Things have been quiet on the Blog regarding Stephen Duffy and The Lilac Time. This is partially due to my shameful overlooking of their recent material which is harder to buy in The States. I mean, it took me until 2012 until I found a copy of “Runout Groove,” The 2007 Lilac Time album! And that’s the latest one I’ve gotten! They put out “No Sad Songs” in 2015 and “Return To Us” in 2019, but I still need to act. I can only find copies outside of America for sale on Discogs, which alludes to the problem.
LILAC TIME BOOK
I recently got an email from the band and things are moving this year. I’d heard of the Lilac Time book a few months ago, but now there’s a microsite for it, so it’s real enough to discuss here. Longtime Stephen Duffy fans probably know about the unwatchable “Memory + Desire” documentary on the band’s life. I call it unwatchable not for its aesthetic value, but because one literally cannot watch it! As far as I know, only a select few humans have ever seen it. Possibly at festival showings. There’s no DVD. No streaming. Possibly no distribution of any kind. The soundtrack came out in… 2009, and I still don’t have that!
So the fact that a book on the band is nearing the finish line is fantastic news for those of us who are not related to Douglas Arrowsmith, the director of “Memory + Desire,” and still want to know the story about the band. That it’s being published by the good folks at Rocket 88 Books, means that it is actually going to cross the finish line. The Lilac Time have been a going concern for 36 years and the book has been written with the participation of current and former members, producers, record company staff, and more adding their bits to the aggregate. The oral history of all involved will be abetted with plenty of visual ephemera and the like to make of it a coffee table book if that can said to still be a thing in the 21st century. To find out more, click here to visit the microsite and sign up for more info. The book is still a little blurry but by the summer we should know a lot more. Rocket 88 books are generally affordable so that is a good thing. I’m trying to limit the books entering the house, but for crying out loud, this is Stephen Duffy!
ASTRONAUTS DLX RM
Word also comes from Lilac Time HQ that there is an expanded version of the superb 1991 album “Astronauts” by The Lilac Time which was originally issued on Creation in a 12 track edition. In 1998, there was an expanded Japanese CD as shown that my loved one bought me which had seven extra tracks [none of them B-sides from the single “Dreaming”] which were excellent. So I have the fullest confidence that whatever Needle Mythology, the only label in the world named after a Stephen Duffy song, is planning, it will be spectacular. As well as priced to move. Their debut release several years back was an astounding expansion of the Stephen Duffy solo album, “I Love My Friends,” which was incredible value for $15.98.
I am somewhat concerned by the wording of that Mr. Duffy himself says on his website regarding this reissue being a “triple album remastered version” and I hope that this will not be an LP only thing as the label seem to release everything so far in both formats. More on this as it nears the finish line, but Duffy himself suspects an October release date.
2023 LILAC TIME ALBUM
Meanwhile, on December 14th, the latest Lilac Time album [still untitled] was sent to the “pressing place” and won’t be close to ready until August of this year. Duffy also quipped…
Which, again, makes me fretful that the new Lilac Time album might not have a CD available this time. Let’s hope that it’s just the LP which will hold up the release in both formats. As usual. The demand for music made out of PVC is past getting out of hand by now and it’s not going to get any better going forward. How did we end up in this place?
While I read about them one of the Trouser Press guides, I first heard the Lilac Time when a promo of their album Looking For a Day in the Night crossed my desk. I was quite infatuated with it and played it a lot for several years, and eventually just happened to come across a copy of their two-disk Fontana Years album in the used bin of Waterloo Records a couple of years later.
Sadly I foolishly divested myself of both of them some years later during a purge. I usually don’t regret getting rid of disks I haven’t listened to in a while, but I’ve always regretted this – especially after a promo of No Sad Songs came along. That’s a really good one too. I re-purchased Looking just a couple of weeks ago (as well as No Sad Songs, though I had to go to a non-Stateside Discogs seller to do it). But, alas, I cannot find another copy of the Fontana Years from a U.S. seller, let alone in my price range. (The one selling No Sad Songs had unusually reasonable postage.) I’m counting on it suddenly popping up in the bins as it did before.
And those are the only LT albums (or Stephen Duffy albums, for that matter) I’ve actually heard. Well, those and the Hawks’ Obviously 5 Believers.
Michael Toland – Well, you scoop me on The Hawks “Obviously 5 Believers,” as well as “No Sad Songs.” Though I did splash out a pretty penny some years ago for that first Hawks 7″. I had all of the Lilac Time CD singles, but being PDO pressings of the late 80s, they succumbed to bronzing, and PDO had a replacement program for some years, and they were unable to send me repressed CD singles, but instead I received “The Fontana Years” set. Here’s a cheap US copy of “Fontana Trilogy” if you’ve got the interest. $23.50 shipped. I was a Duffy fan from his high solo era of Synthpop, which he quickly pivoted away from. I could tell, even then, that he had the songwriting goods and have collected him ever since as he put out three drastically different albums before settling into The Lilac Time with album number four.
“VG” means I’d like to physically inspect it before committing that much money. It’s more than possible that the “VG” disks just need a good cleaning, but I’d want to see for myself. I actually reached out to that seller a couple of weeks ago to ask for a more detailed description, but never heard back.
Michael Toland – I feel your pain. Whenever I’ve asked a Discogs vendor a question, it has gone unanswered.
My holy grail is a copy of the original Cousteau cd before they signed with a bigger independent label. I’ve heard the songs are slightly differently mixed. I ask folks on discogs and if they answer they have no idea what I am going on about. I asked one seller if he could look as the labels literally have different names and his reply was “I have so much for sale I am not even sure if I could find it.”
Such a great album, there was an expanded UK version on Sanctuary Records in 2005. I think I paid the princely sum of £3 for it in a FOPP Records sale, crazy. Has always been a special record for me so was very pleased to get it signed a couple of years back when Mr Duffy did an acoustic in store gig to promote the last album.
I reckon we should be ok with a cd release of this, their small demographic must include a decent % of cd loyalists!
SimonH – I didn’t know about that 2005 Creation DLX RM in the UK. It looks the same as the 1998 JPN version. The extra tracks were quality goods and if there’s more where that came from then huzzah!