This Mortal Coil

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This Mortal Coil
OriginUnited Kingdom
Years active1983–1991
Past membersIvo Watts-Russell
John Fryer

This Mortal Coil were a British music collective led by Ivo Watts-Russell, founder of the British record label 4AD.[4] Although Watts-Russell and John Fryer were the only two official members, the band's recorded output featured a large rotating cast of supporting artists, many of whom were otherwise associated with 4AD, including members of Cocteau Twins, Pixies and Dead Can Dance.[5] The project became known for its gothic, dream pop sound, and released three full albums, beginning in 1984 with It'll End in Tears.[6]


Watts-Russell had founded 4AD in 1980, and the label established itself as one of the key labels in the British post-punk movement.[citation needed] Following several releases, Watts-Russell developed the idea of collaborating under the name This Mortal Coil.[7] The name is taken from lyrics to the song Dream Within A Dream by Spirit ("...Stepping off this mortal coil will be my pleasure..."),[8] which in turn is a quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet ("... what dreams may come, when we have shuffled off this mortal coil...").

The 4AD website said:

This Mortal Coil was not a band, but a unique collaboration of musicians recording in various permutations, the brainchild of 4AD kingpin Ivo Watts-Russell. The idea was to allow artists the creative freedom to record material outside of the realm of what was expected of them; it also created the opportunity for innovative cover versions of songs personal to Ivo.

One of the label's earliest signings was Modern English. In 1983, Watts-Russell suggested that the band re-record two of its earliest songs, "Sixteen Days" and "Gathering Dust", as a medley. At the time, the band was closing its set with this medley, and Watts-Russell felt it was strong enough to warrant a re-recording. When the band rebuffed the idea, Watts-Russell decided to assemble a group of musicians to record the medley: Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins; Cindy Sharp of Cindytalk; and a few members of Modern English.[7] An EP, Sixteen Days/Gathering Dust, resulted from these sessions. A cover of Tim Buckley's "Song to the Siren", performed by Fraser and Guthrie alone, was recorded as a B-side for the EP. Pleased with the results, Watts-Russell decided to make this the A-side of the 7" single version of the EP, and the song quickly became an underground hit, leading Watts-Russell to pursue the recording of a full album under the This Mortal Coil moniker, 1984's It'll End in Tears.[7]

In June 1998, Watts-Russell began releasing albums in a similar vein to his TMC projects, under the name The Hope Blister.[9]



Studio albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions
UK Indie
It'll End in Tears
  • Released: 1 October 1984
  • Label: 4AD
  • Formats: LP, MC
38 1 42
Filigree & Shadow
  • Released: 22 September 1986
  • Label: 4AD
  • Formats: CD, 2xLP, 2xMC
53 2
  • Released: 22 April 1991
  • Label: 4AD
  • Formats: CD, 2xLP, MC
28 58
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

Compilation albums[edit]

Title Album details
Dust & Guitars

Box sets[edit]

Title Album details
  • Released: 30 March 1993
  • Label: 4AD
  • Formats: 4xCD
This Mortal Coil
  • Released: 7 November 2011
  • Label: 4AD
  • Formats: 4xHDCD


Title Album details Peak chart positions
Sixteen Days / Gathering Dust
  • Released: 2 September 1983
  • Label: 4AD
  • Formats: 12"


Title Year Peak chart positions Album
UK Indie
"Song to the Siren" 1983 66 3 39 8 It'll End in Tears
"Kangaroo" 1984 92 2
"Come Here My Love"/"Drugs" (limited release) 1986 90 2 Filigree & Shadow
"You and Your Sister" (Benelux and France-only release) 1991 42 13 Blood
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.



  1. ^ Steve Huey. "This Mortal Coil | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  2. ^ Frank Deserto. October 31, 2017. 40 Years of Goth: Essential Albums from the Genre's Beginnings Archived 2019-01-19 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Staff (21 March 2013). "13 Best Goth Albums of All Time". Spectrum Culture. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  4. ^ "This Mortal Coil". 4AD. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  5. ^ Huey, Steve. "This Mortal Coil". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
  6. ^ Steve Huey. "This Mortal Coil | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  7. ^ a b c Colin Larkin, ed. (2003). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Eighties Music (Third ed.). Virgin Books. p. 460. ISBN 1-85227-969-9.
  8. ^ Douridas, Chris (13 March 1998). "Morning Becomes Eclectic interview with Ivo Watts-Russell". KCRW. Retrieved 16 March 2021.
  9. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. pp. 987–988. ISBN 1-84195-017-3.
  10. ^ a b c "THIS MORTAL COIL | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Retrieved 10 March 2022.
  11. ^ a b Lazell, Barry (1997). Indie Hits 1980–1989. Cherry Red Books. ISBN 0-9517206-9-4.
  12. ^ "Dutch Charts -". Retrieved 10 March 2022.
  13. ^ " - New Zealand charts portal". Retrieved 10 March 2022.
  14. ^ " - ULTRATOP BELGIAN CHARTS". Retrieved 10 March 2022.
  15. ^ "Dutch Charts -". Retrieved 10 March 2022.
  16. ^ " - New Zealand charts portal". Retrieved 10 March 2022.

External links[edit]