Rattlesnakes (album)

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Studio album by Lloyd Cole and the Commotions
Released 12 October 1984
Recorded 1984 at The Garden, east London
Genre Indie pop
Length 35:29
Label Polydor (UK & Europe)
Geffen (US & Canada)
Producer Paul Hardiman
Lloyd Cole and the Commotions chronology
Easy Pieces
Singles from Rattlesnakes
  1. "Perfect Skin"
    Released: 11 May 1984
  2. "Forest Fire"
    Released: 17 August 1984
  3. "Rattlesnakes"
    Released: 2 November 1984

Rattlesnakes is the debut album by British group Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, released on 12 October 1984.[1] The album reached #13 in the UK record charts and included the hit singles "Perfect Skin" (#26 in UK), "Forest Fire" (#41 in UK) and "Rattlesnakes" (#65 in UK, #31 in the Netherlands).


The bulk of the album was written by frontman Lloyd Cole, who formed the band while a student at the University of Glasgow. Cole cites Bob Dylan and Booker T. & the MGs as major influences, but also notes the impact of his studies in English and philosophy on both the album's title, a reference to the novel Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion, and its lyrics, which also reference Renata Adler, Simone de Beauvoir and Norman Mailer.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[3]
Melody Maker favourable[4]
NME very favourable[5]
Robert Christgau (B+)[6]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[7]
Sounds 4.5/5 stars[8]

The reception for the UK music magazines at the time of the album's release was generally very positive. Sounds stated, "Rattlesnakes is a wonderful LP, the most refreshing, uncontrived gorgeous lump of gold to be mined from Scotland in ages, pursuing the alternately vibrant and tender pop courses discovered by 'Perfect Skin' and the classic 'Forest Fire'. And it still finds time for excursions into Dylanesque string-embellished balladry, age-old blues licks or eloquent country melody, all led on by the infinitely capable guitar of Neil Clarke (sic)."[8] NME said, "Is there anyone who doesn't like Cole and his cronies, who have made the Velvets do a part C&W album and part deep-south blues-funk – gentle, self-mocking, inoffensive and superbly balanced. Every song is instantly memorable."[5] Melody Maker was somewhat more critical, believing that "like Orange Juice's Texas Fever and ABC's The Lexicon of Love, Rattlesnakes is an album of cynicism masquerading as romance. It's about past pop's legacy to the present, rather than love or hate or any of the emotions it feigns. It's about how modes of expression haven't moved on one iota from early Bob Dylan, how a generation bereft of its own voice fallsback on playing with the language of its peers." However, the review went on to state that the album had much to commend it and admitted that it "had been too hard here on purpose because this record's good enough to stand it. Compared to most else around, it's a gem but Rattlesnakes cried out to shed some of that perfect skin. Then, maybe, we'd believe as well as admire."[4]

Calling the record "one of the finest debuts of the '80s", Allmusic stated that "Rattlesnakes is a college rock masterpiece of smart, ironic lyrics and sympathetic folk-rock-based melodies".[3]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics by Lloyd Cole, all music composed by Cole except where noted.

  1. "Perfect Skin" – 3:16
  2. "Speedboat" – 4:37
  3. "Rattlesnakes" (Cole, Neil Clark) – 3:28
  4. "Down on Mission Street" – 3:49
  5. "Forest Fire" – 4:39
  6. "Charlotte Street" – 3:55
  7. "2CV" – 2:52
  8. "Four Flights Up" (Cole, Lawrence Donegan) – 2:37
  9. "Patience" (Cole, Blair Cowan) – 3:40
  10. "Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken?" (Cole, Clark) – 3:06

1985 CD bonus tracks[edit]

The album was released on CD in April 1985, six months after the LP/cassette. This CD included four additional songs, all of which had been B-sides to the singles.

  1. "Sweetness" (B-side of "Rattlesnakes") – 2:48
  2. "Andy's Babies" (Cole, Donegan) (B-side of "Forest Fire") – 2:50
  3. "The Sea and the Sand" (B-side of "Perfect Skin" 7" and 12") – 3:02
  4. "You Will Never Be No Good" (Cole, Cowan) (B-side of "Perfect Skin" 12") – 2:41

The CD also included the extended version of "Forest Fire" which had appeared on the 12" version of the single, which at 5:11 is 45 seconds longer than the version on the 7" single and on the original album release. The de luxe edition released in 2004 reverted to the shorter 7" version.

2004 deluxe edition[edit]

In 2004, the band reformed for a brief European reunion tour to commemorate the album's 20th anniversary.[2] At the same time, a deluxe edition of the album was released on Universal International and Capitol. The deluxe edition includes the 10 original album tracks, the four tracks from the bonus edition and 14 additional tracks, including demos, concert and radio performances.

The new configuration of the CD featured only the original album on the first disc with the extra tracks from the 1990 CD reissue relocated to the end of the second disc. Curiously, the extended version of "Forest Fire" was not included as a bonus track on this edition.The album was remastered by Gary Moore from the original mastertapes where possible. The CD booklet included comments from Cole and the rest of the band on the various tracks. The BBC tracks included eventually were re-released as part of "Live at the BBC Volume 1".

Disc Two DEMOS:

  1. "Are You Ready To be Heartbroken?" (demo)
  2. "Perfect Skin" (demo)


  1. "Glory"
  2. "Beautiful City"
  3. "Charlotte Street"
  4. "Sweetness"


  1. "Patience"
  2. "Forest Fire"
  3. "Speedboat"
  4. "Rattlesnakes"


  1. "The Sea And The Sand"
  2. "You Will Never Be No Good"
  3. "Andy's Babies"
  4. "Glory"
  5. "Sweetness"
  6. "Beautiful City" ("Rattlesnakes" outtake)
  7. "Jesus Said"[9]


Lloyd Cole and the Commotions:


  • Paul Hardiman – producer
  • Ric Ocasek – remixing (on "Perfect Skin", "Four Flights Up", and "Patience")
  • Anne Dudley and the Commotions – string arrangements
  • Derek MacKillop - management

The album was recorded and produced at The garden Studio in Shoreditch, owned by John Foxx


  • Robert Farber – cover photo
  • Da Gama – cover design


  1. ^ "Record News". NME (London, England: IPC Media): 45. 6 October 1984. 
  2. ^ a b Shanahan, Mark. November 1, 2006. Cole spell. Boston Globe. Accessed August 24, 2007.
  3. ^ a b Mason, Stewart. Lloyd Cole and the Commotions – Rattlesnakes > Review at AllMusic
  4. ^ a b Sutherland, Steve (6 October 1984). "Review: Lloyd Cole and the Commotions – Rattlesnakes". Melody Maker (London, England: IPC Media): 37. 
  5. ^ a b Carroll, Cath (6 October 1984). "Review: Lloyd Cole and the Commotions – Rattlesnakes". NME (London, England: IPC Media): 37. 
  6. ^ Robert Christgau review
  7. ^ Rolling Stone review at the Wayback Machine (archived December 11, 2008)
  8. ^ a b Gibson, Robin (6 October 1984). "Review: Lloyd Cole and the Commotions – Rattlesnakes". Sounds (London, England: Spotlight Publications): 36. 
  9. ^ CD Booklet, "Rattlesnakes" deluxe edition, 2004