Between 1984 and 1991 This Mortal Coil released three moody masterpieces, It’ll End In Tears (1984), Filigree And Shadow (1986) and Blood (1991). The brainchild of 4AD ‘s co-founder and tastemaker Ivo Watts-Russell, the plan seems to have been to take lost classics from the sixties and seventies and reinterpret them within the circle of his arty contemporary musical friends, mainly on the 4AD label, Watts-Russell acting as musical director. The releases kept the 4AD tradition of ‘album cover as art’ care of Vaughn Oliver from design gurus 23 Envelope.
Here we have Caroline Crawley from Bournemouth’s Shelleyan Orphan singing Syd Barrett’s Late Night from Barrett’s 1970 album, The Madcap Laughs. The experiment was mostly successful, the songs became atmospheres of melancholy and sadness whilst creating odd pairings such as Kim Deal and Tanya Donneley from The Pixies and Throwing Muses/Belly with Chris Bell’s You And Your Sister on Blood and Howard Devoto with Alex Chilton’s Holocaust on It’ll End In Tears. But although the albums maintain a similar mood they are also wonderfully eclectic in the choice of material and some pairings are marriages made in heaven such as Liz Fraser singing Tim Buckley’s Song To The Siren.
These albums were a tremendous influence on me in my late twenties and into my thirties as I played them to death. In fact I like them so much that I could write an essay on every song they released (don’t worry). If you haven’t heard these albums, Monday morning 8AM whether it be the record store, E Bay, Discogs, Amazon or Spotify – they are absolutely essential listening.