Review Revue: This Mortal Coil – Blood


The idea of the band This Mortal Coil is quite ingenious, really. Ivo Watts-Russell, who founded the label 4AD Records (probably past, present or future home of some of your favorite bands) started a band in the early 80s whose original purpose seems to have been to promote his label. The band featured Watts-Russell and a rotating cast of guest musicians, most of them from 4AD bands. Many of the songs they recorded were covers, often of songs by other 4AD bands. I’m trying to imagine Jonathan Poneman starting a band and recording an album with Sera Cahoone, Sam Beam (Iron & Wine), Alan Sparhawk (Low), and Chris Martin (Kinski) covering songs by Beach House, the Ruby Suns and Tiny Vipers — and maybe throwing in some old folk tunes, too. Actually, that would be awesome.

Watts-Russell retired the This Mortal Coil name after the release of this album, but now that I think about it, he should probably bring it back. You’d buy an album featuring members of Bon Iver, Department of Eagles, Future of the Left, and the Mountain Goats, wouldn’t you?

“I’m quite pleased with this, actually. The Chris Bell cut (#6) features the Breeders gals, and is nice. Perhaps the first two had more ‘stellar’ line-ups, but there are some dope additions to personnel here. I especially like Caroline Crawley outside of Shelleyan Orphan‘s diaphonous setting. Avoid the soul II soulish super bonus beat breaks, and dig in.”

“#s 6 & 20 are Chris Bell covers; he was an early [founding, actually] member of Big Star who died after recording is 1st now-out-of-print LP. #7 is a Spirit cover, #13 is by Syd Barrett, & #16 is by David Roback (Opal, Mazzy Star, Rain Parade). Those are the ones I recognize. Not bad overall, but the 1st 2 volumes of this series featured a more stellar lineup of musicians. I’d hoped for better.”

“Adequate but not stunning collection of 4AD atmospherics, produced by gloom guru Ivo Watts-Russell. Not too many luminaries make an appearance this time around — Kim Deal and Tanya Donelly show up once. I prefer The Marvels of Insect Life to this…”

“4.1 was written by Rodney Crowell, Rosanne Cash’s soon-to-be-ex husband.”

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One Comment

  1. Chris Estey
    Posted November 19, 2009 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant idea about resurrecting this amazing concept, Levi! You should start it with your pals. You and they are worthy.

    For those that did not follow Watts-Russell’s future adventures in beautiful music need to check out what I think was the next release, 1999’s The Hope Blister’s “Smile’s OK.” It’s more spare, less guest stars, but just as gorgeous a selection of songs (devoted to one female singer I’ll let be a surprise). If you have the trilogy, you need this too.

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