Soundtrack of my life: Lloyd Cole

Last updated 05:00 15/06/2014

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My parents were awfully young when I was born. My earliest memory is of four 20-somethings gathered around a record player listening to Can't Buy Me Love, and me, on the floor playing with alphabet blocks.

Ours wasn't a quiet house. There was a piano in our living room. My father taught himself to play Fats Domino-style. I never studied, but it was always there, and I was free to play around.

We had all the Beatles albums and I liked them well enough. But then there was T Rex. I received Electric Warrior for my 11th birthday, and soon saved and bought The Slider for myself.

I entered a competition in the New Musical Express and won a T-Shirt emblazoned with the top-hatted Bolan, which I wore with my purple velvet loons. Maybe not the smartest move in rural Derbyshire when considering one's physical well-being, but there I was. The lads reacted predictably, the girls quite liked it.

The music was everything to me. I devoured these albums. Marc's songs were perfect for the soon-to-be-pubescent teen: brimming with sex, but alive with much more - post hippie mysticism, pop culture, melancholy - and he perfectly balanced an automotive rock strut with an elfin soul.

The music was filled with ambition: T Rex were top of the charts but Marc wanted to be the Glam Dylan and maybe for a minute he was, even if he mispronounced Dvorak ...

And the sound. That sound. No band has ever been able to replicate it and many have tried. These were pop records, but T Rex was a rock band. Marc did his thing - his take on Chuck Berry - while Micky Finn was there for show, mostly, but the rhythm section of Steve Curry and Bill Legend were solid and funky.

Playing straight is always funkier ... I wish I'd understood that in 1987.

Tony Visconti knew it and his arrangements - adding the baritone sax and cellos and the ghostly vocals of Flo and Eddy - took Marc's vision to an entirely better place than either of them could have hoped. When Visconti was gone, so was the magic, but for a couple of years Marc and Tony made the most beautiful rock music I have ever heard."

How to hear him

Fresh from sell-out gigs across Europe, Lloyd Cole has been touring New Zealand alongside LA-based New Zealand singer/songwriter Greg Johnson. His final performance is tonight at Ascension Wine Estate, Matakana.

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- Sunday Star Times

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