with Lowlife. There are many other tales and adventures to be told. For all the heartache, stress and disasters along the way I still would not change a thing, because at the end of the day I don't think I've had so much fun, or laughed as much since. But above everything else it was the music, something unique and so different from my normal choice of sonic pleasures that filled me with joy and wonder. Hopefully we all might meet up somewhere to do it all again, down that mystical path we call Eternity Road.

    It is with great regret that I report that Craig passed away on the evening of Friday 4 June 2010. He will be sorely missed.

    Brian Guthrie