100 Greatest Songs of the 80’s #14 This Mortal Coil – Song To The Siren

Released : 1983

There are cult record labels, and then there is 4AD, the London based imprint who became so important to it’s fans that many of them bought everything they released on sight before sound. Much of this devotion was down to the incredible sleeve art of the late Vaughan Oliver, covers that gave these records such a distinct visual identity shoppers could spot one of them in stores without even reading the words on the cover.

This Mortal Coil was a collective brought about through 4AD founder Ivo Watts-Russell, the title a typically British use of a phrase from the TV series Monty Python. It’s brief was to create an environment in which the participants could feel released into greater creativity, but the first project It’ll End In Tears achieved this only by degree.

It’s apex remains Song To The Siren, on which Cocteau Twins Liz Fraser gives Tim Buckley’s original dreams, her scatter-bird voice rolling the otherwise simple treatment into an ever increasing haze. Buckley’s work began it’s path to modern day reappraisal here – and there are those who remain as fanatically devoted to this latter day reimagining as they did to it’s host label’s gothic imagery, arguing with some justification that it remains the greatest cover version of the decade.


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