Lullabies To Violaine - 2005

Lullabies To Violaine Disc 1
   Lullabies EP (1982)
     Alas Dies Laughing
     It's All But An Ark Lark
   Peppermint Pig EP (1983)
     Peppermint Pig
     Laugh Lines
   Sunburst And Snowblind EP (1983)
     Sugar Hiccup
     From The Flagstones
     Because Of Whirl-Jack
   The Spangle Maker EP (1984)
     The Spangle Maker
     Pearly-Dewdrops Drops
   Aikea-Guinea EP (1985)
Disc 2
   Tiny Dynamine EP (1985)
     Pink Orange Red
     Ribbed And Veined
     Plain Tiger
     Sultitan Itan
   Echoes In A Shallow Bay EP (1985)
     Great Spangled Fritillary
     Pale Clouded White
     Eggs And Their Shells
   Love's Easy Tears EP (1986)
     Love's Easy Tears
     Those Eyes, That Mouth
     Sigh's Smell Of Farewell
     Orange Appled
   Iceblink Luck (1990)
     Iceblink Luck
     Mizake The Mizan
Disc 3
   Evangeline (1993)
     Mud And Dark
   Snow (1993)
     Winter Wonderland
     Frosty The Snowman
   Bluebeard (1994)
     Three Swept
     Bluebeard (acoustic version)
   Twinlights (1995)
     Rilkean Heart
     Pink Orange Red
Disc 4
   Otherness (1995)
     Feet-Like Fins
     Seekers Who Are Lovers
     Cherry-Coloured Funk
   Tishbite (1996)
     Primitive Heart
     Flock of Soul
     An Elan
   Violaine (1996)
     Tranquil Eye
     Circling Girl

For many years many fans had wished for a compilation to get all those songs released on EP only but long out of print. Late in 2005 the Cocteau world rejoiced as such a compilation duly arrived, wittily named Lullabies To Violaine. No new material, just a straightforward compilation of the many, many EP's and singles the Cocteau Twins had created over a period of fifteen years. No worries about the quality of their music: The Cocteau Twins saved some of their finest moments for their early EP's. Tracks like Pepper-Tree, Quisquose or Great Spangled Fritillary are among their best ever. And even on singles their b-sides are often beautifully crafted and well worth owning. Finally fans can get copies of such gems as Summer-Blink, Ice-Pulse or Alice without having to purchase rare CD singles from a second hand source. The songs have been digitally remastered as well, but in most cases this doesn't make much difference.

So the only real choices the compilers had to make were about track selection. Since The Box Set already covered the first two CD's of this release they could have opted to just release CD's 3 and 4, to cover all the CD-singles that weren't available in any compilation. But The Box Set isn't that easily available these days, so the choice to include all earlier EP's as well is a reasonable one, even if it obviously doubles the price. This should have made The Box Set redundant, but it doesn't quite, because annoyingly the bonus tracks from that release are not included here.

Effectively the compilers simply took all the tracks of all the EP's. Well almost. Including both Tishbite singles for instance would have meant to include the title track twice - that would have been silly. Other tracks that would have been included twice in almost identical versions are Peppermint Pig and Pearly-Dewdrops' Drops, since they were both released in longer (12") and shorter (7") versions. Still it would have made a lot of sense to include the longer versions of both these tracks, which unfortunately didn't happen.

There is one more thing to be said about the track list. This compilation is obviously not targeted at occasional buyers of Cocteau Twins CD's. It is very much meant for real fans, who would realistically already own all eight regular studio albums. So the inclusion of those tracks that are already on one of those appears to be superfluous. In their early career the Twins rarely put a song on both an EP and an album, but on later single releases this became standard practice. So fans who buy this compilation also receive an extra copy of those tracks. To be specific, Sugar Hiccup, Iceblink Luck, Evangeline, Bluebeard, Tishbite and Violaine might easily have been omitted. Their inclusion is of course no problem, except that there are a few other tracks that most fans would much prefer to have been included instead. Hardcore fans will always want to make their collection totally complete, and it would surely have been so easy to add those few tracks that also never yet appeared on any studio album. As mentioned earlier the bonus CD from The Box Set is missing, which means the omission of Dials, Crushed, The High Monkey-Monk and the instrumental version of Ooming-Mak. The inclusion of Millimillenary would have been nice as well - it only appears on The Pink Opaque, but it is now the only track from that album not appearing here or on any studio album, so fans will currently need to buy that compilation to obtain just a single new song. Two early tracks, Speak No Evil and Perhaps Some Other Aeon are available on some versions of Garlands only - they remain hard to obtain now. Two more tracks are missing: Need Fire and Touch Upon Touch, both released on non-Cocteau albums only. All in all it's only nine of those rare tracks that are missing - not too many beyond the number of tracks that could have been omitted.

So by releasing almost the same number of tracks but just a different track listing this compilation could so easily have been the ultimate compilation to end all compilations. Buy this one and you will own every non-album track the Cocteaus ever created, the advert could have read. Unfortunately that mark was just missed. To end on a positive note though: four of those elusive tracks (Dials, The High Monkey-Monk, Need Fire and Touch Upon Touch) can be obtained legally in electronic form by downloading them for free from the audio section of the official Cocteau Twins website.