#900: 1983, This Mortal Coil, Song to the Siren

by Ray_North on May 29, 2014

It isn’t very long, it doesn’t have massive guitars or drums or a rousing chorus, nor was it a massive hit (well not in the mainstream charts, was pretty huge in the old Indie Chart)- indeed, quite a few of you will have probably forgotten about This Mortal Coil – but, to mark our 900th song, I could think of nothing better than this beautiful haunting lament.

For those of you who’ve forgotten – This Mortal Coil were a kind of Indie Supergroup put together by 4AD Supremo Ivo Watts-Russell, which lasted in various guises from 1983 until 1991. During that time they recorded mainly cover versions of various songs and included members from such indie luminaries from the early to mid 80s such as Tanya Donnelly, Wolfgang Press, Xmal Deutschland, Colourbox, Belly, The Pixies and Heidi Berry.

This though is, to my mind, the greatest thing that This Mortal Coil ever recorded. In reality it is the Cocteau Twins – with Elizabeth Fraser’s vocals and Robin Guthrie providing the instrumentation and was released as a B side of an EP that the Ivo put together to try to maximise the creativity of the talents at his disposal.

And, my word, do they do this song justice.

Written by the wonderful and doomed Tim Buckley in 1967, it is a magnificent and haunting song that tells of the innocence and destructive power of love.

I wager that once you listen to it, you’ll come back to it again and again.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

David Blythin May 29, 2014 at 7:39 pm

I did….and I have…again and again. Great choice Ray, and the original is pretty wonderful too.


Fionauk512 May 29, 2014 at 7:43 pm

Beautiful…..had completely forgotten this…thanks.


Geoff Elliott May 30, 2014 at 6:35 am

They recorded a very beautiful version of Roy Harper’s ‘Another Day’ too. An album (It’ll end in tears) I still play quite often.


George_East May 30, 2014 at 10:49 am

A stunningly beautiful song. I have a memory that it was number 1 in the old NME indie charts for about a year. Also one of the primary exhibits in evidence in support of John Peel’s view that Liz Fraser sang with the voice of God.


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