Easy Pieces

Easy Pieces is the second album by the British band Lloyd Cole and the Commotions

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. It was released on Polydor Records in the UK on 22 November 1985 and included the hit singles “Brand New Friend” (#19 in UK), “Lost Weekend” (#17 in UK) and “Cut Me Down” (#38 in UK). The title of the album derives from the film Five Easy Pieces, which Cole described as “one of my very favourite films”, saying, “I want to write at least five songs out of that film”.
Following the praise and healthy sales of their debut album Rattlesnakes the previous year, Easy Pieces became the band’s fastest-selling album, selling more in its first two weeks than Rattlesnakes had managed in a whole year. It was also their highest charting album in the UK, peaking at number 5, aided by three top 40 singles. However, despite Easy Pieces’ commercial success, the reception from critics was lukewarm and the band themselves were unhappy with the end result. Cole would later say, “It strikes me that there’s something really fresh on the first album which has been dragged onto the second album, and the freshness is not there and something to replace the freshness is not there either”. Bass player Lawrence Donegan was more succinct, describing the album as “terrible”.

The band intended Easy Pieces to be more accessible than Rattlesnakes, with Cole saying, “We wanted the sound to be warmer, more luscious”. He described the lead single “Brand New Friend” as being “about a character who’s in a fairly pitiful position of being aware that he’s not as happy as he once was, but not being sure what to do about it. He’s also aware that he’s verging on self-pity, which is also quite ridiculous. So it’s quite funny too. He’s aware it’s a little cry for help.” Cole would later disown some of his writing on the album, stating in 1990, “There are two terrible songs on Easy Pieces, one called “Grace” and another called “Minor Character” which is literally the worst lyric ever written. I really believed I was the Raymond Carver of song when I wrote that. It’s truly appalling.”
Following promotion for Rattlesnakes, the band went back into the studio with Paul Hardiman again to record the follow-up. However, the relaxed atmosphere that had surrounded the recording of the first record was not replicated – Polydor had left the group alone while recording Rattlesnakes but now the band were well known and commercially successful, they took a more active interest and soon dismissed Hardiman, after the initial recording sessions did not immediately prove fruitful. Experienced producers Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley were drafted in to replace him. Unlike Hardiman, who had taken a hands-off approach, Langer and Winstanley made more suggestions during the recording process, which the Commotions didn’t always agree with. Langer asked Cole to control the vibrato in his voice, which Cole had no idea how to do as it was his natural way of singing, and as a result he became self-conscious about his singing. Reflecting in 2004 on the process of recording Easy Pieces, Cole felt that they had been pushed into making a second record too quickly: “We didn’t give ourselves time to step back and think. The record company was telling us ‘this is your moment and you must take it now’ – which is crap. People would have waited for us. We were insecure so we made the record too soon and the record company fired Paul Hardiman

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.”
Unlike the widespread praise for Rattlesnakes, the reception for Easy Pieces was noticeably cooler. Melody Maker felt that “these songs and their performances sound second-hand. The music is mushy and lacks edges, keyboards brought forward to dilute the guitars. Cole’s lyrics sound as though they were written to fit the metre rather than to say anything

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.” NME damned the album with faint praise, saying that “taken on its own terms, it’s that most simultaneously fine and useless of creations, a very good pop record”. Sounds observed that “the solid production swells to leave no white space. That, though, is the downfall. So solid is this backing, and so relatively unvaried, every verse filled with Cole tones alone, that each tune becomes part of a suety whole. Individually many of the tracks are opalescent, but the overriding feel becomes one of a long (too long) excursion into […] American country pop.”
In the US Spin was more enthusiastic, stating, “The promise reflected on their impressive debut album Rattlesnakes has been kept… [Cole] and the Commotions write clean, crisp, guitar-oriented pop songs with addictive hook lines.”
All lyrics written by Lloyd Cole, all songs composed by Cole except where noted.
Lloyd Cole and the Commotions:
Additional personnel:

John Eaves

John Eaves (born April 9, 1962) is a designer and illustrator best known for his work on the Star Trek franchise, starting with Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. He served as a production illustrator on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Enterprise and was involved in all four Next Generation movies, specifically being responsible for the design of the Sovereign-class Enterprise-E. He also worked on a variety of films, such as Top Gun

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, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Valkyrie and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
The first film Eaves worked on was Top Gun, as a model maker. These included the F-14 Tomcat and Northrop F-5 models which were used for the special effects shots of the aircraft. Prior to his work on the film, he had been working as a produce clerk at Bayless Markets. Eaves also worked as a model maker on a variety of other films, including Spaceballs and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. He also worked on the television series SeaQuest DSV. His first work on the Star Trek franchise was on Star Trek V: The Final Frontier whilst working at Greg Jein’s model shop in Marina del Rey, California. His first design was the wing cannon for the Klingon Bird of Prey.
Eaves was introduced to Herman Zimmerman through Eaves’ friend Phil Edgerly. Zimmerman was looking for someone to put together a display of Enterprise, and Eaves drew up a plan for the display. Zimmerman was impressed by the artwork, and asked Eaves to join his design team for Star Trek Generations.
After the work on Generations ended, Eaves returned to his work constructing fibreglass models. When an job became available on the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine art department during season four, Zimmerman invited Eaves to join the team. At the time, Eaves was working on a Boeing 747 model for the film Executive Decision. Eaves spent the next twelve years working on one incarnation of Star Trek or another. During this time, his work included the designs of the Phoenix, the Enterprise-E and the Vulcan ship from Star Trek: First Contact. The initial model of the Enterprise-E was constructed by Eaves.
His design work featured in the Deep Space Nine episode “Far Beyond the Stars”, during the part of the episode set in the 1950s. After working on Star Trek: Insurrection, where his designs included the Son’a vessels, Zimmerman brought Eaves onto the team behind Star Trek: Enterprise as Production Illustrator. Whilst working on that series

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, he started work on the Enterprise (NX-01), as well as the Suliban vessels. His work on the final TNG film Star Trek: Nemesis included the design of the Reman starship

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, the Scimitar.
John has most recently been known to have worked on the 2009 Star Trek film, and he was also involved with Perpetual Entertainment as a production consultant and illustrator on their now defunct MMOG

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, Star Trek Online, though many of his contributions remain intact within the version being developed by Cryptic Studios. He also provided the designs of the spaceships for the science fiction themed social network MyOuterSpace. He was also in charge of art direction for Star Trek: Renegades, a fan produced pilot funded through Kickstarter and made by the creators of Star Trek: Of Gods and Men. He worked on several films as an illustrator following Star Trek, including Tropic Thunder

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, Valkyrie and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
As of 2015, he is also a member of the board of advisers for the Hollywood Sci-Fi Museum.